Ammolite, a vibrant gem found predominantly in southern Alberta, is set to become the province’s official gemstone.
Famous for its iridescent opal-like play of colour, ammolite is formed from an ancient marine fossil called ammonite, which lived in an inland sea east of the Rocky Mountains. The gemstone was first discovered by the Geological Survey of Canada in 1906, reports Korite, the largest commercial producer of ammolite. It received official gemstone status from the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) in 1981.
“Alberta is world renowned for its fossil resources,” says Craig Scott, PhD, director of preservation and research for the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. “The designation of ammolite as Alberta’s official gemstone adds to this reputation and speaks to the remarkable history of ancient life recorded in the rocks throughout the province.”
Ammonite shells have been collected by Plains First Nations for a thousand years, the Province of Alberta reports, and are still collected by Blackfoot communities for sacred purposes.
There is no official gemstone currently recognized in the Emblems of Alberta Act, the province reports. Passing the amendment will recognize ammolite alongside other official emblems such as the coat of arms, flag, and wild rose.
“Ammolite is an important part of our heritage and economy,” says Alberta’s minister of culture, Ron Orr. “Recognizing ammolite as Alberta’s official gemstone reflects the unique nature of the stone and of our province, and helps to fulfil recommendation 25 of the Fair Deal Panel.”
For more on Canada’s gemstones, see ‘The wonders of Canada’ by Lauriane Lognay.