Flaws and Gemstone Inclusions–unique road maps that tell a story

Most people have an uneasy relationship with their flaws. Flaws are seen as disrupting our effectiveness or ruining our looks–we obsess over them, bemoan their existence, imagine our faces and personalities and bodies without them. At the same time, we recognize our flaws make us who we are–they mark us as unique beings unlike anyone else. As such, we tolerate and even love them.

When it comes to Gemstones, flaws get dressed up in a fancy word–inclusions–and are as fascinating and worthy of examination as our own. The flaws–or inclusions–within a gemstone tell the story of how that particular gemstone formed and identify it as entirely individual and distinct. Much like our own quirks and idiosyncrasies formed by the experiences and circumstances of our lives inclusions within a gemstone are road maps to  a stone’s genesis.

Author and Gemologist Dr. Joel Arem says, “Simply put, an inclusion is any material that is trapped inside of another mineral while that mineral forms. Inclusions may be comprised of crystals of other minerals, liquid or gas bubbles, or even fractures caused by radioactive material contained within the host material. Inclusions are instrumental in identifying many species of gemstone and the world of gemstone inclusions is beautiful, fast, and exciting”

When choosing certain stones to set in my own jewelry, I often tell my stone cutters to find me stones that have “body”–this is my shorthand for inclusions. I want my Lapis Lazuli to showcase the pyrite streams within that, together with the blue mineral lazurite, give this colorful aggregate its distinct and subtle beauty. I specifically ask for Turquoise that shows traces of limonite and calcite in a spidery matrix across its surface.

Some stones such as Apple Green Chrysophrase and the clear Quartz varieties–green and pink amethyst, rock crystal and smoky quartz–look best when cut to showcase their clarity, inclusion-free. Other stones couldn’t exist without their characteristic inclusions–dendritic and rutilated quartz, banded and moss agates.

The photographer Danny Sanchez uses a powerful microscope and a camera to bring the inner words of included gemstones to life. These breathtaking photographs reveal the eerily beautiful landscapes within a gemstone– borne from the forces of immense heat, time and pressure deep within the earth’s crust where gemstones form. Jewelry entices for many reasons, and not least is the allure of adorning ourselves with one of these naturally borne miracles as we go through our daily lives.

Next time you are stuck in traffic, waiting in line at the grocery store, sweating through another spin class or just whiling away the hours in a daydream glance down at your favorite gemstone ring or slide that sparkly earring off and marvel at the feat of natural engineering that created your favorite bauble. Better yet, celebrate one of your unique and beautiful flaws while you do.

Phoebe Jonas