We recently explored the magic of gemstone inclusions .
Now, let’s take a deeper dive into one of the most fascinating things about gemstone inclusions - how they can help us determine where in the world a stone was formed and mined.
First, a reminder. Inclusions are characteristics within the structure of the stone itself. These features can be things like gas-filled bubbles, trapped materials, small lines, or heat fractures.
A blue apatite crystal (identified with micro Raman) is suspended amidst a cluster of needles in this garnet from Tanzania. Specimen courtesy of Mark Saul. Fabrication courtesy of Indy Khurana. Gübelin, E.J. and Koivula, J.I. (2005) Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones, Volume 2. Basel, Switzerland, Opinio Publishers, 830 pp.; RWHL*.
Gemstones are formed miles and miles beneath the earth's crust, and the pressure, heat, and time that go into forming the gems mean chemical elements or natural materials can get trapped below the surface of the stone.
Inclusions can be seen as flaws - but we see them as part of the story. Inclusions are microscopic reflections of the earth magic that resulted in a wondrous gem. They can create swirls of colors, flecks of light, merging hues, and pools of wonder waiting just below the stone’s surface…
This blocky, transparent crystal stood out in its Zambian emerald host. Analysis with micro Raman revealed that it is fluorophlogopite. Gübelin, E.J. and Koivula, J.I. (2008) Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones, Volume 3. Basel, Switzerland, Opinio Publishers, 672 pp.; RWHL*.
Where in the world have you been?
Aesthetically, inclusions can create beautiful patterns and shades within a stone. They also render the gemstone to be completely unique - no one stone will have the same inclusions. Think of inclusions as a gemstone's fingerprint, they’re completely individual and personal to that stone.
Practically, this ‘fingerprint’ can also help us identify both the type of stone and also its geographic origin. The kind of inclusions and elements present tell us about the conditions in which the stone was formed and therefore also where it was formed.
This blocky, transparent crystal stood out in its Zambian emerald host. Analysis with micro Raman revealed that it is fluorophlogopite. Hughes, R.W., Manorotkul, W. and Hughes, E.B. (2017) Ruby & Sapphire: A Gemologist's Guide. Bangkok, Lotus Publishing, 816 pp.; RWHL*.
For example, rubies from Burma will often feature rutile needle inclusions that have a uniquely oil-spill like or iridescent color to them. These unique inclusions create a visual effect known as ‘silk’ which helps determine their Burmese origin.
Garnets that feature horsetail inclusions (lots of feathery threads of chrysotile running through the stone, resembling a horse’s mane) tell gemologists the stone originates from Russia.
Fibrous needles radiate from the center of this demantoid garnet. Gübelin, E.J. and Koivula, J.I. (2005) Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones, Volume 2. Basel, Switzerland, Opinio Publishers, 830 pp.; RWHL*.
What minerals are present in the stone also affects what kind of inclusions occur and the geographical growth environment. For example, an emerald that contains a mica inclusion (which sort of looks like a droplet within a stone) tells us that the stone was mined from mica-rich rocks. These are mostly found in Russia. On the other hand, emeralds mined in Columbia will often feature veins running through the stone, rich in carbonate from hydrothermal deposits beneath the surface of the earth in that country.
Why does it matter where it’s from?
Being able to determine where in the world a stone has come from isn’t essential by any means - but it does have a few distinct advantages.
First, it means you can ensure the stone was mined ethically. This is one of the reasons a lot of SKYDOG pieces feature gemstones from California - it’s important to us we know where the stones have come from and what’s gone into getting them out of the earth.
It also means our jewelry contains a little piece of California. We celebrate our local environment and appreciate the earth beneath our feet that brought forth these gems.
Knowing the geographical origin of our gemstones means that we can offer customers stones that originated from a place that means something to them. We recently made an inlay men's wedding band with Carrera marble from Italy to reflect the Italian heritage of the groom. Previously, we also crafted an inlay band with Big Sur Jade for a couple to whom the region meant a great deal and held personal memories.
Jewelry has the potential to be deeply personal - a physical manifestation of something about its wearer.
Gemstones are fascinating and magical for so many reasons, but being able to determine a stone's origin means jewelry can be made even more personal - with stones mined from the wearer's ancestral past, present love, or memorable place..
Want to know if we can celebrate your special place? Drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s see…