Newly known as Ammolite, this stone was given official gemstone status in 1981. Native People call it Iniskim, and recognize its spiritual significance: prosperity and good health to the person in contact with it.
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This opal-like organic gemstone comes from the fossilized shells of prehistoric creatures called ammonites. They have been for extinct about 65 million years. The ammonites that produced ammolite lived in an ancient sea along the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains. When they died, they sunk and were buried under mud, which became shale.
Ammonite fossils are found all over the world, but gemstone grade ammolite only exists in the territory of the Kainai (Blood), the Pikuni (Peigan), and the Siksika (Blackfoot) Indians of Southern Alberta. The conditions there produced the rare iridescent, multi coloured stones.
The Blackfoot tell a story of Iniskim. One very cold winter, the Tribe had nothing to eat because the buffalo herd hadn’t been in their area. A woman had a vision dream of a magical stone that would call the buffalo to them. The next day she was out searching for firewood when she heard a beautiful song. She followed the song to a cave where she found a brightly coloured stone. She was instructed to complete a ceremony. Afterwards a large herd came to graze beside the camp, and the hunters were able to acquire the food their people needed. The buffalo was everything to the Blackfoot. It provided their food, clothing, and lodges. The meaning of the stone is that it helps provide the necessities and the comforts of life. Native People carry it in their medicine bags and bundles, and use it in ceremonies to bring good fortune.
In the late 1990's Feng Shui experts started to recognize and promote ammolite as influential stone. It is known as the seven color prosperity stone. They believe that the spiral shaped fossil has absorbed much chi over the long period it's been on the earth. The chi, found in its colours will emanate out and bring balance to the people and environment around it. Though using a different set of values and beliefs, they come to about the same conclusion regarding the stone’s meaning and use as Native People have.
Ammolite is graded with a letter system. AAA is the highest quality. It has 3 or more colours, high iridescence or brightness of colours, and the colours are bright and vivid from almost all angles. Because ammolite is 0.1 - 0.3 mm in thickness and very fragile, a resin is used to stabilize it. It's attached to a backing material, usually the mother rock from which the ammolite was quarried, then covered with a quartz cap. The finished stone is called a triplet.
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