Tag Archives: peridot

(Un)earthly Color

I fell for jacaranda trees when I saw them live for the first time this Spring. They belong in more tropical climes then I do, so I’d only seen them in pictures.

 

I’d been told in the past that my amethyst tree looked like a jacaranda, but when I saw them in person I though they looked carved from tanzanite. (And thus upon my return the hunt for appropriate gems!) I stumbled on this lovely poem when I was looking up the jacaranda for color checks:

 

 

A Jacaranda Tree

Ann Beard

 

 A Jacaranda tree stands tall, and sways as if to say,

Look! At this magnificence, I’m wearing blue today.

forgive the way I shout aloud, my lack of modesty,

but nowhere in this troubled world is finery like me.

 

Light rays slide between each leaf, to settle on the tips

to lightly kiss your face with a hundred million tiny lips.

You only have to lift your eyes to greet the filtered sun

a sight I guarantee will warm the heart of everyone.

 

Though very tall, my leaf is small, its form is one of fern,

large panicles of bluebells swell to trumpet unconcern.

A Bee collecting nectar from an ample deep white throat,

takes flight to join its family, and of its feast to gloat.

 

Look up to see each fern like leaf, floating up on high,

like footprints of a centipede that stroll across the sky

See how far my branches reach, admire their greenery,

so beautiful and strong, I am the Jacaranda tree.

 

When I got home I started puttering with colors to make a jacaranda tree pendant. Alone the tanzanite looked a little too cold, so I mixed in amethyst for warmth, added labradorite for a flash of blue and peridot for a hint of greenery. I think the tanzanite still firmly holds center stage though!

 

Tanzanite is a rare blue/purple/violet gem only found in Tanzania. (Generally it looks more sapphire blue in natural light and more purple in artificial light.) It’s actually much rarer than diamond.

 

Tanzanite is a blue form of zoisite. In 1967 miners discovered some beautiful translucent violet stones while mining for graphite. It gained its trade name of Tanzanite from a marketing campaign by Tiffany & Co. They wanted to emphasize its rarity didn’t think it would sell under the name blue zoisite.

After the first bout of blue stones the trail ran out. All miners found were russet and khaki colored zoisites. They sent samples for study to the same German company that had handled the original gems. The samples were tested, and it was discovered that heating those brown stones to over 700 degrees got rid of the browns and yellows and turned them into the striking blues.

 

At this point it is pretty much assumed that any tanzanite on the market has been heat treated. Since this is a known practice, it isn’t considered a cheat.

 

(When trying to figure out the best colors to describe the stone I was looking color names up online. I think of violet as purple towards the blue end of the spectrum, which it is…but apparently web violet is a from of magenta. Who knew? And who knows why? Why not just call it pale magenta?)

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Magritte’s Peridot

Peridot Flower ArrangementEarlier this summer I went to the World Association of Flower Arrangers Show. I thought it was a regular flower show, so it was not the photography nirvana that I’d been hoping for. The lighting was abysmal, but there were some really clever category challenges.

My favorite was ‘mineral’. The challenge was based on composing a monochrome composition evocative of a mineral. Not all minerals are monochrome, of course… Some pieces really shone, though plenty skipped the mineral inspiration and stuck to color alone.

There was a great arrangement based on peridot. The clean shape and lines combined with such a perfect green were a nice nod to both August’s birthstone (and perhaps unintentionally) to the Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte.

Son of Man by Rene Magritte

Son of Man by Rene Magritte

Magritte is probably best known for his 1964 portrait, The Son of Man. His paintings are often crisp, with sharp lines and a clear demarcation of color. His idealized yet realistic style underscored the unreliability of images.

The classic example is his Ceci n’est pas une pipe. It’s a painting of a pipe with a line underneath it stating ‘this is not a pipe.’ Which is true, it is an image of a pipe. As the artist himself pointed out, try putting tobacco in it. He revisits this same point in the lesser known Ceci n’est pas une pomme, which came to my mind along with The Son of Man when I saw the peridot arrangement at the show.

Peridot is a pale to middling green gemstone. It’s reasonably durable so suitable for rings. Unlike emeralds, which range from pure to blue tinted green, peridot is normally on the yellow shades of green. (It is also known as olivine for it’s tendency towards olive greens.)

What’s interesting is that it is one of the few gemstones that is almost never treated, so the richness of color you see is truly natural. Also interesting is that peridot has been found in meteorites. I got to see a sample at a gem show last week. They weren’t the most beautiful stones, but it was fascinating to see them growing with the so very foreign metal.

Large stones of the purer green color are unusual and becoming harder to come by. That’s part of the reason I mostly use peridot in my tree of life pendants, stones large enough to wire wrap are few and far between. In chips and cabochons peridot tends to have great dept of color, but it also takes faceting well and paler green ones can sparkle brilliantly.

Like most gems that have been known since ancient times, peridot is surrounded by myths and metaphysical attributions. My favorite is that it is supposed to neutralize jealousy and envious thoughts, and so aid in friendships.

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