Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dumortierite? Really?

Today I listed a bracelet on Etsy that features a really beautiful stone called Dumortierite, and being the complete nerd that I am, I felt the need to find out where the name came from. It's a beautiful stone - a lovely blue with flecks of brown, green, gold, sometimes even white. Turns out the stone was named after a French paleontologist named M. Eugene Dumortier (1803-1873). Since he had already gone on to that great beyond when the stone was first described and labeled, apparently he had admirers! Dumortierite is very hard, which is probably why it takes such a great polish. My word, you should see this stone shine! To give you an idea, the scale of hardness, called the Mohs scale ranges from graphite (like a lead pencil) at 1 to diamonds at 10.

Dumortierite is found in Austria, Brazil, California, Canada, France, Italy, Madagascar, Namibia, Nevada, New York, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sri Lanka. Here's a picture of some rough stone from Madagascar. Isn't it gorgeous? I was surprised to learn it's used in the manufacture of high-grade porcelain and spark plug ceramics. It's also sometimes confused with sodalite or even lapis lazuli, two more gorgeous blue stones that I love to work with.

African lore said that dumortierite was petrified water, because of its blue color and because it was usually found near water. Less romantic but more true is that the varying shades of lovely blue are caused by the presence of manganese, iron and zinc.

Well! Now you know way more than you ever wanted to about that!