Category Archives: Gemstone Balls

Properties and virtues of Aventurine

  • March 8, 2019

The beautifully glittering sun quartz bears the charming name of Aventurine. A shower of golden or silvery dots makes all their appeal and the dull and dull “aventurines” that are sometimes presented to us do not deserve their name. Other minerals have brilliant inclusions, so they can at best be called “adventurized stones”.

It is rare that a natural phenomenon is referred to as a manufactured product, so beautiful and so precious. But the fact is there: the aventurine stone comes out of anonymity around 1600 thanks to an artistic technique and a process of manufacture of the master glassmakers of Murano near Venice.

Mineralogical characteristics of aventurine

Aventurine is a variety of quartz, itself classified in the group of silicates and in the subgroup of tectosilicates. Like the chalcedonies, the aventurine is cryptocrystalline quartz, ie formed of microscopic crystalline granules; this particular composition gives to the mineral an opaque aspect.

Adventurine has other features common to quartz, however its hardness is slightly lower (6.5 instead of 7 on a scale of 10) and its density slightly higher. The presence of mineral or metallic inclusions explains these differences.

The color comes from these inclusions: the more they are abundant (usually 10 to 20% of the matter) the more the aventurine will be colored in a uniform way.

Micaceous inclusions are the most common. Mica, formed of aluminum and potassium, is also a silicate but belongs to another group: phyllosilicates. It comes in several species and subspecies of composition and thus of various colors. The green aventurine, very widespread and appreciated for the intensity of its shades owes its color to the fuchsite, rich chromium mica of the muscovite species.

Other inclusions are possible: brown aventurine is colored by pyrite, red by hematite, goethite or copper, blue by dumorérite or ilmenite.

The aventurine is everywhere; it is formed in the magmatic and metamorphic rocks into multiform aggregates (nodules, stalactites, pebbles …). The main extraction sites are in India (State of Tamil Nadu), Brazil (State of Minas Gerais), Russia (Urals and Siberia), Tanzania, and Tibet, United States (State of Vermont), in Central Europe (Bohemia, Silesia), Spain, Austria, and France (Finistère).

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The aventurescence

This name is given to the shiny and glittery appearance produced by light reflected in mineral or metallic inclusions. This term does not apply only to aventurine. Other minerals have this characteristic: for example, iolite or some feldspar such as sunstone, especially that from Oregon (known as Oregon sunstone), very clear and very colorful with inclusions of copper.

The beautiful adventurines are rarely found and most of those offered for sale have unfortunately an insufficient adventure.  Adventurines without any adventures are mostly brightly colored crystals used for low cost jewelry. A wide range of colors is sure to announce an artificial treatment!

The misleading name “Indian jade  ” sometimes refers to green aventurine. Jade and amazonite are rarer then the aventurine of the same color sometimes replaces them. The vases, cups and other small objects in green aventurine have a beautiful fresh and frosty appearance. Jewelers frequently carve cabochon aventurine to reveal the beauty of this semi-precious stone.

Etymology and meaning of the word “Aventurine”

Aventurine derives from the word “adventure”, a term from the popular Latin adventura (“what must happen”) , from the verb  advenire (“to occur”, “to happen”). In ancient French, the word takes the meaning of “fate, destiny” (meaning that we still find in the phrase “good adventure”). Adventure is finally and also chance, a meaning found in the adverbial phrase “adventure “(if by chance, you go on an adventure, come what may!)

At the beginning of the seventeenth century, a glass worker whose name is unknown would have dropped at random “per aventura  ” flakes of copper or brass filings in the molten glass. Maladresse or will to innovate? No one knows but the result is conclusive. The glass containing a constellation of glittering particles is a great success and becomes the adventurine or aventurine , specialty and monopoly of the Venetian master glassmakers (we speak of “aventurine glass” or avventurina ).

Subsequently, all things are dotted with small bright dots of “adventurine” including natural things as the stone aventurine (pietra venturina).

Some argue for the opposite of this explanation: it might be natural adventurine that gave its name to the artificial. This version is unlikely because there is no trace of this name before. It is also possible that the glassmakers invented the story in response to the curious too interested in their manufacturing secrets. Chance does things well and cannot be explained!

In France, the first written trace of the stone called “aventurine” dates from 1686. We owe this testimony to a very famous lady of this century, Madame de Maintenon: “I found that a rosary that I believed the nuns was calambur and another of aventurine …  “

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Aventurine throughout history

Aventurine in the ancient world

The Egyptians exploited quartz mines and found in Upper Egypt greenish micaceous quartz that might well be aventurine but we do not know the old name or names of the aventurine. Modern naturalists have tried some approximations but without certainty.

According to the descriptions left by Pliny and by other authors of Antiquity, the aventurine could hide, among others, behind these strange minerals:

The coralleachate or coralloagate , a coral red precious stone dotted with small golden dots.

The star or starry stone, so called because “we see the figure of all the stars”, the most beautiful come from Egypt and Arabia; it is the size as opal.

The sandarésus or sandastros , found in India and southern Arabia, a religious stone of the Chaldeans, with an interior fire placed behind a transparent substance shining with stars that seem like drops of gold.

On the other side of the sea, pre-Columbian civilizations have left some concrete evidence and one can see in the British Museum of London, a famous statuette of the very old Olmec civilization. This curious character of about thirty centimeters, is in green aventurine, stocky with a big human or animal head, it dates from 400 BC

Adventurine in the middle Ages

Jean de Mandeville, explorer and naturalist tells us about a stone that could well be the medieval aventurine:

“Stone verde tasted like drops of gold: this stone gives” moult “of goods to the one who wears it. It is good for people who are fearful because it gives boldness, good sense and good countenances grace and honor …  “but it is also specified that this stone being a holy stone, we must avoid lust.

Adventure in modern times

As we have seen, in the 17th century, stones with small bright dots are called aventurines. The difference between minerals is not yet well established. On the one hand there are the stones, natural aventurines, and on the other hand the artificial aventurine, this wonderful glass of Venice with golden particles.

From that time, a third aventurine is very famous: the Chinese and Japanese aventurine lacquer. This vegetable lacquer is obtained from latex derived from Asian softwoods “lacquer tree”. On this lacquer, often black, flakes of mica, bronze or gold are blown.

This very delicate art is very pleasing in France, and the ships of the East India Company bring a number of screens and delightful objects in aventurine lacquer. We try to imitate these complex processes but not possessing trees or know-how, we create very beautiful varnishes (the famous Martin varnishes) with adventurized varieties that will contribute to the renown of the French cabinetmaking under Louis XV.

In the eighteenth century, scholars pondered the fate of the stone aventurine. It is described as a kind of yellowish or yellow-brown gemstone with small gold dots that gives it a lot of brilliance. Diderot in her great Encyclopedia defines her as shimmering and classifies her in precious stones “like agate, lapis and others”.

In 1802, Nicolas Jolyclerc attributes the “label” aventurine to “feldspars sprinkled with small sequins”; he said that the others, the aventurines are “false (although natural)”.

This division into two species, one true feldspar and the other pseudo-aventurine quartz, will persist more or less throughout the nineteenth century. However, some mineralogists, such as Balthazar-George Sage, relate it to the genera of quartz. Today aventurine is definitely a quartz and feldspar that does not belong to the same group can simply be adventurinated.

Russian craftsmen from Yekaterinburg carved an immense basin, in a single block of ocher aventurine extracted on a summit of the Ural around 1830. This imposing work required several years of work, it measures 2.46 m wide and 1.46 m high. It is exposed in the center of the coat of arms of the magnificent Winter Palace of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

Closer to home, under the dome of the Invalides in Paris, visitors from all nations, disturbed by the extreme solemnity of the place, circulate in silence around an impressive realization in quartzite of red aventurine. The tomb of Napoleon I required twenty years of work before being definitively erected under the dome in 1861. The stone comes from Karelia, Finnish region formerly Russian territory. This choice was not unanimous, the emperor would not he wanted a rock extracted from French soil?

Properties and virtues of aventurine in lithotherapy

A stone of introspection and prosperity, aventurine brings positive solutions and promotes general well-being. It absorbs harmful waves including electromagnetic waves present in our environment.

Adventurine is traditionally associated with the heart chakra. It combines very well with pink quartz. The elixirs of aventurine are excellent for all dermatological conditions (eczema, acne …).

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The benefits of aventurine against physical ailments

  • Soothes dermatoses (eczema and other rashes)
  • Promotes the harmonious growth of young children
  • Regulates heart rate (beneficial action on heart conditions in general)
  • Improves circulatory disorders
  • Activates cellular regeneration
  • Balance the blood pressure
  • Promotes lowering cholesterol
  • Relaxes the muscles
  • Preserves the urogenital system
  • Soothes tired eyes
  • Attenuates headaches
  • Calm nausea (green aventurine)

The benefits of aventurine on the psyche and relational

  • Brings a clear and positive view of events
  • Soothes fears and anxieties (especially of early childhood)
  • Promotes inner tranquility, self-control
  • Boosts decision-making ability
  • Help to complete the projects (patience and perseverance)
  • Calm the anger
  • Stimulates creativity
  • Promotes compassion

Properties and Virtues of the Carnelian

  • March 8, 2019

Carnelian frequently accompanies emerald, turquoise and lapis lazuli in ancient Egypt. This blood-red stone, the color of the rising and setting sun, symbolizes the terrestrial life and the passage in the other world. It also represents the disk of solar gods that will become the halo of new religions. This sacred emblem crowns the god Re, Isis and his falcon-headed son Horus, Uræus the female cobra, and Hathor the horned goddess. A great example is the Tutankhamen breastplate exhibited at the Cairo Museum.

Cornalines must be bright and vibrant. In the 18th century, the great naturalist Buffon writes:

Mineralogical characteristics of carnelian

Carnelian belongs to the family of chalcedonies such as agates, jasper, onyx, sardoine, heliotrope or chrysoprase. This quartz, often brightly colored, consists mainly of silica and aluminum oxide. In the vast group of silicates they belong, by their architectural structure, to the sub-group of tectosilicates. These represent more than half of the mineral kingdom of the earth’s crust.

Carnelian is usually formed at low temperatures in volcanic rock cavities. Mainly composed of micro-crystals agglomerated in rounded masses, one can also observe it in the form of veining traversing other crystals. It holds its red color of iron oxide. The intensity of the hue may vary from red blood, the most esteemed, to russet orange.

Confusions and Possible Frauds

The confusion with sardoine is very frequent because it is very similar to him. However, sardoine (or Sardinian) shows a less translucent appearance and especially a browner coloring. Carnelian pulp is also finer than that of agates and does not usually have pronounced zoning. This united aspect also differentiates it from jasper.

For a long time, it is known to accentuate the hue of cornalines by heating, even by a simple exposure to the sun. A heat treatment “embellisher”, commonly allows more common agates to pass for cornalines the real red cornalines of good quality become rare.

Provenances of the Carnelian

The most famous cornalines come from India, mainly from the region of Pune.  Other extraction sites are found in Brazil, Peru, Uruguay, the United States (in Washington State), Mali, Scotland, Iceland and Romania.

Etymology of the word “Carnelian”

The traditional explanation is that the carnelian would take its name from the reddish fruit of the dogwood, the cornel. This shrub, of the plant family of the cornaceae, grows in the natural state at the edge of the forests and in the hedges of the eastern Mediterranean countries. The Latin origin of dogwood and dogwood is corneolus (“appearance of the horn”) in reference to the hardness of its core.

A less frequent but probably more accurate interpretation indicates that carnelian comes from carneolus (appearance of the flesh) referring to its light red hue. Our carnelian would then belong to the same family as carnation and other predator and carnivore. The word would have been improperly transcribed corneolus . The Romans mean indifferently carnelian and sardoine of the same name sardus or sarda .

The word carnelian probably originated in the middle Ages. At that time, the language used by scholars was Medieval Latin, an altered form of classical Latin. The corneolus form is most often found in ancient lapidaries, and the Frenchized forms become corneol and then corneline . The inventory of John, Duke of Berry, evokes “two grants cornalynes “. From the sixteenth century, the carnelian takes its current form.

It should be noted that large glass balls, beautifully called “agates” in old playgrounds, become “cornalines” in French-speaking Switzerland.

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The Carnelian throughout History

The Carnelian in Antiquity

The earliest concrete testimonies come from Mesopotamia. They date back to around 2700 BC the remains of Queen Pu-abi were found in the tombs of the ancient city of Ur. She wears countless necklaces and a gold lapis lazuli and carnelian headdress (see illustration below from the Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology, USA).

Excavations at a nearby tomb have revealed a kind of little chest, known as Ur’s Standard. Decorated with friezes of warlike adventures, we see characters and horses made of ivory and mother-of-pearl enhanced with Indian red carnelian. It is visible at the British Museum in London.

The Cabinet des Medailles in Paris has a tiny carnelian from the ancient Cretan Minoan civilization. Dating from the second millennium BC, this intaglio, engraved with great dexterity, represents an eagle removing a heron.

In Egypt, the carnelian protects the pharaoh and the solar gods. We find this sacred stone frequently enshrined in royal ornaments.

The Musée de l’Antique in Arles has a jewel representing this trend, in the form of a ram-headed hawk covered with a cloisonne of multicolored precious stones. The red feathers are made of carnelian. This fabulous bird dates from 1550 BC. Auguste Mariette discovered it in the 19th century during excavations at the tombs of the sacred bulls of Saqqara.

Egyptian lithotherapy also uses carnelian for curative purposes which does not seem the case of the Greeks and Romans. It is however one of the most appreciated stones. The sardines should preferably have a bright, intense red like the flesh, without any haze or unsightly filaments.

Pliny the Elder reports that the purest cornalines have “a figure of heart “. These are male stones from the quarries of ancient Babylon already in ruins in the 1st century AD. It also comes from India, Ceylon, Arabia and Paros and Assos in Greece. These, described as females, often have “tones of honey or terra cotta” much less esteemed.

The Romans place under the carnelian a little dull, a thin sheet of gold or silver to enhance their color as is still practiced today. Besides, the manufacture of jewelry and various small objects, the fine material of the carnelian allows beautiful achievements of colored cameos. It is also used for the intaglio engraving of stamps and “annulus signatorius “(rings to be signed).

The Carnelian in the middle Ages

The West of the middle Ages knows and uses carnelian. Bishop Marbode evokes it from the eleventh century: “The horn is stone oscure (obscure), grant virtue has its nature “. Medieval lithotherapy recognizes him with pleasant qualities:

The carnelian, red as the heart, transmits courage on the battlefield. The heart (the cuer ) symbolizes the courage and the virtues warriors, hence the expressions: “heart to the work”, “high hearts” … Logically, it also evokes the color of the blood, and it is recommended to stop haemorrhages of all kinds.

In the East, its tonic and astringent properties are commonly used.  The Chinese exploit another quality of carnelian: its resistance to the heat of the oven. They mix carnelian powder called “ma-nao “with copper oxide to obtain a powerful red for enameling fine porcelain.

The carnelian in the Renaissance

Two types of carnelian are described: one bright red, called “old rock”, comes from the Orient. The other, more ordinary, “cinnabar red”, is commonly found in Germany near the Rhine or in Italy. A scholar, Anselme Boethius Boot distinguishes a third species, very pale, yellow-orange. This Flemish doctor also specifies the indications of carnelian:

Renaissance artists engrave carnelian with great skill. The Cabinet of Medals retains the famous “seal of Michelangelo” that would have belonged to the artist before joining the collection of kings of France.

It is a carnelian of 3, 5 x 2,5cm reproducing intaglio, a scene of finely detailed harvest, populated with fifteen characters and various animals. It has long been thought, as the Egyptologist Auguste Mariette, that this perfectly executed work, dated back to antiquity. In fact, it would be a friend of Michelangelo who would have realized: The famous engraver Pier-Maria de Pescia.

The cathedral of Reims holds a very different treasure, but with the course and history equally interesting. It is the nave of St. Ursula, ship of gold and silver, decorated with carnelian of Japan.

Its history begins in 1500, when the city of Tours offers it to Anne of Brittany. Later, the queen makes it an object of devotion by adding twelve small statuettes: a gold statuette representing St. Ursula and eleven statuettes of holy virgins enamelled silver.

The nave then belonged to Queen Claude of France, then to Henry II, who had it repaired.  In 1574, Henry III offers it to the cathedral of Reims on the occasion of his coronation. The nave of Saint Ursula is visible today at the Palais du Tau located near the cathedral.

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The Carnelian in Modern Times

Thanks to the expansion of trade, carnelian loses some of its rarity in Western countries. From the seventeenth century, the famous stones, “old rocks” arrive in large numbers thanks to the VOC, the Dutch maritime trade. They come primarily from Japan where they usually undergo a treatment to enhance their color. These cornalines are frequently exchanged for German agates called “Oberstein”. Multicolored and often herborised, the Chinese particularly appreciate them.

The carnelian becomes a semi-precious stone, very appreciated in goldsmith’s art and for the creation of small objects of decorative or useful objects such as snuffboxes. The pale, yellowish carnelian is always discarded. Edme-François de Gersaint, a merchant of art and natural curiosities in Paris, wrote in the 18th century that carnelian must present a “bright red color of freshly cut flesh”. For the Swedish mineralogist Wallerius, the beautiful carnelian is “like the serosity of the blood”.

Some scholars, however, are interested in imperfect coralines : stained, milky, or crossed irregularities. Jean-Christian Kundmann, doctor-naturalist and antiquary gives the name of “stone of Saint-Etienne” to a whitish carnelian spotted with blood red.

Louis Daubenton, the first director of the National Museum of Natural History, describes a carnelian-onyx, a winged carnelian and a carnelian carnelian. The latter says he is more beautiful and more esteemed than the simple agate of the same name because “its vibrant colors of several shades of red form a delightful picture of small flowering mosses “. At the same time, we discover, on limestone hills near Le Havre, some curious samples of carnelian alternated with chalcedonies “water color”.

In the gallery of coaches of the Palace of Versailles, one can admire a sumptuous sedan with four windows and inside padded with ivory satin. Named “Carnelian”, it is used for the wedding of Napoleon I with Marie-Louise. She accompanies other ceremonial cars with precious names: Amethyst, Turquoise and Topaz.

Napoleon also has real cornalines. The museum of the Army to the Invalides exposes a small gusset lorgnette made of carnelian, suspended with a chain of gold. The emperor uses this miniature telescope in all his military campaigns.

The Virtues of the Carnelian in Lithotherapy

The carnelian symbolizes blood and vitality. It has always been given positive and protective effects, especially for women, children and the elderly.

The Benefits of Carnelian against Physical Aches

  • Stop bleeding (of all origins)
  • Activates the healing of wounds
  • Relieves rheumatism, osteoarthritis
  • Calm neuralgia, low back pain
  • Strengthens the circulatory system, the heart
  • Purifies the blood, protects the kidneys
  • Relieves stomachaches: colic, colitis, painful menstruation
  • Facilitates digestion and intestinal transit
  • Promotes sexual fulfillment (impotence fight, frigidity)
  • Improves fertility
  • Strengthens bones and ligaments

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The Benefits of Carnelian on Psychism and Relational

  • Restores vitality and energy
  • Transmits the love of life
  • Removes the fear of death
  • Fight against apathetic, depressive states
  • Promotes resolution, success
  • Facilitates adaptation to new situations
  • Stimulates concentration and meditation
  • Strengthens the memory
  • Give confidence to the shy
  • Encourages speaking skills and stimulates speech
  • Increases resistance to adversity, abuse
  • Soothes anger, resentment and jealousy
  • Maintains and stimulates creativity
  • Protects the house

Carnelian essentially activates the root, sacred and solar plexus chakras (in direct contact with the skin). It can be used as a tonic and detoxifying elixir.

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