Friday, December 30, 2016

January's Birthstone: Glimmering Garnet

Garnet in Jewelry and Décor:

            Garnet comes in a variety of colors, making it an interesting and beautiful stone to use in jewelry. The red and most common variety of garnet is called almandine. Spessartite garnet refers to garnet that is yellow, rose, orange, or deep brown colors, rich and dazzling. The most rare and prized color of garnet is the emerald and bright green variety, called demantoid. Touchstone Gallery has a wide variety of garnet jewelry, in many different colors, perfect for January babies and jewelry lovers alike.

Scientific Information:
            Garnet is the name of a group of minerals that comes in a rainbow of colors, from the deep red of the Pyrope garnet to the vibrant green of tsavorites. Some rare garnets are even blue, colorless, or—most rare of all—change colors in different lights. But the most common color is a beautiful range of reds, from rust colored to deep violet-red. Red garnet is one of the most common and widespread of gems, found in metamorphic rocks (which are rocks altered by heat and pressure) on every continent. But not all garnets are as abundant as the red ones. A green garnet, tsavorite, also occurs in metamorphic rocks, but it’s rarer because it needs unusual rock chemistries and special conditions to form.

Revealed by Man:
            The garnet is so durable, that remnants of garnet jewelry can be found as far back as the Bronze Age. Other references go back to 3100 BC when the Egyptians used garnet as inlays in their jewelry and carvings. The Egyptians even said it was the symbol of life. The garnet was very popular with the Romans in the 3rd and 4th Century.

Legend and Lore:
            Garnet was used as a talisman for protection both by warriors going into battle and to those who wanted to ward off pestilence and plague. Some ancient healers and wise men even placed garnets in wounds and praised its healing powers. Garnet jewelry has been a fixture throughout the ages. Garnets were often used as signet rings in ancient Rome, and the nobility favored garnets in the Middle Ages. In metaphysical use, garnet is thought to reduce body toxins, purify vital organs and blood, and assists in assimilation of vitamins and minerals. Emotionally it provides a protective and calming influence during use and is thought to heal melancholy and depression, strengthening the survival instinct, and bringing courage and hope into critical situations.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

It's Holiday Season at Touchstone!

Touchstone Gallery is the place to go if you want an elegant and unique gift for a loved one. You can see the stunning work of Mark Hines on the was of the Santa Fe gallery (pictured above). We also offer many types of jewelry inlaid with lustrous minerals. Our unusual fossil collection is sure to amaze the receiver of such a gift!

Light your way through the Holidays with these handcrafted oil lamps!

We invite you to take a look at what we have to offer for your home and office. Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

December's Birthstone : Zealous Zircon!

Zircon in Jewelry:        

          Zircon comes in many natural colors, making this gem a versatile one for its use in jewelry. Its range of colors include completely colorless (white), yellow, orange, red, green, blue, violet, brown and combinations in between. Yellow-brown to orange and red zircon are the most common. Blue is the most popular, but its color is obtained through the heating of brown zircon. Zircon is very vibrant, making it a sought-out item in earrings, rings, necklaces, bracelets and more!

Mineral Formation:
          The formation of Zircon itself is a tetragonal crystal system. Zircon crystals grow in a wide variety of rocks, and have many different physical and optical properties. Geologists typically classify Zircon in three ways: high, immediate, and low. These classifications have to do with the effects these crystals have due to radioactivity. “Low Zircons” have to do with the intense breakdown that radioactivity has had on the Zircon. They have severe crystal structure breakdown, with no clear crystal order. If you heat a low zircon gem at high temperatures, sometime reduce the damage. “Immediate Zircons” have had some structural damage due to radioactivity, but not nearly as severe as low Zircons. “High Zircons” have little to no impurities due to radioactive destruction. These Zircons are the one with the typical optical and physical properties. 

Legend and Lore:
          Zircon’s name is derived from Persian word “zargun” meaning golden-colored. This word is at some point transformed into "jargoon", a term applied to lighter zircons. The English version of the word "zircon" is derived from "Zircon," which is the German adaptation of this word. One shade of Zircon, that being Red zircon, is called “hyacinth”, from the flower Hyacinthus, whose name is of Ancient Greek origin.

          Throughout the years, many have wondered if Zircon is a dangerous crystal due to its radioactivity. A few occurrences throughout history have seemed to stunt the sales and distribution, however it has since been proven that there is very little to no danger when it comes to these crystals. Especially when Zircon is in jewelry or on a small scale, there is truly no need to worry about health risks whatsoever. 

Revealed by Man:
          Zircon is the known oldest mineral on the planet, dating back 4.5 billion years. That’s older than the moon! It is unclear when the very first piece was discovered, however there are many known deposits worldwide. Australia is where the oldest piece has been found, but Myanmar, Cambodia, and Brazil are also notable sources.

Touchstone Gallery invites you to view our current offerings of zircon and many other fascinating natural art pieces in our Touchstone Galleries in Santa Fe (127 W. San Francisco St.), Sedona (320 N. State Route 89A) and Taos (110 S. Plaza), or online at