Amazonite — the name alone conjures up images of dense green jungles and mighty blue rivers. This gemstone was indeed named for its evocative colour, and specimens can range from light green to blue-green. Some deposits of the stone can even be mistaken for turquoise. But it’s actually highly unlikely that amazonite was ever present in the Amazon riverbeds of South America — a simple case of a name that’s more descriptive than it is factual.
What is the History of Amazonite?
Although no amazonite deposits have currently been found near the river that gives the gemstone its name, some legends tell of the famous female Amazon warriors giving green stones to visiting men. Although it is more likely that the stone in these ancient stories was jade, the similar colour of the two gems may have caused the confusion.
The use of amazonite has been traced back to Ancient Egypt. Archaeologists have discovered ornaments and jewellery carved out of the gemstone. The Ancient Egyptians placed a high value on the gem and considered amazonite to be “the stone of courage.” An amazonite ring was found among Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s treasures, and some say that the seventh chapter of the Egyptian Book of the Dead was carved into amazonite.
Amazonite is now called the “hope stone” because some people believe that it can soothe the wearer and inspire confidence and creativity. Even today, people choose to wear amazonite when they need to boost their resolve and get in touch with their warrior spirits.
Where does Amazonite Come From?
Historically, amazonite was found almost exclusively in Russia, near the Ilmen Mountains. More recently, rich amazonite deposits have been discovered in several parts of the United States including Pike’s Peak, Colorado, and Amelia, Virginia. Amazonite has also been collected from many other locations, including:
There have even been some amazonite sources discovered in Brazil, but not near enough to the Amazon riverbed to justify the stone’s name.
How Does Amazonite Get its Colour?
Amazonite is technically a type of feldspar, the most common mineral found in the earth’s crust. The gemstone is classified as a microcline feldspar, which forms in igneous rocks like granite. But not all microclines boast amazonite’s distinctive blue-green colour. The turquoise hue is acquired when small amounts of lead and water are present during the forming of the feldspar.
What are the Most Common Uses for Amazonite?
Because amazonite is a relatively soft gemstone, it is easy to carve and is often made into beads or cabochons and featured in designer jewellery. The stone can be polished to a high shine due to a lustrous quality known as “schiller,” which refers to reflections from within the multiple planes of the mineral’s grain creating an iridescent effect when the stone is polished.
Because amazonite is one of the softer gemstones, care must be taken to prevent the stone’s surface from getting scratched. Though the gem is durable enough for everyday jewellery, the stone is better suited for necklaces, pendants, and earrings that aren’t exposed to the same amount of wear and tear as a bracelet or a ring.
Amazonite jewellery can be cleaned with warm water and a soft cloth. Never use harsher cleaning methods such as heat, acid, or steam cleaning. Be sure to store your amazonite jewellery away from harder gemstones or any other object that could scratch and mar the stone’s beautifully smooth surface.
Due to its relative inexpensiveness, amazonite can be a great choice for adding a splash of colour to your jewellery. Sometimes considered one of the alternate December birthstones, a beaded amazonite necklace or beautifully carved pendant can be a great present for a special someone with a winter birthday.
But you don’t have to be born in December to appreciate the breathtaking beauty of amazonite jewellery — the gemstone is the perfect gift for one and all.