Colorado amazonite with smoky quartz. Photo by Thomas Spann at http://www.mineralmasterpiece.com/OldCC/Amazonite_6_5_09.htm
Amazonite is a stone I have wanted to try in a jewelry piece for some time because despite its economical price, it can look very beautiful when given its due. (Plus, the name gets more fun to say the more you say it.)
It is a blue-green variety of feldspar, with the chemical formula KAlSi3O8. The source of amazonite’s pastel color has puzzled geologists for many years, and now they believe it to be from trace amounts of lead (or iron, depending on who you talk to). The best amazonites have a fine grain and a little translucency, and at 6 Mohs, they can stand up to some wear. Most amazonite used to be mined in Russia, India, and Brazil, but with the discovery of high quality stones in Colorado, the US is now a major player in the market.
2,000 year old amazonite beads from Mali. Item for sale at http://beadparadise.com/item/Ancient-Amazonite-Beads-Tiny/1706
Amazonite is named for the Amazon River, though the green stones historically found there may have been something altogether different. The material was used frequently for ornamentation across the ancient world, and even traded across civilizations. Parts of the Egyptian Book of the Dead have been found carved into slabs of amazonite. It was also a favorite stone of the ancient Assyrian king/god Belus, founder of Babylon.
Amazonite is said to promote courage and level-headed decisions. When worn around the neck it is intended to prompt truthful, compassionate speech, and hiding an amazonite in a child’s bedroom is said to impel tidiness.