Fossils in the Jewelry Business

Fossils are not your everyday gem material, but they can have a place in your store. From small tablets set into pendants to tabletop accessories—even table tops themselves—fossils can make a statement.

Maison Sijilmassa, located in New York City, imports fossilized prehistoric marine life—orthoceras and ammonites—visible throughout various colored marbles: Hezhra (medium gray), Kajal (black), Sijilmassa (brown), Bordeaux (red) and Charcoal (dark gray). Fossil marbles are quarried from what Sijilmassa describes as an ancient Mediterranean seabed. Within each colored marble, orthoceras—which means “straight horn”—appear as spaceship-like elongated cylindrical spears. Ammonites are nautilus-shaped spirals.

Ancient sea life. Orthoceras and ammonites are prehistoric marine organisms that existed in ancient seas between the Silurian Period (approximately 435 million years ago) and the Jurassic period (65 million years ago). These prehistoric marine life forms were members of the cephalopod class, making them ancestors of present-day squid, octopus, nautilus, and cuttlefish. Ammonites could grow as large as 6 feet across and only three-quarters of an inch in diameter.

As orthoceras and ammonites died, their shells accumulated on the sea floor and were aligned by the currents, buried in sediment, and fossilized. Because ammonites and orthoceras lived exclusively in marine environments, their presence indicates the location of prehistoric seas. They also are important index fossils, because their presence in a rock layer often links that layer to specific geological time periods.

Something old, something new. Like big slabs of labradorite, the physical and mechanical properties of fossil marbles also make the stone appropriate for interior and exterior design, building, remodeling, and renovation projects, as well as smaller items such as tabletops and even dinnerware.

Paleo Facts, located in Fallbrook, Calif., also supplies fossilized marine life in tabletops, large and small, as well as in other objets d’art from Northern African, Mexican, and South American fossil deposits.

Both Paleo Facts and Maison Sijilmassa have Web sites with more information regarding the use of fossils in jewelry and tabletop items. For a closer look, log onto www.maisonsijilmassa.com and www.paleofacts.com, or call (718) 972-1117 and (760) 731-0703.