In 1997 I was in my final year of teaching jewellery full time at Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluit. I wanted to create a solo jewellery show- as an example to my students and to show the community that I appreciated what had been shared with me. I decided that I would use only stone from Baffin Island. It became quickly apparent that there were great similarities between the qualities of the stones I found on the ground and the landscape at large.
Since that time I have expanded my vision and started including stones from many regions of Canada. I am constantly looking for stones that are not only beautiful, but also reflect different aspects of the landscape that I have observed.
Ancient Egyptians used hematite to staunch blood and to promote the formation of blood cells. In the middle ages it was known as the “blood stone” because the water used when polishing becomes red during the process. It was often given to warriors before going to battle. It can be turned into a pigment called red ochre that was used in cave paintings and paint pigment.
In Chinese tradition Jade symbolizes the five virtues of humanity: wisdom, justice, compassion, modesty and courage. Jade is tougher than steel but soft enough to be carved.
Two different minerals share the name jade: jadeite and nephrite. Inclusions of chromium give the composition of sodium/aluminum its jade green color.
The legends of Lapis lazuli date back to 5000 B.C. It was the holy stone for Assyrians and brought the blue of the sky and with it the light of the gods to the Earth. It is a compound word taken from the Arabic azul meaning “blue sky” and the Latin lapis meaning “stone.”
The main ingredient of ultramarine, the blue pigment, is known as lazurite. The color comes from sulphur atoms which are an essential part of its make-up. Lazurite is a silica based mineral that develops in masses as heat alters limestone to marble. The higher the content of lazurite, the higher the quality of stone.
Rhodonite is derived from the Greek word rhodon, meaning “rose.” In antiquity rhodonite was given to travellers as a protective stone.
Rhodonite is normally created by metamorphosis in manganese ore mines where it forms into crystals.
Cape Breton, NS & Iqaluit, NU
Serpentine was used by ancient Romans as a protective stone against the powers of darkness. According to legend, beakers made from serpentine would shatter if they came in contact with poison. Bowls and vessels were often made of serpentine.
Sodalite is derived from two Greek words: soda, salt and lithos, stone because it is a stone that contains a lot of salt. Sodalite has been known as the stone of artists, singers, painters and sculptors because it is believed to promote inspiration and creativity.
Sodalite is a dark blue with white streaks, containing sodium as sodium aluminum silicate. Although massive, sodalite samples are opaque crystals that can also be transparent to translucent.