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Knowing Your Gemstones and Cabochons is Important When Selecting and Purchasing Native American Jewelry
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Knowing Your Gemstones and Cabochons is Important When Selecting and Purchasing Native American Jewelry

At Palms Trading Company of Albuquerque, we understand stones. Whether the jewelry contains semi-precious or precious, faceted or cabochon gemstones, we know what we are looking for when selecting Native American jewelry.

Types of Gemstones and Cabochons

Here are some of the more common gemstones associated with Native American Jewelry:

  • Coral — the hardened secretion of tiny sea creatures. Coral ranges in color from white and pale pink to deep reds and oranges. Coral is an organic material and like other organic gemstones, it is not an especially hard or durable gemstone. It has a hardness rating of 3 to 4 on the Mohs scale, which can easily help distinguish and identify coral from similar colored gemstones such as carnelian, rhodonite or spessartite garnet.White and red coral with a calcium carbonate composition has a specific gravity or density of 2.60-2.70 and a refractive index of 1.486-1.658. These specific gemological properties, combined with coral’s translucent to opaque form, can easily help identify natural coral from imitations or similar gemmy materials.
  • Lapis Lazuli — a rock composed chiefly of the minerals lazurite (deep blue), pyrite (metallic yellow) and calcite (white). The blue stone is commonly used in modern designs by contemporary Indian artists. Although the colour of lapis lazuli is defined by its name, ‘the blue stone’, its colors can actually range from slightly greenish blue to violet, medium to dark, and from low to highly saturated.The blue most typically seen in lapis lazuli is due to sulfur coloring agents. The finest stones exhibit an evenly distributed color and have no visible deposits of calcite, although a moderate amount of gold pyrite flecks is considered acceptable. Too much pyrite can result in a dull, greenish tint, while calcite can predominate the mix, giving the stone an overall less appealing lighter blue shade.
  • Turquoise — a copper mineral, often containing small brown or gray veins. Turquoise ranges in color from sky-blue to greenish-blue. The stone varies in hardness from soft/somewhat porous to hard. In the U.S., turquoise is found in the southwestern states. Use of turquoise from other countries is common. Turquoise can be identified by its distinctive sky blue, blue-green or apple-green color and waxy to matt luster. Additionally, a Mohs hardness of 5 to 6 can distinguish turquoise from similar gemstones such as chrysocolla, variscite and smithsonite. Its hardness can also help to distinguish turquoise from imitations or synthetic materials.
  • Malachite
  • Spiny Oyster Shell
  • Onyx

Palms Trading Company understands it’s not always easy to spot a counterfeit item, but price, materials, appearance, and the seller’s guarantee of authenticity may help.