Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Aquamarine: Birthstone for March

The aquamarine is the blue or blue-green forms of the mineral Beryl. The word "aquamarine" comes from Latin for "sea water". It is usually heated to enhance the blue color.

There is a lot of legendary uses for the stone. It was the most appropriate gift for a wedding couple after their first night together. And said to enhance romance between couples. The Romans used it - specifically carved in a frog shape - to reconcile enemies. But there are other examples where it has been used in ancient times for similar purposes.
It is a symbol of youth - happiness - and is said to provide its wearer with oracle perceptions. It was also used in this manner as the best stone for a fortune teller's ball during Medieval times.

The largest aquamarine found was in 1910 - the stone weighed 243 pounds. It was cut into smaller stones creating over 200,000 carats.

Wouldn't that be nice to run across!

Happy birthday to all those March birthdays!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Making of the Vancouver Olympic Medals

I have been an Olympiholic the last two weeks. I am fascinated by the dedication of the human spirit, and the diversity of sport. I have been glued to my seat through hours of curling, skiing, skating, and so much more.

Along this two week journey, as a craftsman I became acutely aware of the Olympic medals so I did some research (spent two seconds typing in a search term) and discovered a video about the artist of the Vancouver medals and her inspiration for this year's awards. Pretty fascinating stuff - available at:

But of course that was too easy so I did some research into how they came up with gold, silver, and bronze for the medals in the first place and discovered (little to my surprise) that the Greeks weren't so into giving medal as awards. The first medals were presented at an Olympic game at the onset of what is called "the modern games" beginning in 1896. But at that game they were after my heart awarding silver for first place and bronze for second. Just the two, nothing for third.

The current medals are actually mostly silver with a coating of gold for the first place winner. The medals for the Summer have developed to having an image of Nike, goddess of victory on one side with the host nation designing the back. The winter games still have a pretty open design based on the whims and fancy of the host nation.... curious to see what the Russians will do in 2016, but there are a lot of games to watch before then.