Care & Inspiration

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General Maintenance

Please note that we cannot be held liable for any damage that is caused to a bag after a cream or oil has been applied by yourself, and we cannot refund or exchange a bag that has had such a treatment applied.

We want you to love your Dare By Arlete leather satchel, messenger bag or leather travel bag (coming soon). So to keep it looking its best here are some suggestions and recommendations.

All our leather products are handmade and your new leather bag may be subject to a natural variation in size and colour.
The leather will naturally soften as you use it. Avoid getting your bag wet and keep it in a cool dry place. Should it get very wet simply dry it in a warm room – but do not place the bag directly onto a source of heat like a radiator as that may cause it to crack.
Leather will need feeding from time to time. Arlete recommends the use of a neutral shoe cream sparingly applied with a shoe brush. The leather will tell you when this is necessary (it will appear dry). Also the surface marking that appears in leather from daily use is often very superficial and is a result of the displacement of the oils in the leather. This can be remedied in the same way but be very sparing with the shoe cream and use brisk strokes with the brush, or you could try rubbing the mark with the ball of your thumb. For day to day maintenance a dab of sunflower/vegetable oil, on a dry, clean sponge or cloth rubbed over the bag evenly will work to re-oil the leather and also protects the leather from cracking as well as sealing the leather for mild weather resistance. This will also help if you have got small water marks on the leather.
For scratches and marks: Small scratches can be removed by rubbing them gently with your finger, as the natural oils on your hands will work into the leather. For larger scratches and marks apply a tiny amount of oil to the mark, let it soak in for a few minutes and then wipe the excess away with a clean soft cloth. It may make the leather initially appear darker but this is just because the oil is soaking in.

 Waterproofing

Your Dare By Arlete bag should be able to withstand an occasional rain shower and ordinary wear and tear but is not waterproofed. To further protect your bag you can waterproof your bag yourself. We suggest G-Max Universal Footwear Proofer it works wonderfully well and waterproofs the bag very effectively. Its really easy to apply! This will give your bag a slightly darker tone; however it will look beautifully conditioned. Follow the instructions carefully though and ensure you apply to damp leather.
Another product that works is Scotchgard Protector Cream – Nourishment For Leather – Colourless. You can apply this on your Dare By Arlete bag and it will give it a dark tone (as G-Max does), however once dry it will only be a few shades darker than the original colour. You can purchase Scotchgard or G-Max anywhere online.

 Odour

Your new bag may give off a leather odour, which is not unusual for a natural leather product. If you find it a little overpowering we suggest putting a sachet of nice smelling lavender, natural oils (pine, Mandarin,…) etc into the bag. If you are using the essence oils don’t apply this to the bag, you can put a few drops in a little cloth fill the bag with newspaper (with the cloth in the middle). You should leave this in the bag for a few days and that should help. Bear in mind that this bags were made in Morocco where there is no humidity, so it is normal with more humid conditions for the bag to have an odour, but if you use the above tips it should not be a problem.

Dare By Arlete Fair-Trade Policy

At Dare By Arelete we take great pride in working with producers and suppliers in traditional artisan and craft based industries that use traditional materials, methods and skills. All our suppliers are small-scale producers and family-run businesses; this is particularly the case for all our leather bags. We aim to develop long-term relationships with our artisans and continuity is important to us. Dare By Arlete trades fairly with all our suppliers and we have developed our own ethical buying and trading policy, which follows those of many British fair trade organisations.

In addition, our buying team make regular trips to visit all our suppliers and producers to ensure the ethical standards we set ourselves are being met. We ensure staff is all well looked after and earn above average wages for the industry and ensure no children are employed.

Dare By Arlete:

 

  • Buys most of its goods and materials from traditional small-scale producers, craft based families and communities.
  • Communicates and is transparent with its overseas suppliers in order to create greater equity. By doing so we help to maximise the income generated by local producers.
  • Pays suppliers a fair price, agreed through discussion and participation, which improves their standard of living and their community. We pay at least a 75% advance for orders and pay promptly.
  • Develops long-term relationships with its suppliers and respects local production methods.
  • Undertakes product development with artisans/producers, which ensures more money goes to the local economies.
  • Promotes a safe and healthy working environment for producers.
  • Actively encourages sustainable development.
  • Ensures producers will be paid equally regardless of gender, race and caste; and that income should improve their standard of living.
  • Respects traditional seasonal working patterns and holidays.

 Leather ethical policy – nothing to hide 

Genuine leather is natural and possesses truly individual characteristics. Dare By Arlete uses Camel and Cow leather hides tanned using traditional Moroccan methods, which means more natural substances like tannins and dyes are used.  The leather is finished with hot waxes and oils to give it a unique finish. This allows the natural markings, scars, shade variation and other characteristics of leather to be enjoyed. Modern leather processing often involves the removal of the surface texture and the application of a ‘finish’ layer to give a more uniform appearance.

Parts from several Camel and Cow hides may be used to make a single Dare By Arlete leather bag. So there may be some variation in colour and the texture to the different parts of a bag, which will all create a wonderfully unique effect.

There may be significant variances in texture and shading, which is individual to each bag.

  • All natural marks are left fully exposed.
  • No two pieces are exactly the same.
  • Our bags may have dark lines and marks in the leather.
  • These features go to show the genuine origin of our leather bags, they form part of the bag and not affect its durability. With a little care leather will improve with age.
  • Like all our leather products, our leather bags are handmade and your new leather bag may be subject to natural variation in size and colour.

All this simply enhances the unique appearance of your bag and adds extra character. Think of your bag as an investment for the future. To be enjoyed for years to come. Your bag may give off a leather odour for a week or two, which is not unusual for a natural leather product. They all have a great look and feel, which adds to their character and appeal, so now you can have a vintage style leather bag without having to wait years.

Please bear in mind that each leather satchel and messenger bag is a totally natural product therefore the colours and the finish can vary from one piece to the next. If you are looking to order a leather bag to match a particular item of clothing or clothing accessory please contact us before ordering.

We’re confident your bag will last for years!!

Semi-Precious Gemstones – Qualities & Properties

Agate & Dzi

No gemstone is more creatively striped by nature than agate – technically, chalcedony quartz that forms in concentric layers in a wide variety of colours and textures. Each individual agate forms by filling a cavity in its host rock, resulting in round nodules, with bands like the rings of a tree trunk, looking like eyes.

Agate was highly valued as a talisman in ancient times and has been used as a traveller’s amulet for centuries.  It is believed to bring good fortune, health, wealth and long life.  As well as quenching thirst and preventing fevers, Persian magicians used agate to divert storms and athletes to increase vitality.  It’s also said to bring self-confidence by banishing fear.  Some call its strange patterns ‘cosmic caterpillar tracks’.  Others’ swear that wearing these beads can heighten the spiritual consciousness and balance the body’s physical and mental states.

Dzi is one of the most mysterious of all the beads known today.  These shiny Tibetan agate beads, patterned with mystical eyes are among the most treasured beads in the world. “Dzi” in Tibetan means:  “shine, brightness, clearness, and splendour.

Amethyst

Amethyst belongs to the quartz family and the purple colour is due to traces of iron. Coloured purple to lilac, and ranging from opaque to transparent, deriving from the Greek word “amethustos”, meaning without wine.  Amethyst is an especially powerful stone, a symbol of sincerity, security, and peace of mind.   It protects, reduces negativity and brings spirituality – hence the name “Pope Stone”.  The Christian crusaders attached it to their rosaries. Although some say amethyst is less powerful than fluorite, which also carries the purple ray, linked with the zodiac it can help psychic knowledge.  Healers of times gone by suggest this stone could help dream inspiration if placed under the pillow at night.  Legend even says drinking from an amethyst chalice will prevent intoxication, stone of divine love.

Aquamarine

From lightest sky-blue to the deep blue of the sea, aquamarines show all these shades of an exceptionally beautiful range of usually light blues. It is a truly fascinating stone. Women all over the world covet it because of its fine blue colour, which suits almost any complexion or eye-colour to perfection, and creative gemstone artists get their inspiration for new cuts more often from aquamarines than from other stones.
Its light blue arises feelings such as sympathy, trust, harmony or friendship. These are good feelings, which involve a partner or companion, and prove their vale in long-lasting relationships. Aquamarine blue is a divine and eternal colour, since it is, after all, the colour of the skies. Aquamarine blue, however, is also the colour of water with its life-giving properties. And in fact aquamarine seems to have managed to embody the light blue of the seas. This is not surprising, for according to legend it has its origin in the treasure chest of the legendary mermaids, and has for ages been reputed to be a lucky stone for sailors. Its name has been derived from the Latin terms “aqua¿ meaning water, and “mare or sea. Allegedly its powers develop best if the stone is immersed in sun-drenched water. However, it seems a wiser course to carry it, because according to ancient traditions, carrying an aquamarine is supposed to guarantee a happy marriage and to make its owner happy and rich.

Aventurine

Aventurine also belongs to the quartz family.  Although sometimes called “new jade”, aventurine often has inclusions (due to green fuchsite mica) which create a speckle, differing from genuine jadeite. Spiritualists believe aventurine has the ability to purify the spirit and bring balance to male and female energies, the capacity to calm and bring inner-peace makes aventurine a very important stone in the spiritual realm.  Green is the colour of healing – with aventurine the all-purpose healer.  Not only good for physical disorders, blockages and migraine, but also healing on all levels.

Amazonite, sometimes called Amazon Jade, is a similar stone to Aventurine.  Usually found in yellow-green to blue-green.  Some say Amazonite makes your married life happier.

 Carnelian

Another stone from the quartz family, usually bright orange to reddish orange, and is translucent to clear. Carnelian is for confidence.  Said to help blood disorders and eliminate toxins from the body.  Carnelian is in tune with the energies of the Earth, making you feel anchored and comfortable with your environment.  Allowing you to pause and reflect, while feeling settled and more secure.  Carnelian also stimulates energy that influences the reproductive organs; hence it’s long use as a fertility symbol.  It is said to stimulate creativity and have a clearing effect, replacing negative energy with positive. Making it easier to find direction and feel in control of your life. A good stone for people starting new projects or who feel they are going nowhere.  It motivates, allowing you to find the energy to make the most out of life.
Carnelian is best for people with the zodiac sign of Leo.

 Chalcedony

Chalcedony is a very fine-grained variety of quartz. It has a waxy lustre and appears in a great variety of colours — usually blue-white, buff, light tan, gray, yellow or brown. It has a compact fibrous structure and fine splintery fracture.
In the petrified forests of the American Desert Southwest, many of the original tree tissues have been replaced by chalcedony in the formation of petrified wood. What remains is a mineral replica of the original tree in various fantastic colours. The brilliant reds and greens are caused primarily by traces of iron oxides. Some of the best displays of petrified wood can be seen in eastern Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park.

In all ages many varieties of chalcedony have been used as gems, and many colour varieties are still cut and polished as ornamental stones. Unless it is intricately carved or featured, Chalcedony is valued much less than it once was. It is said that chalcedony was used as a sacred stone by the Native Americas, promoting stability within the ceremonial activities of the tribe. Chalcedony is said to augment emotional balance, vitality, stamina, endurance, kindness, charity and friendliness. It supposedly alleviates hostilities, irritability and melancholy.

 Citrine

”Citrine” comes from the French word for lemon, and is any quartz crystal or cluster that’s yellow to orange.  The darker, orange colours were traditionally the best, but today people prefer bright lemony shades to mix with pastel colours.  Citrine with man-made colour tends to have more of an orange or reddish caste.  Most natural citrine starts life as amethyst until heated in a molten state to change.  Citrine brightens all jewellery, blending especially well with the yellow gleam of polished gold.  The yellow colour is a natural reviver, and citrine focuses the mind bringing a feeling of self-esteem.  In medication it helps re-establish the link between your conscious and subconscious minds.  If you are feeling down, try holding citrine to lift your spirit.  It’s also very good at healing the body and helping people communicate.  Citrine has warm energy, promotes optimism, and attracts abundance.   Citrine is one of the few stones that removes negative energy and never requires cleansing.   In ancient times it was carried as a protection against snake venom and evil thoughts.  Known as a “merchants’ stone”, placed in the cash register to not only acquire wealth but to maintain it as well.  Citrine is the birthstone for November, and its corresponding signs are Gemini, Aries, Libra, and Leo.

Coisonne 

Cloisonné is decorative enamelwork in which metal filaments are fused to the surface outlining a design filled in with enamel paste.  Cloisonné enamelware dates back over 500 years in China, being especially popular during part of the Ming Dynasty (mid 15th-centure). Owing to its brilliant colours and designs, cloisonné has been highly appraised around the world.  Hand crafted by an elaborate and complicated process of hammering, soldering, enamel-filling, enamel firing, polishing and gilding.  Cloisonné beads are no different in this process, and their energies are similar to those of flaked stone.

Coral

Coral is not a true gemstone, but a product of marine life.  However, it’s been used as a gem since prehistoric times.  Coral was long thought to be a strong talisman against evil spirits and hurricanes.  It is also said to reduce blood flow, helping anaemia, and is thought to give wisdom and prevent madness.

Its colour ranges from white to red, but most red coral these days is dyed. It grows in branches that look like underwater trees.  Most people think of coral on the coral reefs in the South Pacific like the Great Barrier Reef.  However, these reefs are formed by a different species than the coral traditionally used in jewellery.  Most of this coral is found in the Mediterranean Sea or in the Pacific off Japan and Taiwan.

Flaked Stone/Goldstone

The most common flaked stone is goldstone, a man-made stone, first created by alchemists trying to make gold.  Other variations are bluestone, lemon stone, and peach stone.  Each are a type of glass mixed with metals to form a glittery appearance. However, all material has properties – these are transmitter stones.  Causing light to pass through you in order to convey or receive a medium.  Revitalizing, energizing, and encouraging a positive attitude and individualism.  As well as calming, refreshing, and is said to protect the centre of the body reducing stomach tension.

Fluorite

The mineral fluorite is famous for its glassy lustre and wide range of colours – from purple, blue, green, yellow, colourless, brown, pink, black and reddish orange, named after the Latin word “To flow”.  Fluorite brings perceptiveness, peace and calm to a troubled mind.  It’s particularly useful in medication, because holding even a small piece in the hand brings a sense of inner peace.   Those who choose this stone are likely to be artistic and creative, being able to earn money from their talent – as well as self-critical with a fear of failure. Fluorite is considered to be the most powerful healing stone, especially for strengthening the bone tissue.  Fluorite has been excavated from the ruins of Pompeii, but despite being a favourite with ancient civilizations, has been recently overlooked.

Garnet

Garnet is the name of at least ten similar mineral species – with many “garnets” being a combination of these minerals.  All are quite sturdy and resistant to everyday wear and tear because of their excellent hardness of over 7 on the Mohs’ scale. Garnet, the January birthstone, derived its name from the Latin word granatus, meaning like a grain – referring to how their crystals resemble seeds embedded in the matrix. Garnet comes in many colours, but a reddish brown is the most common.

The use of garnets as a gemstone can be traced to prehistoric times.  Noah is recorded using a garnet lantern to steer his Ark through the darkness of the night. Garnets are found in jewellery from ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman eras. Travellers wore garnets as they were considered talismans and protective stones, because it was believed garnets illuminate the night and wore off evil.  Its said to remove nightmares and depression. Today science says the proverbial luminosity of garnet is caused by its high refraction.

Gaspeite

This is a relatively rare mineral that is only found in a few locations, and a fairly new discovery found in 1966. It’s almost apple green in colour, and some verities are even neon green in colour – it can also have brownish patches that can give it a really distinctive character. Although a similar colour to turquoise, Gaspeite is a nickel carbonate.  Gaspeite is a little softer than turquoise, and should be treated with at least as much care. It is found around nickel sulfide deposits, and gets its name from the locality of Gaspe Peninsula, Quebec, in Canada, where it was originally found.  It is also mined in Western Australia – the best from North of Perth, Australia. Gaspeite was used by Aborigine’s to bring good fortune, visions and grant success. It is known to reduce stress and help with gallbladder, lung and heart problems. It’s also thought that Gaspeite brings spirituality into everyday life. It awakens illusions, attracts friendship, and removes the veil between distress and ignorance and aids assurance. Gaspeite also helps to reduce emotional ignorance, helps to prevent loss and is related to the heart chakra.

Hematite

Hematite is one of the most common minerals, being the principle ore of iron.  The colour of most red rock, like sandstone, is caused by small amounts of hematite.Although usually black in jewellery, it may also be responsible for the red colour of garnet and ruby.  All non-crystalline forms of hematite are transformations of the mineral Limonite that lost water, possibly due to heat. Hence the recent excitement of the discovery of grey hematite on the planet Mars – suggesting there was once water present.  Only well formed hematite crystals are cut and polished into cabochons for jewellery, beads, and ornaments. Hematite is a protective stone and its energies help you connect with the Earth and its benefits.  Use this stone during meditation to escape the illusionary chains of physical reality and become more connected to your true, spirit self – it’s been used as an aid to astral projection.  It also bolsters low self-esteem, making you feel more comfortable and better about yourself.  Its grounding and soothing energies can help you relax and unwind both physically and mentally.  Hematite is said to be closely tied to the blood due to its iron content.  Believed to aid the kidneys, speed tissue regeneration, and contribute to improving the blood, and so the overall health of your entire body. Hematite is a good choice for those born under the zodiac sign of Virgo.

Howlite

Howlite, named after its discoverer Henry How (a Nova Scotia geologist), is one of those minerals that is more famous for imitating another stone, turquoise.  Howlite is always white or gray, but is commonly dyed blue.  However, dyed howlite is an affordable substitute for turquoise carvings and beads. It accepts a nice polish and its lustre is attractive, enhancing even undyed beads. Howlite is formed in nodules that appear like the heads of cauliflower. Veins of black web-like streaks often are interlaced, adding to the character. Howlite has similar benefits to turquoise – used for creativity, calming, and reducing anxiety and tension.  It also encourages emotional expression, subtlety and tact, lessoning rudeness.  As well as helping to eliminate pain, stress and rage.   A simple and gentle stone that aids sleep and helps to bring back wisdom from the dream state, assisting in loosening and dispersing muscular tension.

Jade

For 5,000 years Imperial China used the word “jade” as something precious.  Jade is said to have all the attributes most valued in society.  A symbol of purity and serenity, it is delicate, but will not break – is beautiful, but not impermanent, it can be flawed with lines, but still pleasing. It is believed to radiate divine unconditional love and balance the emotions.  Held in the hand it can improve judgment – ancient silk traders often held jade while bartering.  A small piece of jade worn around the neck was said to dispel illness. Chinese jade first arrived in the West during the sixteenth century, brought from Canton by the Portuguese.  Today jade continues to be a symbol of love, virtue, and status, with Chinese carvings reaching the highest value.  The best jade has a waxy, pearly appearance.  Feeling cool and so smooth, it seems soft to the touch.  Yet hard enough that pressure from a sharp knife will not leave a mark. The most famous type of jade carved in China is from Burma, with shades of green, lavender, yellow, white and grey.  These colours form over millions of years from minerals in the rock.   Every piece of jade has a secret meaning.  Discovering that meaning and the legends behind it is a very satisfying for those who practice this dying art.

Jasper

Jasper is a crystalline variety of quartz that contains up to 20% foreign material.  This is what determines the stone’s multicolour, striped, or spotted appearance.   Jasper was highly valued in ancient times, not only for its beauty, but also for the reputed magical and medicinal properties.  In France jasper ornaments date back Two-millennia, Babylonians used in for seals twelve-hundred years ago, and in India it has been used for jewellery and building for centuries. Jasper is known as the “Patron stone of counsellors and healers”.  Being very healing and balancing, it was used for many different medications – like grinding into a powder to treat gall bladder and kidney disease.  Ancient people used jasper to relieve pain, especially childbirth.  Jasper is reported to sooth the nerves and to treat the kidneys, spleen, bladder, liver and stomach.Red jasper is an intensely protective stone, stabilizing the aura and bringing contentment – even said to assist astral travel during meditation.  Poppy jasper is dark red with black flecks and thought to heal allergies to animals.  Picture jasper is pale brown with darker patterns – named from pictures formed by patterns caused by trapped fossilizes algae.  Picture jasper helps to evaluate life’s issues and develop business pursuits leading to increase.  Fancy jasper is creamy brown with lavender or green swirls.  Believed to clear the mind, bring tranquillity and eliminate worry and depression.  And green jasper is thought to be lucky in monetary trades.

Jet

Jet is a soft, opaque black gemstone, easily identified because it is very, very lightweight. Jet is composed of carbonized wood. The material was first found near the River Gages and mentioned by Pliny in Ancient Greece. Jet is rather difficult to find today, but there is quite a lot in China.
Jet has been used since the Bronze Age as an ornamental stone. The Hopi and other tribes of the western United States used jet in making fetishes, beads, and inlaid jewellery. Jet reached its zenith in popularity during the reign of Queen Victoria, who wore black jet jewellery while in mourning for her late husband, Prince Albert.

Lampwork

The “lamp” in lamp work came from the oil lamps and blowpipes originally used in seventeenth century France and Italy. Blowing by mouth or bellows into an oil lamp flame with a small pipe makes just enough heat to soften and form this type of glass.  It’s amazing the great work the early lamp workers were able to do with so little equipment. Hot glass working skills came to us from a long history starting with the Syrians around 1700 BC, the Egyptians around 1450 BC, the Chinese around 550 BC, the Romans at the turn of the first millennium, and with the French, German, Italian, Indian and Islamic folks bringing us up to the present day.  When lampworking is usually practiced using an oxygen torch and a few hand tools.  But the technique used to form and decorate the glass hasn’t changed much in millenniums.

Lapis Azuli

Lapis Azuli is gemstone straight out of fairy tales of the Arabian Nights: deepest blue with golden shining Pyrite inclusions which twinkle like little stars.   Named after “lapis“, the Latin word for stone, and the Arabian for blue.  Thousands of years before Christ, Egyptian and Persian royalty wore lapis as a talisman to deter danger.  In other cultures it was worshipped as a holy stone and thought to have magical power in oriental countries.  Many believe the Biblical sapphire was actually lapis lazuli. Through the ages, lapis has been associated with power, wisdom, love, and a stimulant for psychic ability.  And in the art world it’s famous for the ultramarine blue paint used by the Grand Old Masters, like on portraits of the Virgin Mary. While other compositions have long since paled, lapis has lost nothing of its brilliance. Lapis is still mined in the remote mountains of Afghanistan, the best stones being deep and intensive blue with finely distributed golden crystals.  The twinkling inclusions are not gold but pyrite, caused by iron.  The blue colour comes from the sulphuric content of lazurite, and looks dull until polished.   Lapis is a soft stone that should be treated gently while polishing.  Unpolished, the dark blue looks dull with golden inclusions and whitish veins from marble. However, a Lapis which has dulled after being worn too often is easily polished, and jewellery is often surface sealed with wax or resin. For many people lapis is a stone of truth and friendship. Bringing harmony to relationships and helping its wearer openly state their individual opinion.  While aiding inner vision, wisdom, insight and good judgment.  It’s also said to be good for treating thyroid problems and helping to get in touch with our inner selves, a very powerful gemstone that should not be worn by those who lack strength of character.

Malachite & Rhodonite

Malachite is green with irregular black banding. Its green stripes have the ability to soothe and bring rest – helping sleep, meditation, the circulation and balancing emotions.  The copper content helps rheumatism.  It’s also the guardian stone of travelers who wear it to warn of danger.  The magic of malachite is also thought to attract love and wealth and change energies in your life and environment.  Some say malachite travels the world in search of energies to change.  If your life is in a rut, try wearing malachite – but beware of unstoppable change.   Malachite is especially fragile, so guard against scratches.  Washing malachite in water will remove its protective polish. Rhodonite is usually pink to red or orange, but can also be black – named after the Greek word for rose, “rhodon”.  Its beautiful pink colour often has black manganese oxide veins running through it, creating a distinct appearance, popular in 18th-century Russia where it was used extensively to decorate the Russian court.  Rhodonite has similar properties to malachite – stabilizing the emotions, soothing and bringing order to feelings.  Its steady uplift gradually makes your emotional foundation more solid and secure – allowing body and emotions to harmonize and respond to life’s situations.

Mookaite

Mookaite is the name given to a silicified porcelain which forms over much of the Carnarvon Basin in Western Australia. An Australian aboriginal healing stone that bestows strength. It helps heal wounds and regeneration. Useful in stabilizing health and in fortifying the immune system, Mookaite also purifies the blood in the liver and the spleen and can help with the glands in general, the stomach, water retention and with hernias.

Mookaite encourages within us, the desire for variety and new experiences. It makes thoughts more flexible and enhances decision making. It also helps us to recognize that there could be several possibilities for the outcome of any issue, and helps choose the best solution to that issue. It also embraces and celebrates new circumstances and helps us when dealing with negative situations. Mookaite helps us to be kind to others, and also, quite importantly, helps us to be kind to ourselves too. It is a very protective stone, and is particularly good as an emotional protector.

Microscopic examination of Mookaite has revealed that it is a somewhat unique rock. Consisting largely of microscopic organisms known as Radiolarians, with an unusual skeletal structure made up of opaline silica. Billions of these were deposited as sediment near shores of ancient seas, together with remains of other sea creatures. When the seas retreated, these sediments were cemented into solid rock by silica, carried in groundwater, either from the radiolarian themselves or from weathered rocks nearby.

Moonstone

Moonstone is translucent, and softens the light shining through it to give a pearly moon-like glow.  This distinctive shimmering affect called adularescence, is caused by the way the stone reflects light.   Moonstone comes in colourless, white, grey, and subtle yellow or peach, but always has a blue or white sheen. Rainbow moonstone is colourless with a blue sheen and a rainbow-like array of colours – a very attractive semi-precious stone. Moonstone is thought to grow stronger or weaker with the moons cycle.  During full-moon it’s a very powerful stone for the reconciling of love, and as the moon decreases, is said to allow person to foretell the future.  In India it’s sacred for lovers.  A feminine stone for the inner-child, female issues and nurturing – but also used by men who want to reach their female side and to understand dreams.  Moonstone brings confidence and calms the emotions, easing an understanding of spirituality, intuition, and clairvoyance.  Also known to protect against fever, dropsy, fluid-retention and urinary problems.

Obsidian

Obsidian is natural glass formed by rapid cooling of volcanic lava. Is usually black, shiny and hard, also grey, brown or with white flecks.  When fractured it leaves sharp edges, hence its use since the stone-age as a cutting tool and for weapons. Snowflake obsidian is caused by inclusions of small, white, crystals of silica in the black glass producing a blotchy snowflake pattern.  Sheen or Rainbow Obsidian is caused by small bubbles of air trapped in the molten rock just before being cooled. Obsidian is a nurturing stone that can help you to accept the changes that are a part of everyone’s live.  Its energy has grounding, stabilizing influence, and can help dispel negative energy.  But for healing, it’s recommend to balance obsidian with a lighter crystal, like smoky quart.  Also used to improve vision, relieve digestive problems, and clear the mind.  And is sometimes gazed into like a crystal ball, to obtain images and help find inner spiritual vision.

Onyx

Onyx is a term used for several stones. It has been dyed since ancient time, with the popular pure black variety, being dyed microcrystalline quartz.  Its natural color is usually brown, white or grey.  And onyx used in architecture isn’t a form of quartz at all, but a type of limestone marble.  Onyx is very similar to agate.  With straight bands of brown, white or black, where agate has curved bands of many colours. Although regarded as protective, onyx has a reputation as a stone of discord.  Onyx was worn to cool the ardours of love, probably because it helps to balance the mind and emotions. Not only avoided by lovers, but also at night, as it provoked nightmares.  However, it does improve concentration and devotion, hence many onyx rosaries.  Onyx is a strength-giving stone, aiding confidence and useful for athletes or people under stress.  Its energy is a mental tonic and can help you cope with fears and worries, making you feel in harmony with your surroundings.

Opal

All of Nature’s fury can be seen in fine opal. Like a Rembrandt: fire, lightning, all the colors of the rainbow and the shine of far seas. Australia supplies about 95% of the world’s opal from the outback. Aborigines there believe their creator came on a rainbow to bring the message of peace – at the spot where he touched the ground, opal was born!  The name Opal could have came from many places. In Greek “opallios”, translates as “colour change”, and to the ancient Romans “opalus”, was a stone from several elements.  Fine opals shine and sparkle in a continually changing play of colours called “opalising”. Most opal has this play of colours except “Common Opal”, a name give to all others, like Pink Opal. Because demand outstrips supply, fine opalizing opal is very expensive, so is sold in individual beads for hundreds of US dollars each. Therefore, the type of opal common in necklaces is non-opalizing opal – usually pink opal from Peru.

Opal’s fantasy-like play of colour is caused by small spheres of silica creating interference and refraction manifestations. The spheres, which are arranged in compact structures, dissect light through the gemstone, turning it into the rainbow effect, always new and different.

Pearl

The least expensive cultured pearls today rival the most expensive natural pearls ever found.  Natural freshwater pearls occur in mussels for the same reason saltwater pearls occur in oysters.  Foreign material inside a mussel can’t be expelled.  To reduce irritation, the mollusc coats the intruder with the same secretion it uses for shell-building, nacre.  To cultivate a pearl, farmers slit the mussel and insert small pieces of live tissue from another mussel. The ancient Chinese practiced this technique, but the first real cultured freshwater pearls originated in Japan.  In the 1930’s, Japanese farmers by Lake Biwa achieved natural colours unseen in saltwater pearls.  However, water pollution today has virtually destroyed pearl production there. China now has the resources that Japan lacks: many large lakes, rivers, and a low-cost work force.  The first Chinese cultured pearls were basic, until the 1990’s when China revolutionized pearling.  Shapes, lustre, and colours of the new Chinese pearls now surpass Biwa quality. Copying the Japanese to improve off-white and mottling, China uses a mild bleach, bright lights, and heat.  Natural freshwater pearls are usually odd shapes. So for more roundness, the Chinese now reshape rejected pearls into spheres, and then nucleate mussels with them. The best pearls have thick overlapping layers of nacre.  This can be tested by viewing its “lustre”.  Roll the pearl with a pen in good light – the best pearls will reflect the pen the most.  A large pearl is only more valuable if it’s the same quality as a smaller one – and the rounder the better.  Being an organic gem, grooves, pits, or dents are expected.  However, matching colour for a complete necklace is important.  Freshwater pearls are popular for their colours: white, silvery-white, pink, red, copper, brown, lavender, purple, green, blue, and yellow.  The most desirable are the pastel pinks, roses, lavenders, and purples.  Colour comes from the mussel species and water quality.  Generally pearls assume the colour of the shell in which they form, but permanent dyes are used today for most saturated colours.

Peridot

Peridot (pronounced pair-a-doe) is the gem variety of olivine, a mineral formed under intense heat.  Named from the French word “peritot” meaning unclear, due to its inclusions and cloudy nature.  Small crystals of peridot are often found in rocks by volcanoes and in meteors that fall to earth.  Because the iron which creates the colour is an integral part of its structure, its colour is always green  – ranging from transparent lime to olive green. Peridot has been mined as a gemstone for thousands of years, said to be the favourite gem of Cleopatra, and mentioned in the Bible.  In ancient Egypt it was mined at night because legend tells that peridot was hard to see during the day, yet easily visible by lamplight. The Greeks and Romans called peridot “topazion” and “topazius” – the later named topaz, to end the confusion between the two.  Peridot has also been confused with emerald and many jewellers refer to it as “evening emerald”.   Peridot was later used to decorate medieval churches, carried back to Europe by the Crusaders, like the huge stones of more than 200 carats in size at Cologne Cathedral. Peridot is recommended for insomnia, digestive problems and to stimulate the mind.  Some say peridot has the power to drive away evil spirits, intensified when the stone is set in gold.  And it’s also said to strengthen the power of any medicine drunk from peridot goblets.

Pietersite

Pietersite, a beautiful variety of Tiger Eye, has been an extremely rare gem for decades, mined only in Namibia until 1997. Limited production and the embargo on export of tigereye rough by South Africa have caused its price to rise dramatically. However, pietersite has since been discovered in Henan Province, China, where it is as beautiful, if not better than the gem from Africa. Chinese pietersite has an attractive golden color. Pietersite was first discovered by Sid Pieters in 1962, and is formed naturally from a combination of Hawk Eye and Tiger Eye.

Ruby Zoisite

Ruby Zoisite is a creative stone, its energy coming from the red and green colors. In the chakra system red relates to creativity and sexuality, and green is associated with healing, balancing, and abundance.
By itself, ruby is associated with passion. It can bring anger to the surface, and will amplify any emotion. Zoisite provides a natural medium for softening ruby’s qualities. Its green cools and stabilizes. This is very valuable when passion seems overwhelming, and ruby in zoisite is excellent for healing a broken heart and reducing obsessive feelings about another person. It can also be very helpful for creative energies. Often our ideas swirl around in our heads, never quite reaching realization. What is needed in such cases is some stabilizing energy, which zoisite provides. Ruby zoisite has become more popular. This may indication that more people are ready to have relationships which heal, not hurt, and to be more expressive of their innate creativity.

Quartz & Crystal

Quartz is the most common mineral on the Earth’s crust and is a component of almost every rock type. Yet, quartz has more colors and forms than any other stone because of this very abundance.  The powerful atomic structure of this pyramid-shaped crystal gives it magical powers that are as apparent in today’s computers as they are in new age belief and folklore. The Mayans, Druid priests, and Tibetan monks all knew the spiritual power of crystal.  The ancients used it to strengthen the sun’s rays to bring heat, and the Chinese science of Feng-shui teaches that arranging crystals around the home retains positive energy.  Crystals became important to these people because of the belief in their capacity to store and amplify any power source fed into them – physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.  Today’s crystal therapists say that the stones’ ability to work as a conductor allows energy to be focused via a person’s thoughts to stimulate healing.  And many people use crystal to focus attention on what they want.  With a little imagination, you too can use crystal’s energy to access a higher level of consciousness and turn a desire into reality. All types of crystal have this magical power, but individual color crystal is believed to have other uses too.  Rose quartz, the stone of unconditional love, is great for emotional healing.  Red, yellow, and orange stones are said to produce energy; clear and aquamarine stones are healers; and lavender and blue-violet are calming stones. Pure rock crystal is clear, but usually quart comes in a variety of opacity.  Milky quartz is cloudy because of microscopic inclusions of fluid embodied in the crystal at the start of its life.  Creating an attractive effect of a crystal within a crystal, giving the interior a ghostly appearance.  Smoky Quartz is caused by natural radiation from nearby granite rocks which have a small amount of radioactivity.

Sodalite & Unakite

Sodalite is a blue stone usually peppered with white calcite.  Especially valuable for those in mental confusion – it helps rationalize decisions and calms the emotions.  It also encourages self-expression, by uniting logical thought with the spirit and helping you realize that you don’t have to do things the way you always have.  And it’s been said that a piece of sodalite under the pillow can help you remember dreams. Unakite consists of pink feldspar mottled on green epidote and quartz.  Famous for finding the root cause of an illness – useful for conditions where the symptoms can’t otherwise be treated.  It works by allowing the gentle release of long-term energy blocks, leading to an emotionally calm state.  Also believed to stimulate the reproductive system, encourage pregnancy, and helping the healthy development of the baby in the womb. Some people even say Unakite can neutralize the harmful effects of electromagnetic radiation from television sets.

Tiger Eye & Cats Eye

Tiger’s-eye is polished to show  its characteristic band of pearly luminescence, resulting from light reflecting off its thin parallel inclusions in the quartz.  Colors range from a rich golden yellow to dark brown. Tiger’s-Eye is good for those worried about health as it’s said to guard against hypochondria.  It builds will-power and inner-strength, and has traditionally been used to heal wounds, eyes, and the lower legs and feet.  It’s also said to bring spiritual well-being and psychic protection – as well as attracting beauty and abundance. Similar stones are cat’s-eye and hawk’s-eye – all with bands of pearly luminescence creating a supernatural appearance.  Cat’s-eye can be yellowish-brown to green with a white band, and is said to bring wealth and pleasure from your children.  Hawk’s-eye has a blue radiance.  When a bright light source is directed at the side of the stone, one side of the eye will be milky white and the other remains colored.  When the stone is rotated, the colors switch.

Topaz

Topaz is a common gemstone that has been used for centuries in jewellery. Usually golden brown to yellow colour. The Egyptians said that topaz was coloured with the golden glow of the mighty sun god Ra. This made topaz a very powerful amulet that protected the faithful against harm. The Romans associated topaz with Jupiter, who also is the god of the sun. And Greek legend has it that topaz could make the wearer invisible and would change colour in the presence of poisoned food or drink. It is the birthstone of November.

Turquoise

Turquoise is a soft, opaque gemstone – formed by volcanic rock reacting to copper deposits brought by water.  Ranging from blue-green, to yellow-green with grey, black or brown veining.  Turquoise has been found in 5,000-year-old Egyptian tombs and the Tibetans used it as currency centuries ago.  North Africa and the Middle East hold large deposits, but most turquoise today originates from Burma and is carved in China.  Turquoise didn’t reach Europe until the crusades when the name originated, meaning “Turkish stone”.

Ancient doctors thought turquoise prevented injury in accidents and ground it into a powder to cure stomach disorders, internal bleeding, and insect bites. Turquoise has always been used to protect the wearer from danger, attract wealth, and warn as a talisman or good luck charm.   Some believe it will fade when danger or illness is near, or a lover is unfaithful.  It is also said to protect against pollution and strengthen the body.

Turquoise is porous, so contact with liquids, oils or even perspiration should be avoided.  Jewelry should be removed before washing. Turquoise is commonly impregnated with plastic, colorless oil or wax to improve color and increase durability. Untreated turquoise will eventually turn green. As genuine turquoise is expensive, reconstituted turquoise is made today.  Crafted from real turquoise chips fused with other stones to cut the cost.  Turquoise is the birthstone for the month of December.