Ancient slumber yields gems
A Canadian fossil hunter is bringing rare, brilliant gems to global markets.
06 January 2023
Rarity brings value and one way to ensure you have a rare product is to source glittering stones that were made 71 million years ago and are found in just one place on Earth.
Ammonites were cephalopods – a class of mollusc that includes octopus and squid – that died out 65 million years ago, along with dinosaurs, and resembled the modern nautilus,.
The creatures lived in oceans across the Cretaceous world and left remains around the globe, especially in the rich fossil beds of southern Alberta in Canada and neighbouring Montana in the United States. And it was in Alberta that a combination of unique geological factors turned the fossils into the mineral ammolite that yields brilliant gemstones found in the Bearpaw Formation in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
Canadian company KORITE International is mining and processing the fossils and has found a ready market for the iridescent jewellery across the world, especially in Asia.
John Issa, Vice President of Business Development at KORITE, explained the rarity value of ammolite stones which, like the opals found in Coober Pedy in Australia, come from just one site.
“Only in one small, 10 square kilometre area in southern Alberta are ammonites found with a very colourful nacre that is thick enough to cut into gemstones as well as finding the gem in concentrations high enough to warrant operating a very expensive mine,” Mr Issa said.
“A perfect combination of factors led to the creation of the gem we find here. A combination of the right type of ammonite buried in the correct type of rich soil with a perfect combination of minerals, with just the right amount of heat, excess pressure, lack of oxygen or water and just the perfect amount of time led to the creation of this gemstone. It is truly a geological fluke!”
He said the Blackfoot First Nation had discovered Iniskim (buffalo stone) and KORITE explores partnerships with the First Nations groups, but leaves First Nations-inspired designs to them.
“KORITE’s designs are clean and simple, letting the ammolite gemstone remain the focal point of the piece. We accentuate the design with precious metals and accent stones, but the focus will always remain the same with the beautiful ammolite gemstone as the star!”
Canada has a long history as a gold producer, Mr Issa added, and KORITE often drew on the expertise of goldsmiths to make ammolite jewellery.
KORITE’s former sister company Canada Fossils, which is now a division of Korite, draws on another resource – a wide range of fossils found in the sedimentary beds in the neighbouring US.
“Canada Fossils dug for dinosaurs in Montana for many years. We have put more than 30 original dinosaur skeletons in museums throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East and, of course, Canada and the US. We have discovered three new genus’s of dinosaurs and helped increase the world’s knowledge of fossils around the globe.”
KORITE has stores selling the jewels in North America and partners with many distributors in Asia. “In fact, a standalone ammolite gallery recently opened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia dedicated to KORITE Ammolite. We have more planned across many markets in 2023 and beyond.”
The firm also markets through its own website KORITE.com, digital channels such as T-Mall/Taobao, while retail partners sell the jewellery through their own websites as well as popular platforms, such as Amazon.
He said KORITE might be interested in displaying its products through events, such as the HKTDC Hong Kong International Jewellery Show.
- Hong Kong
- North America
- Hong Kong