In a recent presentation to the Illinois-Indiana Alumni Chapter of the Gemological Institute of America, author and GIA graduate gemologist, Renee Newman, discussed the increased popularity and use of “exotic” gemstones by many of today’s jewelry designers and artists.

But what makes a gemstone exotic? According to Newman, who surveyed a number of people from different backgrounds for her recent book, Exotic Gems Volume 2, the term has a variety of interpretations which go from “alluring, exquisite, and remarkable,” to “out of the ordinary,” and even to “burlesque!”

However you define the word, the exotic gemstones explored by Newman are definitely intriguing, gorgeous, and not well known. Among these stones is kyanite, a stone that is mined in several global locations including Nepal, Brazil and even North Carolina in the U.S.

Derived from the Greek kyanos, meaning “blue,” gem grade kyanite rivals the lovely blue hues of sapphire; although it is also found in green, yellow, orange, brown, gray, white or colorless. In contrast, industrial grade material is used in the production of spark-plugs, electrical insulators, abrasives, plumbing fixtures and even porcelain dishware. Its directional hardness can cause difficulties in cutting and setting which may account for its late entry into the jewelry market. Yet when properly set, kyanite is a remarkable and much lower-priced alternative to its precious look-alike!

Gem lore states that kyanite promotes tranquility and rejects negative energy. Sleeping with the stone will help solve dreams and make them more lucid. It’s an energetic bridge that encourages harmony and communication. Healers use it for pain relief, infections, weight reduction, and neurological trauma, as well as head, neck and throat ailments.

I discovered kyanite at a gem show about 8 years ago and fell in love! Since then I’ve used the stone in many of my own designs and paired it with sterling and 14K yellow gold filled as well as with high karat gold and palladium. Whatever medium it compliments, this gem is always a winner.  Be sure to check out the AAF designs that feature this exotic and unusual stone…and there’s more to come!