Friday, January 24, 2014

A is for Amethyst, Agate and Acids

Introducing a new ABC blog series based on jewellery items and tools I use, gemstones and other materials, jewellery care and so on. It wont be all-encompassing but I hope it is of interest. Naturally, I shall start at the beginning...
Amethyst stones
There are several gemstones starting with the letter A. Let's focus on just two of the more popular ones, amethyst and agate. Born in February, amethyst is my birthstone. The photo below is of an amethyst and oxidised sterling silver necklace I made for myself , a design I will be tweaking for my Etsy shop. This purple stone is the most highly prized of the quartz group and is especially gorgeous when polished and faceted to reflect the light.
amethyst & oxidised sterling silver necklace
Traditionally it is associated with Royalty and healers consider it a power stone. The name comes from the Greek word 'amethystos' meaning not drunken as the Ancient Greeks believed it would help keep them sober. If you own a piece, keep it out of direct sunlight as it will fade. For more detailed information on this purple gemstone please read one of my archived posts 'Purple Amethyst, February Birthstone.

Agate Slice Pendant. Yellow Sunshine Slab of Stone. Celtic Sun. Optional Chain.
citric agate slice pendant

Celtic Pendant. Black Agate Slice with Sterling Silver Swirl. Midnight in Dublin
Black banded agate pendant
Another old favourite is Agate, a semi-transparent member of the chalcedony family of quartzes. It comes in shades of of cloudy white, grey, black, some blues and warmer shades of reds and oranges. The banded variety can be spectacularly beautiful with stunning 'stripes' of colour. Agate has been carved for decorative artifacts at least since the bronze age. It is a hard and durable stone which wears very well. It is very cold to the touch but warms up nicely against the skin.
red agate teardop pendant
Traditionally, agate has been used as an amulet believed to provide protection and strength, and as a healing stone aiding restful sleep and said to quench thirst. I love it for its bold colours and smoothness. 
agate burnishing tool for use on metals
In jewellery making, I use an agate burnisher for polishing and smoothing bumps and edges of wire. When making the (sold) Connemara marble pendant above, I had filed parts of the plated wire to expose the copper beneath for a rustic look. Then I painstakingly smoothed over the wire with the burnisher to ensure there were no rough edges or flakes.
A is also for Acids. Some can be useful to you, for example a few drops of lemon in water with half a spoon of salt is great for lifting tarnish off un-lacquered copper. However, gemstones and pearls generally hate acids, including cooking ingredients such as vinegar! Watch out for splashes when cooking or when cleaning with household chemicals.

Lastly, let's not forget, A is for Amo'r, Handmade by Amo'r! 



  1. What a great idea for a blog! Very informative. I shall be tuned in waiting for B!

    1. cheers Sarah. Looking at my draft list of things I can include under each letter, I have enough to do 2 articles per considering doing one per week, enough to do me a year...