Vancouver Police On the Lookout for Stolen Ammolite Specimen Worth $500,000; Huge Gemstone Is a Canadian National Treasure


December 26th, 2013
Vancouver police are asking for the public’s help in recovering a Canadian national treasure — a huge, helmet-shaped ammolite rarity that was stolen from a storefront window on Friday morning.

About the size of a man’s shoe and valued at $500,000, the one-of-a-kind ammolite is unique because of its huge size and display of seven distinctive colors.

Vancouver police spokesman Sergeant Randy Fincham explained that a burglar busted through the front window of a Vancouver jewelry shop before store hours to get access to the ammolite, but took no other items. He asked gem collectors to contact his department if they had any information about the distinctive specimen.

"Obviously it has a limited retail value because it's fairly distinct, so it would be [someone like a] collector possibly that would look at purchasing something like this, as it is such as unique item," he said in a press conference.

Jewelry and image by Korite International.

Ammolite is formed from the fossilized shell of an ammonite, an extinct giant marine mollusk that flourished 17 million years ago in what is now Alberta, Canada. The mineral composition of ammolite is similar to that of a pearl, and the iridescent, multicolor presentation is reminiscent of a fine opal.

Although ammonite fossils can be found around the world, ammolite has only been found in one place, the Bearpaw geological formation in southern Alberta, making it one of the rarest gemstones, according to the American Gem Trade Association.

Photograph by Gregory Phillips, February 2005.

Ammolite is one of the few biogenic gemstones, which means it is made by living organisms. Others include amber and pearl. Ammolite was given gemstone status by the World Jewellery Confederation in 1981 and was named the official gemstone of the Province of Alberta in 1984.

It is also ranked as a Canadian national treasure, a status which demands that specimens be registered before they can be removed from the country, according to The Canadian Press.

The quality of ammolite is determined by three key criteria: the number of primary colors seen in the stone; the way the colors “play,” or shift, when viewed from different angles; and the brightness of the colors. Ammolite dealers use a letter grading system to express a stone’s overall quality, from AA to B.
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