Something Cheeky...

Akoya Wish Pearls

Akoya Wish Pearls

Hello readers!  As you may know, we had our MASSIVE show going on at the Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg from October 12th to the 16th!  Everything inside looked so amazing – rocks and minerals and fossils – oh, my!  There were our new crystal singing bowls, unique specimens (I picked up a Carnelian heart!), amethyst tables, salt lamps, geodes, spheres and crystal skulls; something for everyone! Even the ambiance with the lighting and music made it quite an experience, even as a staff member.

But I just had to do a blog about our wish pearls; they are so gorgeous and it really is a unique experience getting one.

First, you get to choose which oyster to shuck; then you think of a wish, tap three times on the oyster shell, and shout “Ni Hao!” to give thanks to the oyster and welcome your wish into the world!

It’s honestly like a Kinder Surprise for adults (and kids!) without any risk whatsoever of getting a tiny puzzle that you’ll never put together.  There’s so many different colors that you can get, and some people have even gotten twins inside their oyster!

And don’t worry, readers, the oysters are not alive when they are shucked – they have been preserved before being delivered to us, and we use all parts of the oysters – we even clean and use the shells for smudging and jewelry/decorating.

Wish Pearl

Our Akoya pearls (binomial name of pinctada fucata) are saltwater cultured pearls that come from Asia. Though they commonly come from Japan, they’re also found in the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Western Pacific Ocean, and coastal waters of India, China and Korea.

I’ve done some research on oysters and pearls, and learned some neat facts;

-Unlike freshwater pearls, which can yield up to 50 pearls per mollusk, Akoya oysters only create up to 3 at a time.

-All oysters that produce pearls are born male, and transform into a female when they’re around 3 years old.

-Pearls have been considered precious and used in art and jewelry since 2300 BC in Mesopotamia!

-A fisherman in the Philippines recently reported that he had a massive natural pearl that he found – it weighs 75 pounds and is valued in excess of $100 million USD.

That’s all I’ve got time for this week, since we are now preparing to open our Winnipeg location! It’s such a massive undertaking and it’s an overwhelming feeling, seeing how much the work of the Jacobs family has come so far in such a little time.  We have three major shows every year, many new projects, and awesome new staff members, it’s been a huge whirlwind and a privilege to be a part of and witness!  So, from the bottom of all our hearts, thank you so much for your love and support, and we hope to be around for a very long time!

Wish pearl display

Questions? Warm fuzzies? Something you’d like me to blog about?
Let me know in the comments!

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Anne-Marie Richer

 

Anne-Marie is a creative writer and Intuitive Card Reader at
Jacobs Trading Ye Olde Rock Shop.  

Check out her Facebook Page!

Space… the final FUNtier

Space… the final FUNtier

Today, we’re going to learn about meteorites!

First of all, we have to talk about the different distinctions of things flying in space. A comet is a solid body usually made of rock, dust, gases and ice; A meteor is the light emitted when an asteroid or meteorite is falling through our atmosphere; An asteroid is smaller debris flying around, usually composed of iron and ice, while a meteorite is a small asteroid.

At the shop, we carry Campo Del Cielo and Nantan meteorites;

The history of Campo Del Cielo (‘Field of Heaven’) is quite rocky (heh..). It was long known to exist, by the native inhabitants in Argentina who used the iron meteorites to create weapons and tools. In 1576, a governor sent out a military group to search for this huge mass of iron. They found a massive part sticking out of the soil, took a sample, and left. The governor figured that was a good day, documented everything, forgot about it, and eventually it was dismissed as local folklore.

Then in 1774, someone else ‘discovered’ it, and renamed it ‘el Meson de Fierro’ (the Table of Iron), thinking it was a naturally occurring iron vein, and left it.
THEN in 1783, someone decided to blow up the area around the mass and figured it was one solid piece. He didn’t think it was worth anything, until samples proved it was an unusually pure iron, likely from a meteorite.

Campo Del Cielo is an area of 26 craters, spanning 55.5 square kilometers. Using carbon dating, scientists were able to determine that this meteorite likely fell to Earth around 4,200 – 4,700 years ago. The biggest single piece weighs 67,902 pounds (about 4 times the weight of an elephant) and was found this year.

Campo Del Cielo Meteorite

Nantan meteorites are said to have been observed falling to Earth in the year 1516 in China. Spanning 224 square kilometers, the meteor pieces that fell weren’t actually retrieved until the 1950’s, when the metal was needed for the growing industrialization of China (which later ended up being no good since it had too much nickel for smelting.) The single biggest piece weighs 4,409 pounds (or about 5 times the weight of a grand piano).


Now, the fun part! How to identify a meteorite!

Do you have a stone in your possession that you maybe were given to by a distant relative, something you found on a walk with the dogs? Sorry to say, chances are that it’s not a meteorite. It’s more likely that you will find a melted pop can from a campfire stuck in the sand than it is for you to happen upon a meteorite.

There are ways for you to tell! You can do a magnetic test using a high quality magnet – 99% of meteorites will attract it. You can also try a chemical test for nickel, but slag (waste products of smelting and refining ore) can test positive as well. Your best bet is to call your local museum or university to see if they have anyone on staff who is familiar with meteorite identification.

Mad Scientist

Have you ever seen a meteorite up close? It’s one of the most amazing things, holding a piece of space that was hurdling around the universe at anywhere from 11 to 72 kilometers per second for millions of years, and came to Earth from as far out as the orbit of Pluto (which is totally a planet by the way). Come to the shop and hold one of our meteorites or tektites (molten debris formed from a meteorite impact that sometimes looks like Kryptonite); is that neat, ore what! It might have a real impact on you!

Questions? Warm fuzzies? Something you’d like me to blog about? Let me know in the comments!
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Anne-Marie Richer

Anne-Marie is a creative writer and Intuitive Card Reader at
Jacobs Trading Ye Olde Rock Shop.  

Check out her Facebook Page!

Because Science!

Because Science!

Today I want to weigh the issues about synthetic gems vs. naturally occurring gems, and the stigma around them.

You may have heard the term ‘synthetic gemstones’, ‘lab-created gemstones’, and ‘simulated gemstones’.  Synthetic and lab-created gemstones are the same thing; the stones are real and have almost exactly (if not the very same) chemical composition as the Earth-created deal.  These are often hidden behind the name ‘Created Gems’ because someone figured that consumers would not like the other names and want to buy their gems.  Simulated gemstones are stones that are created to be lookalikes, such as glass tiger eye (cat’s eye).

This scenario happens frequently; someone comes into the shop, walks around for an hour or so (not hard to do with all the pretties on the shelves...), and finds a specimen that they absolutely fall in love with.  I am talking about the one that made their eyes sparkle and their hearts flutter and they carried it around with them the entire time.  They bounce up to the check-out and ask what it is.  We explain that it is a beautiful synthetic piece and suddenly their face drops.  You can instantly see them fall out of love with this stone.  It is so disheartening to see!  Sometimes people will ask us, “is this natural or man-made?”  When we tell them it is a lab gem, they grimace and drop the stone back in its bin like it just insulted their best friend.

science

So what is the difference?

Almost nothing, actually.

Let us pause now, for a moment of Science.

Synthetic gemstones (aside from a few that have additional compounds in them) are essentially the same as naturally occurring counterparts, even on a molecular level.  Remember middle-school Chemistry class?  Everything that we touch and see is made up of atoms that are on the Periodic Table of Elements, even the ‘fake’ stuff!

There are four ways that synthetic gem materials can be created:

-Hydrothermal Growth - this uses intense heat and pressure, like the Earth, using compounds dissolved in water, and is still the only successful way to make synthetic quartz

-Flux Growth – much like the Hydrothermal Growth method, flux is melted with other materials, leaving the crystals when the solution cools.

-Crystal Pulling – materials are melted in a container, then a seed crystal is dipped in it and very slowly pulled out of the solution as the crystals form.

-Flame Fusion – This is the method that created the first synthetic gems, and to this day remains the most cost-efficient and standard way to make them.  Powdered chemicals are dropped through a very hot flame onto a platform that rotates.

 Since the late 1800’s, man has been trying to replicate the gems and crystals that the Earth took millions of years to make. Initially, this was done for industrial purposes; trying to make a cheaper product for technological uses (remember, crystals are used in lasers, televisions, glass, rubber, etc.), now it is a booming business, bringing less expensive and conflict-free gemstones to people around the world.

Science has also found a fascinating way to enhance quartz crystals with different metals using infusion.  The quartz crystals are super heated in a vacuum, then vapour is added to the chamber, causing the atoms to fuse to the quartz crystal.  Rainbow Titanium Aura Quartz is infused with (wait for it…) titanium, which gives a beautiful rainbow effect. Sunset Aura Quartz is infused with silicon and zirconium, which creates glowing hues of golds and pinks and Angel Aura Quartz is infused with platinum and silver, which looks like a cloud of bubbles, satisfying the summer child in anyone’s heart.

Bismuth is a naturally occurring chemical element – Bi on the Table of Elements with the atomic number 83.  There is twice as much Bismuth than Gold in the Earth’s crust which in its raw form is brittle and looks almost white-ish/silver.  When oxidized, it takes on a rainbow hue.  This element can take on a very unique shape – almost like steps or a mini metropolis.  This can occur naturally, but is virtually never seen.  But somewhere along the line, someone figured out that if you melt Bismuth (its melting point is 271 degrees Celsius!), then scrape off the impurities that rise to the top and let what is left slowly cool, you can ‘grow’ these neat hopper-shaped crystals.  Guess what I want to make now?

Bismuth

There are many other stones that are lab created that will take your breath away.  Opals, Goldstone, Chalcanthite, Opalite, Aqua Blue Obsidian, Moissanite, as well as the better known Emeralds, Rubies, Sapphires, Alexandrite and all of the dyed agates, howlites and magnesites.

While what the Earth has made in its existence is truly fascinating, it is nothing short of amazing what technology has been able to recreate.  We’ve made lightbulbs that can simulate sunlight, fabrics, drugs, oils, entire lakes and land masses, lights so we can still see at night; the list goes on and on. 

Of course everyone has their own personal preferences, but please don’t think that lab created gems are dirty or have insulted your best friend; they just want to be loved, too.

Now, I’d end this blog with a good chemistry joke, but all the good ones Argon.

Questions? Warm fuzzies? Something you’d like me to blog about? Let me know in the comments!

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Anne-Marie

Anne-Marie is a creative writer and Intuitive Card Reader at
Jacobs Trading Ye Olde Rock Shop.  

Check out her Facebook Page!

“I must not tell lies…”

“I must not tell lies…”

So my boss tells me that I’m fast at typing (90 words per minute... no big deal though.) and asks me if I like to write;
Me: “Well… yeah, of course.”
Super pretty Boss Lady: “Do you want to write a blog?”
Me: “About what?
Best Boss Lady ever: “Whatever, about working in the shop and what not.”
Me: *oh my goodness, this is how it must have felt when Harry snuck a sock into the book and gave it to Dobby! I’m freeeeeeee! *
Me: “Uhh, yeah sure, I guess.”

This is how ‘Something Cheeky’ started. You can also guess how it was named.
Awesome Boss Lady: “What do you want to name your Blog?”
Me: *long pause* “I don’t know... something cheeky.”
Boss: *runs away* “Okay!”

And here we are!
I promised that I would never say “You know what really grinds my gears?!”. So instead, I’ll let you know what severely bothers me. Renaming of stones that already. Had. Names. And then charging triple the usual amount for them. Taking advantage of peoples trust in your shop and willingness to spend money. Of course there’s the possibility that some of the people who are selling them truly believe that those are the proper names and work with what they know. But this post is to arm you, the consumer, with knowledge and confidence.

Let’s start with a sampling of some renamed crystals, of which there are literally hundreds that I’ve found so far;

The newest one that I’ve heard about is ‘Auralite 23’. This stone comes from the ‘Canadian Cave of Wonders’ and promises a very strong and powerful energy (since it is claimed to have no less than 23 minerals contained within it). From what I could find in a very brief search, prices for this stone range from $5 to $895. Now here’s the kicker; it is from one place in Canada! This ‘northern beauty’ is actually Thunder Bay amethyst. Thunder Bay amethyst does indeed have some wonderful inclusions visible under low-power magnification. The mineralogy of the amethyst deposits is very, very simple. Inclusions are abundant and consist of hematite in many forms, goethite in brown needles, pyrite cubes, some negative crystals, maybe an iron deposit and that's about it.

Thunder Bay Amethyst
‘Alaska Black Diamond’ is actually just hematite. ‘Alencon Diamond’ is quartz (so is the German Diamond, Arkansas Diamond, Beach Moonstone, Crystalline Emerald, etc. etc.). ‘Water Chrysolite’ which, as dreamy and earthly as it sounds, is actually Moldavite, something solely created when a meteor impact has occurred. And my brand new favorite fake name: ‘Bastard Emerald’ (seriously, this is what they named it.) which is green quartz, peridot, or just about any green stone.

At this point, I’m imagining little oompa loompas running around crystal caves and shops, renaming crystals as they sing their way through. That’s how ridiculous this is getting. I’m sure some of these started as nicknames or terms of endearment, as people often give to inanimate objects that they work with every day (I call this my bloggy-blog, so there’s that.)

oompas
Some shops will be open and honest about whether or not the stone they are selling is man-made. Others simply will not know. Some will take advantage of your good nature and advertise something false. The main point that I’m trying to make here is to trust your gut – if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, chances are that it’s quartz. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Don’t trust everything you read on the internet (with one super obvious exception…). This is the Age of Technology! Let your Google-Fu be strong and guide you.

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Anne-Marie Richer

Anne-Marie is a creative writer and Intuitive Card Reader at
Jacobs Trading Ye Olde Rock Shop.  

Check out her Facebook Page!

 

 

“This isn’t really my thing…”

“This isn’t really my thing…”

I work and live in the humble little blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of Beausejour, Manitoba. This is a typical small town; we have a cute café, bored teenagers, wide roads, and terrible Canadian winters.

The shop I work in is extremely unique and has brought in people from all over the world to check out the rocks, fossils, and crystals. Jacobs Trading is a small family run business that has been open for just over two years now, and business is booming. With a physical shop, an online shop that ships worldwide, three yearly shows, and constant expanding, it’s a fast paced environment full of good vibes and good people.

The shop attracts the old and new generation of rock hounds; those people that can’t travel anywhere without leaving with a pocket full of new treasures. They come to marvel at the rare specimens and the impossibly beautiful fossils from around the world. But we also get customers that come in to purchase rocks and crystals for their metaphysical properties.

Metaphysical? …That’s a thing?
Only for the entirety of human existence.

While definitely not a substitute for medical care or therapy, it is believed that each stone has different energies and can assist and enhance different qualities in your mind, body, and soul. Amethyst for stress, Hematite for protection and grounding, Red Jasper for energy... and so on and so fourth. You can always tell when that has taken someone by surprise because they’ll always hug their fossils tightly, give the tiniest grimace and say, “mmm, crystals aren’t really my thing...”.

Oh, but they are.

While using crystals for metaphysical properties isn’t new by any means, neither is using them in practical and scientific applications. Quartz (the master healer, and soon to be your new favorite mineral...) is the most abundant crystal in the world. While very beautiful in its natural form or even in jewelry, it has been used for so much more.
Quartz HeartQuartz is one part silicon and two parts oxygen (silicon dioxide, or SiO2), and is abundant in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks (remember learning about the rock cycle in middle school?). If you’re wearing a watch right now, chances are the watch face is a crystal lens. They resonate tiny vibrations to assist the mechanical parts of the watch to run smoothly. Do you have one of those fancy new LCD televisions? Do you know what LCD stands for? It means “Liquid Crystal Display”. Crystals in this state carry light and direct it in a very precise way, making it so much more fun to watch curling in those cold winter months. They’re also used in computer parts, fiber optic lines, glass making, sand blasting, making rubber, lenses for lasers, the list really goes on. Essentially, you can’t check the time, check your Facebook, or check the latest hockey score without coming into contact with quartz. Pretty neat, hey?

I’ve dealt with a lot of people who are genuinely curious and want to know more about this aspect of crystals. I’ve dealt with people who taught me a thing or two (or left me behind in the dust, wondering what happened). But every now and then, someone comes into the store and drags along their bad attitude. Perhaps they are scared of the unknown or having a bad day and trying to round up some company. Maybe they’ve had an encounter that left a sour taste in their mouth, or modern entertainment has tainted them and left them thinking it’s for the gypsies of the world to meddle with. Whatever it is, wherever you are, this is something that people find comfort and strength and confidence in. Hurt none, and do what ye will.

So if this still truly isn’t your thing, that’s fine, we won’t judge you....

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Anne-Marie   

Anne-Marie is a creative writer and Intuitive Card Reader at
Jacobs Trading Ye Olde Rock Shop.  


Check out her Facebook Page!