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Gem Profile August 16: Titanite (Sphene)

by Layna Palmer, Wire-Sculpture.com

Today's Gem Profile is...

Titanite (Sphene)

Gemstones

I ran across Titanite a few months ago when I was looking for an unusual gemstone to add to my own fledgling collection. I must have been in a green mood that day because I bought some jade, peridot, rhyolite and happen to pick up something labeled “sphene.”  At first, I thought they were another variety of color-changing stones because of the fire.  As I picked them up and took a good look, I just had to have them.

What is Sphene?

Sphene is not a color changing stone, but it does have more fire than a diamond and gives off beautiful flashes of gold and red. Titanite also comes in varying colors from a bright green, which I purchased that day, to yellow and gold for gems, with black, gray and white added for mineral specimens.

Titanite Crystals

Titanite Crystals

What’s in a name?

So, which is it; Sphene or Titanite?  Well, the answer would be…yes.  If you are speaking with a mineralogist, the name is Titanite, however, if you’re speaking with a gemologist then it’s Sphene. Both terms are fairly interchangeable.

How is it formed?

Titanite is formed by one of my favorite processes; metamorphosis.  The word Titanite comes from the inclusion of titanium in the chemical composition; CaTiSiO5 which translates to Calcium Titanium Silicon Oxide material.

Sphene is found primarily in igneous rock though it has also been found in limestone and schist that have been through a metamorphic process.  The name Sphene is from the Greek word sphenos which means “wedge” describing the type of crystals Titanite forms.

Titanite

Titanite

The crystals are often found in twinned clusters and the color variation depends on the type of trace mineral, like iron, is included in the crystal structure.

More about it.

Sphene is primarily found in; Pakistan, Italy, Russia, China, Brazil, Madagascar, Austria, Canada (Ontario), New York and California and is usually mined as a secondary mineral.

Titanite makes a beautiful and unusual setting with the fire and colors it presents with only the crystals showing the most clarity used as gems. It is a fairly soft stone at a 5 – 5.5 and so be careful if you set it in a ring it’s really best for pendants or earrings.

Wrapping it up.

Personally, I bought two really beautiful stones that I’m using in a protective ring setting to flank a quartz crystal I purchased a while ago.  I love the sparkle and fire of the stones and the look on people’s face when I tell them, “No, it’s not a Peridot…it’s called Sphene.”

Next week we will be hearing all about Deseret Rose in our Gem Profile.  Keep reading – you won’t want to miss it!

Do you have any jewelry made with some of our featured gemstones that you’d like to share with us? Send us pictures at tips@wire-sculpture.com and they could be featured!

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Gem Profile by Layna Palmer

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by Layna Palmer, Wire-Sculpture.com

Today's Gem Profile is...

Fulgurite

Gemstones

I love a good rain storm, and if you look at the weather reports for this region you already know how badly we need one.  I’m not talking about the gentle little pitter-patter rain or the drizzle for day’s type either. I mean a good ol’ booming desert storm that rolls in during the afternoon, dumps copious amounts of water for 20-30 minutes while making all the noise it can,  and then just as quickly dissipates leaving everything greener and smelling fresh and new.

I love watching the lightning flash across the sky, hearing the thunder roll and echo as it bounces off the mountains and seeing the rivers of water in the road as the earth soaks up the much-needed moisture.

What is Fulgurite:

I think what gives these storms their impressive noise and power is the lightning that builds and discharges,  creating an amazing show of Mother Nature’s might. When lightning strikes the ground, however, it can cause both destruction and also create something amazing as it becomes frozen in the ground as Fulgurite, which is Latin for thunderbolt.

Lightning strikes at a temperature of around 3270 degrees Fahrenheit creating enough heat to instantly transform high silica and quartz soil to glass around the immediate area of the strike.  These tubes are smooth on the inside and are surrounded by partially melted and fused soil on the outside.  Though not very attractive in an aesthetic definition, they are beautiful nonetheless.

Fulgurite

A single Fulgurite

Why is it so unique?

So, is a Fulgurite created every time lightning strikes the ground?  The answer would be,  probably not.  Researchers from the University of Florida Department of Electrical and Computer engineering have been studying the effects of lightning on power lines above and  below the ground at their research facility at Camp Blanding near Starke Florida since 1994. Their findings have been that lighting will blow sand up, it will “eat” the soil, and will sometimes form a Fulgurite.  They have found that the higher the silica and quartz content of soil and the more densely it is packed, the more likely it is to create a Fulgurite.

Researchers have also found that lightning will strike the ground and then travel to the water table, sometimes branching out under ground for a few feet before it stops.  In 1996, they found a very large Fulgurite that has set a world record for its size.

Florida boasts the greatest number of Fulgurite since that state also has some of the highest number of lightning strikes with 10-15 strikes per square kilometer each year.  Fulgurites have also been found on the tops of some of the worlds higher mountains like the Alps, Sierra Nevada’s, Cascades, Wasatch and Uinta mountain ranges.

Fulgurites created in nature can range anywhere from a couple of inches to several feet with a thickness from that of a drinking straw to several inches in diameter.  You can even create Fulgurite in a lab setting by passing (arcing) electricity through high-silica sand, but these are small, only an inch or two in length.

Fulgurite

Stereoscopic picture a small tube Fulgurite and a more irregular one.

Wrapping it up.

Now, before you go out in a thunderstorm looking for lightning to strike the ground so you can dig up your own piece of it, remember that not every strike creates a fulgurite and not every soil is ideal for its creation.  Lightning also travels at about 140,000 miles per hour and can reach temperatures rivaling that of the surface of the sun.  It can also send you back in time…so be careful.

As for me?  I’m going to sit back in my air-conditioned home and hope those clouds on the horizon are here to give us some rain, some thunder and maybe a few Fulgurite.

Do you have any beautiful jewelry or gem profile ideas that  you’d like to share with us? Send us pictures at tips@wire-sculpture.com and they could be featured!

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Gem Profile by Layna Palmer

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by Layna Palmer, Wire-Sculpture.com

Today's Gem Profile is...

Zultanite

Gemstones

We’ve all heard, or told, the silly jokes that come inside bubble-gum wrappers – here are a couple to start your day off with a giggle: “What’s black and white and read all over?”  Answer: The newspaper.   “What has four wheels and flies?” Answer: A garbage truck.  And best of all; “What is green, pink and yellow all at the same time?” That may be a new one to you, but the answer is Zultanite!

What is Zultanite:

Zultanite is an aluminum oxide hydroxide AIO(OH) mineral from the diaspore group. These minerals form as metamorphic sedimentary ores in bauxite, the mineral mined for aluminum. Though diaspore was first found in the 1800’s, it’s never been commercially mined until recently, with the material coming from a single mine in Turkey.  It is currently the only source of Zultanite in the world

Zultanite Gemstone

Zultanite gemstone. Photo credit International Colored Gemstone Association.

Why is it so unique?

What makes Zultanite so unique in the gem world are the color-changing properties it possesses.  While most gems have fire to them and will flash different colors, Zultanite is one of the few that changes color depending on the light.  In sunlight, Zultanite is a kiwi green with flashes of yellow and blue.  Indoors, a Zultanite will change to a more olive or even peridot green with flashes of pink and gold.  Under candlelight, a Zultanite will take on a deeper pink tone with flashes of brown, olive green and raspberry.

Zultanite Color chameleon

Zultanite Color chameleon. Photo credit Zultgems

Zultanite also has the unique property of having chatoyancy, or cat’s eye effect, when it’s cut en cabochon, which makes the color changing properties even more spectacular.  The stones are cut from eye-clean crystals and are never enhanced.  This makes Zultanite one of the most beautiful and natural stones on the market today.

Cat's Eye Zutlanite

Cat’s Eye Zultanite gemstone. Photo credit International Colored Gemstone Association.

Why is it rare?

In addition to being one of the more beautiful stones on the market, Zultanite is also one of the more rare stones.  Only 50% of the crystals found in the mine are suitable for taking a facet and of those, only a fraction are deemed quality enough to become a gem.  The reason for this is the crystal structure of the stone.  Zultanite is formed as orthorombic crystals with a definite cleavage to the stone.  The lapidary yield from Zultanite is only 2% meaning that 98% of the crystal is waste material due to the orientation of the micro-crystals, abnormally large number of inclusions, and the tendency to break apart during cutting (to give some perspective on yield, most gems have a 30 – 50% yield).

Zultanite Mining:

Mining Zultanite can be a bit of a chore too since the mine in Turkey is located in the Anatolian Mountains and sits nearly 4,000 feet above sea level.  The miners live onsite and work with air hammers with only the light from their headlamps to chisel the crystals from the rock.  The Zultanite crystals are located in soft layers between harder bauxite and must be dug from the rock after they have been located.  Zultanite has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale and a refractory index of 1.7 – 1.8.

Zultanite miners

Zultanite miners. Photo credit Zultgems.

Zultanite before mining

Zultanite before mining. Photo credit Zultgems.

The owner of the mine named Zultanite after the 36 Sultans of the Ottoman Empire and only the stones coming from the Millenyum Mine can be called by the trade-name Zultanite.  Other diaspores in the region do have color change properties, but none like those from the Millenyum Mine. This mine also has the unique distinction of being a “green” mine.  The miners plant 10 trees for every one they use within the mine and the miners are also fully insured and paid above average wages for the region.

Zultanite

Zultanite – Photo credit Zultgems.

The Millenyum Mining Company also provides materials and maintenance for the village schools nearby.  On a side note; the mine owners have also encouraged people interested in purchasing Zultanite to only purchase from reputable dealers and not to purchase the stone in Turkey, its mother country!  The reason they don’t encourage purchases is due to the unethical practice of some vendors selling color changing glass at highly inflated prices to tourists looking for souvenirs within Turkey.

Zultanite Beauty:

Zultanite has really made an impact in the gem world with its color change properties, scarcity and beauty.  Since the stone is only found in one small area of the globe, Zultanite joins the ranks of other gems, like Tanzanite and Larimar, with the unique distinction of being beautiful and very rare.

Green Zultanite gemstone

Zultanite gemstone. Photo credit International Colored Gemstone Association.

 

Do you have any beautiful jewelry you’d like to share with us? Send us pictures at tips@wire-sculpture.com and they could be featured!

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Gem Profile by Layna Palmer

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Gem Profile July 26: Large Hole Round Beads

by Layna Palmer, Wire-Sculpture.com

Today's Gem Profile is...

Large Hole Round Beads with Leather Cords

Shop Large Hole Beads

My daughter is in charge of the activities for girl’s camp next week and she came to me asking if she could use some of my extra beads and cord to make name bracelets with all of the girls that are attending.  We started sorting through my beads, leather and silk cording and were a little disappointed to find that there were very few beads that fit on the cord I had.  The holes were just too small.

My discovery:

The next morning, I was walking through the warehouse and was thrilled to see Megan unpacking some new beads that were already strung on leather cords.  I just had to have a strand, so I liberated one to take to my desk for a few minutes. I excitedly called my daughter to let her know that I had the answer to our cord and bead dilemma.

Strands of Large Round Hole beads

Varieties of Large Hole Beads on leather cording available at Wire-Sculpture.com

What I discovered:

These beads are beautiful!  They are the same stones that we already carry, but they are large hole beads that are pre-strung on a nice leather cord.  You can almost use the cord as is, attach a button for a fastener, and have a really cute modern bracelet!

So with this discovery, my daughter is using them for name bracelets at camp. Each girl picks a bead that corresponds to each letter in her name and strings it on the leather or silk cord.  They’re teaching the girls how to make a sliding knot for one of the camp advancements, so this fits really well with learning a skill, and making something meaningful and memorable from camp this year.

More fun projects:

As I was looking at the beads I had at my desk, I realized that they will not only fit the thicker cords, but also larger gauge wire and will look great on the new expandable bangles that are all the rage right now.  I’ve even seen people layer the expandable bracelets alongside the leather bracelets with charms and stones for a great bohemian look.  My son even asked the other day if I could make him a tiger-eye bracelet on a leather cord.

Tiger Eye Large Hole Beads

Tiger Eye 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

Discover your own Large Hole Beads too:

I thought to go along with the names, I would review the birthstones for each month so you can have some great ideas for our newest stones.

We are familiar with the traditional gems for each month, but there are alternatives that have also been used throughout history;

You can also use gemstones to channel energy, heal and just plain look pretty too;

  • Amethyst; Brings calm energy, can help with insomnia and is considered a “power” stone.  It is also called a Bishop’s stone and is worn by many Catholic bishops today. Amethyst was used.
    Dog Teeth Amethyst Round Large Hole Beads

    Dog Teeth Amethyst 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

    anciently to bring clarity and heal headaches.

  • Bronzite; Alleviates doubt and is considered a great stone for masculine energy.
  • Carnelian; guards against poverty, calms temper, magnifies sense of humor

    Matte Carnelian Large Hole  Beads

    Matte Carnelian 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

  • Goldstone; Energy stone will help maintain vitality and positive energy.

    Goldstone Large Hole Beads

    Goldstone 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

  • Golden Obsidian; Clears negative energy, helps with direction in life, clears aura

    Golden Obsidian Large Hole Beads

    Golden Obsidian 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

  • Jade; Ancient stone used to attract love, aids in mental reasoning and helps bring money into your life.
  • Jasper
    • Iron Zebra; Physical strength, reinforces health, encourages creativity
    • Picture; self realization, creative visualization, alleviates fear
    • Red Creek; Balance, physical energy, and is great for actors
      Red Creek Jasper Beads

      Red Creek Jasper 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand.

      Iron Zebra Jasper

      Iron Zebra Jasper 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

  • Labradorite; Strengthens intuition, stimulates imagination and new ideas, realization of goals.

    Labradorite Large Hole Beads

    Labradorite 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

  • Lapis; ancient purification stone for love, healing, protection and power

    Lapis Large Hole Bead

    Lapis 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

  • Onyx; defends against negativity, strengthens self confidence, sharpens senses
  • Pyrite; energizes the body or area where it’s placed.  Overcomes lethargy, helps the circulatory system and is great for those with asthma.
  • Sardonyx; Money, love, protection, enhances willpower and increases stamina
  • Smoky Quartz; Perception and learning, relieves depression, enhances organizational skills
  • Tigereye; focuses the mind, brings good luck, helps in interpersonal relationships
    • Red Tigereye

      Red Tiger Eye Large Hole Beads

      Red Tiger Eye 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

Take a moment to visit some of these beautiful beads – you won’t regret it!

Wrapping it all up:

Well, I have to hurry and run this strand of beads back to the warehouse before it’s missed, but I hope you will enjoy using these new beads as much as I will!

Do you have any beautiful jewelry you’d like to share with us? Send us pictures at tips@wire-sculpture.com and they could be featured!

Gem Profile by Layna Palmer

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by Narlene Allen, Wire-Sculpture.com

Wire Jewelry Tip for
July 24, 2013

Sneak Peak

NEW Large Round Hole Beads with Leather Cords.

Do you love trendy new things? Are you a “fashionista?” Fashions seem to come and go, and we all know that jewelry plays huge part of our style. There’s a hot new trend that’s been sweeping the country and it’s made its way to Wire-Sculpture!

This week in our Gem Profile, Layna will give us a full article about a NEW line of beads that we are now carrying, however, today I wanted to give you a little “sneak peak” to get you ready for it!

Strands of Large Round Hole beads

Varieties of Large Hole Beads on leather cording available at Wire-Sculpture.com

Have you seen or heard about the leather wrapped bracelets made of beautiful beads and gorgeous leather cording? I’ve been seeing them popping up all over at local stores, boutiques and fairs.

In the past, it’s been difficult to use leather cording with beads due to the size of the hole, but now there is a new line of Large Round Hole beads, that are making it easier to create gorgeous bracelets and other items with cording.

Here at Wire-Sculpture we’ve started carrying a brand NEW line of Large Round Hole Beads that you are going to love! These gorgeous beads come in a variety of beautiful gemstones like Pyrite, Tiger Eye, Onyx, and Lapis and are sold by the 8 inch strand and have a 2.5mm hole. They come on a leather cord. You can use these beauties with wire up to 12 gauge or with leather!

I am going to let Layna tell you more about them on Friday, but I wanted to give you a sneak peek of how beautiful they are!

Goldstone Large Hole Beads

Goldstone 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

If you are interested in doing a little investigating before Layna’s Profile comes out, feel free to visit us and snoop around our Beads category!

Do you have experience with beading and leather? If so, we are always looking for great new tutorials from our readers – so feel free to share your ideas with us. Click Here to submit your idea. You could be featured on our Blog!

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