Susan Wheeler’s little ammolite necklace will keep rainbows close no matter the weather forecast. The Chicago-based designer debuted it at JCK Las Vegas this year, and in honor of the recent SCOTUS decision—and the fact that Wheeler recently had the piece professionally photographed—I’m thrilled to be able to feature its rainbowesque beauty here.
Ammolite is a fossilized ammonite shell found in southern Alberta, Canada. Dubbed a “fashionable fossil” by GIA, its appearance is somewhat scaly underneath its brilliant display of color. Because it’s soft—3.5 on the Mohs’ scale—the material is almost always backed by shale, black onyx, or glass to form doublets. “Sometimes a top layer of synthetic spinel or quartz is added to form a triplet,” reveals GIA.
Wheeler found this piece and a few others during the Tucson gem shows this year. (In fact, she bought it right before she had to dash to catch her plane home!) “I had been wanting to use ammolite for so long, and I found a good company that sells it,” she explains. She fell for this 13 mm by 9 mm piece for its organic shape, and because it reminded her of a rainbow ring given to her by her father in 1980s. She set the gem-quality triplet made with spinel and slate into an 18k recycled gold pendant with her signature organic texturing and enhanced the rainbow story with more gems—2.5 mm full-cut amethyst, blue sapphire, tsavorite, yellow sapphire, tangerine garnet, and ruby. Expect rings and earrings to follow.
This particular number had plenty of admirers at the show, including one of the most coveted accounts in Texas, but it is still for sale. The retail price is $3,330.
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