Bearpaw Ammonite
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Frequently Asked Questions
 
 1.  WHAT IS AN AMMONITE?

 *   related to squid, octopus, cuttlefish and the chambered nautilus 
  (http://www.onlyone.net/ammolite/ammonite%20history.html)
 *  it is a cephalopod about 70,000,000 years ago (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)
 *   it is an opalized fossil 
    (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)
*   is the mineral form of a fossil shell of the Cretaceous Period, which existed about 70 to 135 million years ago (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)
 *   they were squid like mollusks similar to the modern Nautilus with a coiled, univalve shell composed primarily of Aragonite 
  (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)
 *   these ammonites spanned up to 1 meter in length
  (http://www.mountainesque.com/ammolite.html)
 
2.  WHAT WAS A FREQUENT CONSUMER OF AMMONITES?

 *   the Mosasaurs    (http://www.onlyone.net/ammolite/ammonite%20history.html)
 
3.  WHERE DID THE AMMONITES LIVE?

 *   they lived in a subtropical sea that bordered the Rocky Mountains 
  (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)

4.  WHAT ARE AMMONITES USUALLY PRESERVED IN?

 *   chalky clay, limestone or limey shale
  (http://members.home.net/jaybee7/ammon/index.html)

5. WHEN WAS AMMOLITE OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED AS A GEMSTONE? BY WHOM?

 *   in 1981 by the International Commission of Colored Gemstones (CIBJO) 
  (http://members.home.net/jaybee7/ammon/index.html)
 
6.  HOW IS AMMOLITE GRADED?

 *   AA - highest grade displaying three or more brilliant sharp colours; also considered to be a collection grade - found most often in one of a kind designer pieces
 *  A - One or more distinct colours or play of colours
 *  B - colours are less distinct and may show directional colour
  (http://www.ammolite.com/faq.htm)

7.  WHAT IS THE COMPOSITION OF THE NACREOUS LAYER ON THE AMMONITE?

 *   aragonite - 96.92%
 *   strontium - 0.48%
 *   iron - 1%
 *   silicon - 1%
 *   titanium - 0.6%
 *   and trace elements of aluminum, barium, chromium, copper, magnesium, manganese and vanadium
 *   0.44% water 
  (http://www.penoir.com/stones/_wpa020.html)

8. HOW CAN AMMONITES HELP TO DETERMINE THE AGE OF CERTAIN ROCKS?

 *   As different species of ammonites lived during different time periods, scientists can use these animals to determine the relative age of the rocks in which their fossils are found (such fossils are called index fossils). 
  (http://www.onlyone.net/ammolite/ammonite%20history.html)
*   Because ammonites lived exclusively in marine environments, their presence also indicates the location of prehistoric seas.
  (http://www.onlyone.net/ammolite/ammonite%20history.html)

9. HOW DID AMMONITES MOVE ABOUT?

 *   Ammonites were able to swim, thanks to the unique construction of their shell, which was divided into a series of air chambers.  The air in the chambers provided buoyancy for the animal to float; like modern cephalopods, they probably moved through the water using jet propulsion.
  (http://www.onlyone.net/ammolite/ammonite%20history.html)

10.  WHAT HAPPENED TO THESE FOSSILS OVER TIME?

 *  as the seas receded, the ammonites were crushed by tons of vegetation and silt, and many were fossilized
  (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)
 *   rare trace elements in some areas caused radiant iridescent blue, green, red and gold to appear on the fossil surface 
  (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)
 
11.  WHERE IS THE NAME AMMONITE DERIVED FROM?

 *   it is derived from the ancient Egyptian god Ammon who considered them to be divine and is represented by the head of a ram with twisted spiral horns that are reminiscent of ammonites twisted shells (http://www.korite.com/ammonite.htm)
 *   the Roman historian Plithy the Elder regarded ammonite as the holiest stone because it was said to evoke prophetic dreams (http://www.korite.com/ammonite.htm)

12.  WHAT IS AMMOLITE?

 *   recognized as ìAlbertaís Gemstoneî 
  (http://www.goldguide.com/geo-stones/)
 *   is a fossilized shell which shows a rainbow of shifting interference colors in beautiful mosaic type patterns 
  (http://www.gemstone.org/askgems.html)
 *   it remineralized and recrystalized (http://www.gemstone.org/askgems.html)
 *   it is formed from the mineralized remains of an upper Cretaceous fossil called the Ammonite Placenticeras (http://www.ammolite.com/faq.htm)
 *   the gemstone material is formed from the compacted remains of the shell which was exposed to eons of elemental movement, mineralization, intense heat and pressure. (http://www.ammolite.com/faq.htm)
 *   each color is surrounded by thin black lines creating a mosaic similar to a freeformed stained glass window (http:/www.ammonite.net/history1.htm)

13.  WHAT AMMOLITE IS CONSIDERED OF POOR QUALITY?

 *   exposed ammonite which is easily bleached by the sun and damaged by frost is usually of poor quality (http:/www.ammonite.net/history1.htm)

14.  WHAT CONDITIONS CREATED THIS GEM AMMOLITE?

 *   The ammonite would have had to die close to the shoreline of the Bearpaw Sea, near an inflow of fresh water.  The water somehow changed the chemistry of the shell, possibly depositing iron on it, which accounts for the greens in the stone.  The shell would then have had to been crushed after burial.
  (http://www.ammonite.net//history1.htm)

15.  HOW IS AMMOLITE USUALLY CUT?
 
 *   it is cut in cabochons, either ovals and other geometric shapes or free form
  (http://www.onlyone.net/ammolite/ammonite%20history.html)
*   it is cut to display the layer of colors over an opaque dark background of rock
  (http://www.onlyone.net/ammolite/ammonite%20history.html)
 
16.  HOW MUCH DOES AMMOLITE COST PER CARAT?

 *   $50.00 per carat
  (http://www.onlyone.net/ammolite/ammonite%20history.html)
 *  it is a recently found gemstone, formed by irradiant layers that coat some ammonite fossils (http://www.islandnet.com/~mineral/jewel6.htm)
 *   most come from the badlands of Alberta (http://www.islandnet.com/~mineral/jewel6.htm)
*  a natural stone (http://www.designjewel.com/ammolite4.htm)
*   each angle produces a different color (http://www.mountainesque.com/ammolite.html)
 
17.  HOW IS AMMOLITE TREATED?

 *   commonly treated with a colorless hardening substance, for stability, via impregnation
  (http://www.mackley.com/info/more/more_treatments.html)
 

18.  WHAT DO THE RAREST AMMOLITE GEMS LOOK LIKE?

 *   they show three or more colors and are graded AA
  (http://www.korite.com/ammonite.htm)

19.  WHAT IS THE NATIVE LEGEND BEHIND THE AMMOLITE STONE?

 *   Legend tells of a blackfoot woman who discovered the stone while searching for firewood.  During a particularly harsh winter, the buffalo had disappeared and the tribe was starving.  While searching in the deep snow, the young women heard beautiful singing and followed the voice to an ammolite stone under a cottonwood tree.  The stone told her it was powerful medicine and if she would take it back to the tribe it would provide food for the blackfoot.  She did so and the next morning a large herd of buffalo was seen outside the camp.  After that, the blackfoot used the stone in bison hunting ceremonies - wrapping it in a medicine bundle of buffalo hide.  Through the aid of ammolite, the blackfoot were able to survive that particularly harsh winter.  And ever since Ammolite has been commonly referred to as the buffalo stone as it signifies wealth and abundance.

20.  WHERE IS THE MINING OF AMMOLITE MOST PROFITABLE?

 *  their excavation is profitable only where the Bearpaw Formation lies close to the surface

21.  HOW DOES AN AMMONITE BECOME AMMOLITE?

 *   the process that turns a fossil shell into ammolite is not clearly understood, but the result is similar to opal (http://www.islandnet.com/~mineral/jewel6.htm)
*   brilliant patterns of color occur when tiny spherules on the surface split white light, in the same way a rainbow does (http://www.islandnet.com/~mineral/jewel6.htm)

22.  WHAT ERA SAW THE EVOLUTION OF MANY FORMS OF AMMONITE?

 *   the Mesozoic Era (http://www.islandnet.com/~mineral/jewel6.htm)
 

23.  WHEN DID THESE AMMONITES DECLINE?

 *  the Cretaceous, along with the dinosaurs (http://www.islandnet.com/~mineral/jewel6.htm)

24.  HOW IS  AMMOLITE RECOVERED?

 *   through pit mining (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)
 *   tons of materials are removed to recover the ammolite 
  (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)
 *   by law, intact fossils cannot be broken for specimens, and each pit mine must be filled and reclaimed before another pit mine can be opened
  (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)

25. WHAT ARE THE STATISTICS FOR THE AMOUNT OF AMMONITE SHELL THAT CAN BE CLASSIFIED GEMSTONE GRADE?

 *   1 out of every 100 ammolite specimens found in Alberta is suitable for classification as ammolite (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)
 *   about 10 tons of material must be removed to recover 4.5 lbs of ammolite
  (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)

26.  WHAT IS AMMOLITE'S HARDNESS?

 *   it has a hardness of 4.5 to 5.5
  (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)

27. HOW DOES ONE TAKE CARE OF AMMOLITE?

 *   care must be taken when storing ammolite jewelry
  (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)
 *   to best prevent scratching, a warm solution of soapy water will keep ammolite jewelry color bright 
  (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)

28.  HOW IS AMMOLITE PRICED?
 *   it is based on the intensity of the colors of fire with reds, yellows, oranges, golds and greens the most common colors
  (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)
 *   blues are rare, at times, you may even come across very rare purples, and they have a price to match
  (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)

29.  WHAT IS ITS CHEMICAL COMPOSITION?

 *   Calcium Carbonate (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)

30.WHAT IS ITS CRYSTAL STRUCTURE?

 *   Orthorhombic (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)
 *   they have three axes at 90' angles. All of which have different lengths 
  (http://www.tradeshop.com/gems/classify.html)

31.  WHERE CAN AMMOLITE BE FOUND?

 *   Alberta, Canada appears to be the only known source of ammolite 
  (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)

32.  WHAT IS AMMOLITE ALSO KNOWN AS?

 *  Korite and Calcentine (http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/9806/msg00095.htm)

33.  WHAT DOES RARE QUALITY AMMOLITE RESEMBLE?

 *   the Black Opal (http://www.onlyone.net/ammolite/ammolite%20what.html)

34.  WHAT IS THE AMMONITE FOSSIL ALSO CALLED?

 *   the Buffalo Stone, by the Blackfoot Indians
  (http://www.onlyone.net/ammolite/ammolite%20what.html)

35.  WHAT DOES THE BUFFALO STONE REPRESENT TO THE BLACKFOOT?

 *   the broken pieces that wash our of flooded creeks and rivers sometimes resemble a buffalo, which represents wealth, good health, and stamina to the Blackfeet
  (http://www.onlyone.net/ammolite/ammolite%20what.html)

36.  WHAT IS SIGNIFICANT ABOUT OPALS?

 *   they were believed to be pieces of heaven knocked down by violent thunderstorms
  (http://www.paradise-jewelry.com/opal-ammolite-jewelry.htm)

37.  WHAT IS AMMOLITEíS SPECIFIC GRAVITY?

 *   it is 2.8  (http://www.paradise-jewelry.com/opal-ammolite-jewelry.htm)
 
38.  WHAT IS AMMOLITE'S OPTICS?

 *   it has a refractive index of 1.52-1.67 (http://www.paradise-jewelry.com/opal-ammolite-jewelry.htm)

39.  HOW IS AMMOLITE OFTEN ASSEMBLED?

 *   the thin aragonite layer of the ammonite shell is often assembled into triplets with a protective quartz top and a shale backing
  (http://www.paradise-jewelry.com/opal-ammolite-jewelry.htm)

40.  IS AMMOLITE FAR RARER THAN DIAMONDS?

 *  yes it is (http://www.mountainesque.com/ammolite.html)