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Beads Made From Semi-Precious Stones

Beads Made From Semi-Precious Stones

Used by ancient cultures long before they developed the technology to manufacture them from raw materials, beads carved of stone are found in archaeological sites throughout the world. These semi-precious, translucent or opaque stones make beads as unique as the most intricate, hand-made, lampwork glass beads. Each carved stone bead has its own demarcation, its own patterns of coloration. A few well-placed stone beads on an item of clothing, can elevate a plain outfit into an elegant, unforgettable one.

Hematite: Used by the Egyptians to decorate both their tombs and the items contained within them, hematite is a heavy, shiny, silvery opaque stone. It looks a lot like metal in its most common color of deep gray to black. The iron it contains oxidizes, leaving a reddish, rust-colored coating on sedimentary rocks. This reddish coloration is the origin of its name: Hemitate is the Greek word for blood.

Jade: Jade beaded necklaces are said to bring prosperity, wisdom, health, and good luck to the person who wears them. Popular in Asia for millennia jade is a prized possession given to children at birth. Although green is the most wildly known color of jade, it is also available in white, yellow, orange, pink, lavender, and red. Jade combines well with other gemstones, especially pearls.

Jasper: Known for its stripes, circles, or spots, jasper means “spotted stones” in Greek. Although the most plentiful coloration is whitish-gray to black, it also comes in red, brown, yellow, green, blue, purple, and pink. The striations often look like landscapes, with mountains, hills, and valleys. Many common names for jasper often reflect this and include the word “picture” as part of it. In folklore, jasper was said to drive away evil spirits.

Labradorite: Said to bring inner peace and to calm conflicts of the mind, labradorite is indigenous to Labrador, Canada. It evokes a opalescent glow, called a shiller, that is often shown off in jewelry settings. The glow in labradorite comes from light refracting from microscopic inter-grown crystals, as well as ilmenite, hematite, and magnetite.

Lapis Lazuli: Called “the stone of truth,” lapis lazuli is said to offer protection from depression, grief, and sadness. Its bright metallic specks in the deep blue background give it depth and an inner light. Often filled with white lines, or inclusions, the most desirable specimens are the ones with the fewest number of these. Latin for “blue stone,” lapis lazuli was used as an aphrodisiac by the Romans. The best quality stone is mined in Afghanistan, and has been mined there for over 6,000 years.

Copyright Sharon Shares, 2011