Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Swedish Blue Has a Secret

You know I am always happy to share fascinating facts about gems. And this one is rather grand.

Let me get right to the photo for once, of a little something called Swedish Blue.

The dark blue blob on the bottom part of the stone is from the camera, but I think you can see the overall fabulous color of this cabochon.

And this one, which is even more gorgeous:

So we agree, yes? They're lovely. But what are they? Well, I'll tell you what they're not:  a gem. Or a mineral. They're not glass, either, though they do look a bit glass-like in person. They're called Swedish Blue, and they are...drumroll...slag. Yeah, that's right : iron ore slag.

Slag is the byproduct of smelting metal ores. Essentially these are the "impurities" that were removed from metals like copper, aluminum, and iron. Over time, this slag (which was typically just dumped as waste) changed into a glasslike substance. These particular cabs are called Swedish Blue because they come from a small town in Sweden where the slag was dumped in the 16th and 17th centuries. Fascinating, no?

These babies are OLD! And  so unusual! And a little bit rare, since they only come from one place in the world.

I love the thought of something once considered to be waste now being reclaimed as an item of beauty. I can't wait to sit down and design around them!  :) 

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