It is July of 2016 and it has been a beautiful, if slightly hot, start to summer in southern Ontario. We have just celebrated Canada Day this past weekend and it made me think about the abundance of Canada. My friends and colleagues know that I am a proud Canadian.
Did you know that Canada has an abundance of gems? That we have gems in most provinces! Of course there are the wonderful Canadian diamonds that are found in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. But did you know that Ontario, also, has an active diamond mine. The Victor mine is found near James Bay.
What about Quebec, Saskatchewan? There will soon be a mine opening in Quebec with Saskatchewan not far behind. Canada is the 3rd largest producer of diamonds in the world.
Of course there are other gems found here as well. Those in the trade know, that if you have diamonds, you will have the indicator minerals that lead us to diamonds, such as garnets and diopside. Sometimes, they are too small to be of gem quality but sometimes they can be large enough to be facetted into wonderful gems. From mines like the Jeffrey mines in Quebec we see wonderful demantoid garnet which is a lovey, light, bright green colour. We also have a beautiful hessonite (orangey brown colour) garnet.Of course there are other colours of garnets, as garnet is a family of gems taking in a variety of colours.
Have you seen the iridescence of the labradorite? This stone, from Labrador, is a member of the feldspar family and is a blue green base colour with some sheen making it appear very distinctive. Sometimes other colours show due to how the light reacts with the growth process of lamellar twinning. Once seen, never forgotten.
Another very distinctive, very Canadian gem is Ammolite. Only found in Alberta this gem is a fossilised ancient sea creature -the ammonite. The extraordinary combination of blue green and red with sometimes sighting of orange and purple colours in this gem, is a not to be forgotten, wonderful mix of nature. However, because of its fragile growth property, it needs to have a clear Spinel or Sapphire cap put on it to preserve it for jewellery purposes.
Canada ,also produces blue sapphires in Baffin Island, nephrite jade and opal in British Columbia and Amethyst in Ontario. There are a lot more gems and minerals in Canada. Not always of a quantity to make big scale mining viable but enough for you to have fun looking and collecting if you are of that personality. Is it time for you to learn about gems in Canada? I hope so! There are so many more to learn about that are found in Canada!
I hope this has whet your appetite to find out more about the gems in Canada and also about the abundance that Canada has to offer. Canada is a huge diverse country with lots of wonderful natural beauty still left to explore.
Have a wonderful month of July.