We are in Autumn in Australia and for a lot of the east coast of Australia, it has rained and rained and rained, resulting in extensive and destructive flooding. Other parts of the east coast, the south and the west have had mainly dry and sunny weather. When its not raining excessively, the autumn months are usually enjoyable, with cooler mornings and nights and sunny days. The leaves on deciduous trees change colour and glow with orange, red and yellow shades. It is a lovely time for walks and for having coffee with friends outdoors.
So I want to celebrate the colours of Autumn and what better place to start than with jewellery set with microcrystalline (also called cryptocrystalline) quartz gemstones. This category of quartz contains varieties of chalcedony gemstones, such as agates, carnelian, sard, sardonyx, chrysopase, jasper and bloodstone. Pure chalecedony is white but the addition of iron oxide results in an orange, red orange to dark orange brown translucent gems called carnelian and sard. Sard is generally a darker colour than carnelian. Sometimes these stones contain white bands and are then called carnelian onyx or sardonyx. The bands are layered in parallel bands and the Victorian sardonyx drop earrings pictured below are a good example of this straight layering.
The Victorian swivel fob below is an example of carnelian onyx. It is a gorgeous piece, showing lovely layering, set in an ornate 18ct gold frame, really unusual.
When the bands in a piece of chalcedony quartz do not run parallel, but bend, then it may more correctly be described as a piece of agate, another category of chalcedony quartz. The vintage brooch below shows all of the colours of carnelian/sard but you can see that the bands have distinct kinks in the way that they run.
Next week I will talk about a couple more pieces of autumn coloured quartz as well as some other similarly coloured gemstones.