In Europe the latest trend is to feature lesser known hard gemstones such as agates, ruby in zoisite and rhodochrosite. Set back with more familiar transparent gemstones, they make unique and intriguing combinations. Lizunova has been designing with hard stones since its inception. Mookite (an Australian jasper), Chrysoprase (a translucent chalcedony that rivals jade in its beauty) and Amazonite (a turquoise coloured feldspar) have featured strongly in our collections.
Amazonite with its alluring Verdigris blue to green colour could easily be mistaken for turquoise. It belongs to the feldspar family and its chemical composition is a potassium aluminium silicate. The word “feldspar” derives from the German words “Feld” and “Spat”, which translates as field mineral. Feldspars are incredibly abundant and comprise approximately 54% of the Earth’s crust. Australia has deposits of Amazonite in South Australia.
Luckily this abundant mineral family produces exquisite ornamental gems such as Amazonite, with its lovely soft low sheen. The best material has less white mottled through it and a striking turquoise colour. It has a vitreous lustre and is quite hard at 6.5 on the Mohs scale. With its gorgeous vibrant colour it’s the perfect gem for accenting a summer wardrobe.
Chrysoprase is becoming increasingly popular as its stunning translucent apple green colour is reminiscent of fine quality imperial green jadeite. In fact, one of its misnomers is “Australian Jade”. In reality, Chrysoprase is a type of cryptocrystalline chalcedony which is part of the quartz family of minerals. Chalcedony is a form of silica which consists of sub-microscopic fibrous crystals of quartz. It has a vitreous lustre and good hardness at around 7 on the Mohs scale.
Chrysoprase’s unique green colour is due to trace quantities of nickel. It looks amazing paired with violet and blue gemstones and can be set in any of the gold colours. Australia is fortunate to have an abundant supply of Chrysoprase and the major localities for mining are The Mount Davies deposits in far northwest South Australia and the Whingellina deposits just over the border in Western Australia.
Another uniquely Australian hard stone is Mookaite Jasper. This stunning multi coloured stone is mined near “Mooka Creek” – hence the name “Mookaite” – in the Kennedy Ranges near Carnarvon in Western Australia. Its bold earthy beauty reflects the colours of the Australian desert.
Jasper is another variety of cryptocrystalline silica which is coloured by large amounts of pigments (usually iron oxides). Sometimes the amount of pigment may be as high as 20%, hence the rich strong colours of Mookaite. This stunning ornamental stone would make the ideal gift or memento of a trip to Australia and makes a much more affordable alternative to precious opal.