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Sellers of Black Hills Gold, Southwestern, and Contermporary Jewelry

Jewelry & Gems:  Facts & Folklore

Turquoise | Coral | Pink Mussel Shell | Black Onyx | Black Hills Gold | Garnet | Amethyst

Kokopelli | Paua Shell | Hematite | Malachite |Mt. St. Helens | Mystic Fire | Lapis | Tanzanite


turquoiseTURQUOISE is a popular gemstone used in all segments of the jewelry-buying public. Most of our turquoise is from the Tunnel mine on the Arizona-Mexico border. Black lines, called matrices, are common and a normal characteristic of turquoise. Variations in color range from a deep, dark blue to a greenish tint. Native Americans used turquoise as currency in the 16th century, and the stone is still associated with the religious rites of many American Indian tribes. They believed turquoise possessed magical and healing powers. The stone ranges from soft/somewhat porous to hard. Turquoise is compact and wears well. It is used in its natural state, or it may be treated to enhance its color and/or hardness.


coral CORAL, produced by tiny marine animals, is usually obtained from the Mediterranean Sea. Coral is available in a variety of colors; Jax & Company carries the pink and red. Native Americans have prized this gem for over 4 centuries. Red coral, sometimes called “precious coral,” was believed to change color according to one’s health, but only if the stone was not fashioned by man. Strings of coral were considered a gift of royal proportion in parts of Africa; the ancient Romans touted its curative powers.


pink mussel PINK MUSSEL SHELL comes from an actual shell. Throughout history, shells have been used in jewelry, carvings, buttons, and inlaid handles. Pink mussel shell varies in color from a light, almost white shade, to a rich, medium pink.



black onyxBLACK ONYX is a member of the chalcedony family (a form of quartz), and is generally artificially blackened to enhance its color. It is ideal for carving, engraving, fashioning into beads, and decorating pottery. Popular worldwide, it is the most common of all gems. Early man believed black onyx cured insomnia, bred prudence and caution, and brought its owner strength and victory in battle. A versatile and durable stone, onyx was also used to make tools.


black hills goldBLACK HILLS GOLD carries with it a delightful legend. A French goldsmith named Henri LeBeau became lost during the “gold rush days” of the middle 1870′s, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. He fell asleep, believing he was dying of starvation and thirst. During a dream, he saw a mountain stream with grape vines growing on its banks. Upon awakening, he walked over a rise and found the stream and grape vines, just as he had seen in his dream. In gratitude, he decided to devote his talents as a goldsmith to creating jewelry in the shapes of grape clusters and leaves fashioned in rose, green and yellow gold. Today, a series of up to 40 different steps are necessary to capture the same dramatic detail in our traditional and contemporary Black Hills Gold designs. While many of our customers might believe that the name “Black Hills Gold” denotes a certain type of mined gold, it actually refers to the design of the jewelry. Based on the legend, Black Hills Gold features leaves, grape clusters and vines in a tri-color motif of green, rose and yellow gold. The distinctive green and rose golds are created by adding silver and copper alloys to yellow gold. By federal mandate, this style of jewelry must be manufactured in the Black Hills of South Dakota in order to carry the name “Black Hills Gold Jewelry.”

  • Black Hills Gold is 10K gold.
  • Leaf Accents are 12K gold.
  • Grape Accents are 10K gold.
  • Earring posts, clutches, leverbacks, and hooks are 14K gold unless otherwise noted.

garnet GARNET consists of a group of minerals available in a variety of colors. Again, this gem existed in ancient times dating back to thousands of years BC. The Victorian era boosted the extensive use of red garnet in jewelry which, at the time, was mined in Bohemia. It is suitable for any type of jewelry, and is believed to have curative powers – especially against fever. Wearers would be protected in their travels, and be kept in good health.


amethyst AMETHYST This most highly prized quartz variety ranges from lilac (pale) to a royal purple. Its name derives from the Greek word meaning “not drunken.” In ancient times, it was believed that the wearer could never become intoxicated. Due to its high regard, it was used in the breastplate of the high priest of Israel, and in the foundation walls of Jerusalem. To date, there are still a few amethyst gems that adorn the royal British crown.


Kokopelli KOKOPELLI’S legend is quite diverse and entertaining. One story depicts Kokopelli as an ancient Hopi itinerant trader – a traveling salesman of sorts – who played his flute from a distance to alert the tribe of his approach. He was also known to have been quite the womanizer, bringing gifts of seed, blankets and other surprises to the women of the village, in exchange for amorous favors. He is also known in some tribal histories as the god of fertility; his hunchback appearance representing a sack he always carried, full of wonderful gifts to enhance the reproductive abilities of the tribal women.


paua shell Paua Shell: Paua shells are native to New Zealand. They come in various colors and hues from green to blue to pink to purple to golden. Believers wear paua shell jewelry both because of its beauty, and the emotional and physical benefits it brings to the wearer. Paua strengthens the body as well as the heart. Paua also brings sensitivity, harmony and connectivity to relationships.


hematite Hematite, or “Alaskan Black Diamond,” is a metallic grey mineral with a long history of medicinal use. The ancients dissolved hematite in egg whites to treat tumors on the eyelids. It was also mixed with oil and administered as a cure for blood diseases. Known more for its lustre and shiny, smooth appearance than for its folklore, hematite is an extraordinary addition to any piece of jewelry.


malachite Malachite comes from copper ore, thus exuding a green appearance. Its origin dates back to ancient Egypt, and, as with several other precious stones, was believed to possess magical powers. It has been found in Zaire, France, England, Rhodesia, New Mexico, and Arizona. It is rare and highly esteemed by mineral collectors. Malachite is used for making beads, carved figurines, and cabochons (cut stones). However, larger quantities have been used in certain palace walls and buildings in Russia.


Mt St Helens Mt. St. Helens is officially known as emerald obsidianite. This gorgeous lab-created stone is made from the ashes of Mount St. Helens as a result of the 1980 eruption. Salvage crews were using torches to cut up construction machinery covered with volcanic ash. The application of heat to the ash resulted in an emerald green obsidian-like substance. It was soon discovered that by adding/subtracting trace elements, other colors could be created such as pink and indigo. Due to its limited availability, Mt. St. Helens stones are in high demand worldwide.


Mystic Fire Mystic Fire" is a white topaz stone that has been colorized. The result is a deep, rich rainbow effect. Perhaps an apt description would involve imagining a fresh drop of motor oil on concrete with the sun striking it just right. Mystic Fire is a rising star in the arena of gemstone jewelry. Men and women alike are drawn to it partly because of its earthy translucence.


lapis Lapis is a beautiful opaque stone ranging in color from a deep blue to denim. Lapis can be made of several minerals besides lazurite, namely sodalite, hauyne, calcite (white streaks) and pyrite (metallic streaks or flecks). Stones that are deep blue with small patches of pyrite and calcite are considered the most valuable. The ancients believed that divine favor and success came to those wearing lapis. It was largely reserved for royalty. Claims to origins of lapis range from Afghanistan and ancient Babylon to Peru and the Inca civilization. Regardless, those who wore lapis claimed that "power amulets" were formed when this beautiful stone was shaped into the form of an eye and ornamented with gold.


tanzanite No gemstone discovered in East Africa has had more of an impact on the world gemstone market than tanzanite, a velvety blue variety of the mineral zoisite that was found for the first time in 1967 and named after the country of its birth by Tiffany & Co. in New York, who introduced the gemstone to the world market in 1969. Possessing rich purples and blues comparable to the finest sapphire, tanzanite is supremely rare, coming from only one place in the world: the Merelani Hills of Tanzania, in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro.