Take a look at the remarkable shine of this material: you could be forgivern for thinking that you’re holding woven gold! Syngonanthus nitens – known more widely as “golden grass” from its translation from the Portuguese “capim dourado” – is a grass-like species of Eriocaulaceae, a flowering grass species seen in Ontario and known as the common pipewort. A native species of Jalapão, in Brazil’s cerrado, its bright gold coloring make it stand apart from its global cousins.
The women of the community traditionally harvest the golden grass in the same way it has been passed down for generations. An exchange between indigenous groups and other locals served as the catalyst for the now thriving community art-form, and regional policies have been put in place to ensure sustainable practices.
Our ancestors, from prehistoric times, raised sheep for their wool, using that wool as shoes and to warm themselves. With constant use and the moisture from sweat, they discovered felt. The advent of the industrial revolution meant felt could be mass produced, but with art felt, no machine is used: everything is hand-made. This delicate process is something you can feel as you hold this enchanting material in your hands.
Using their imagination, the artist must synthesize a marriage of sorts between the wool and the other materials at hand, creating something that suspends the delicate wool in an item that almost seems to defy our expectations of how textiles can join together.
If this alloy strikes you as industrial, you’d be right, but its influence reaches further into the art world more than you might imagine! While carbon ligature’s light-weight quality has made it a hit in such wide-ranging modern industries as aeronautics engineering and medical equipment, that same feather-weight feature has drawn artists to it for its ability to let them form gravity-defying works of art.
These plate-like stones formed their shimmering facets over millions of years as the final layer on a wide range of minerals that act as drusy’s base. These formations can take on a plethora of sizes and colours. Note their velvety appearance: these crystals are truly delicate and must be cut carefully to avoid damage. Brazil is the world’s leading supplier and miner of drusy.
This fine-grain rock has fascinated and inspired artists through the ages thanks to its ability to manifest itself in a wide range of stunning colours and patterns. Sizable geodes of Brazilian agate arise out of layered nodules usually ranging from brownish tones interlayered with white and gray.
Agate can crack and chip rather easily. Clean using warm soapy water and a soft brush.
Topaz is valued as a gemstone for its beautiful transparency. However, while it is ranked among the very hardest silicon-based minerals, topaz must be treated with greater care than some other minerals of comparable hardness due to weak atomic bonding of the stone’s molecules. This gives topaz a tendency to fracture along an axial plane if struck with sufficient force.
High heat or sudden temperature changes can cause breaks in topaz. The gem’s color is generally stable to light, but prolonged exposure to heat or sunlight might cause fading in yellow-to-brown, reddish brown, or dark brown topaz. Topaz is affected only very slightly by chemicals. It’s important to avoid steam or ultrasound for cleaning topaz: Warm, soapy water works best.
Cheers! This purple variety of quartz was held by the ancient Greeks to have the power to protect from drunkenness! A comparably tame take on the regal amethyst is found in Tibet, where monks regard amethyst as the ideal stone for making prayer beads. Brazil boasts some of the best varieties of the mineral.
Abrupt temperature changes can cause amethyst to fracture. Some amethyst colour can fade with prolonged exposure to intense light. Amethyst can also be damaged by hydrofluoric acid, ammonium fluoride, and alkaline solutions. Amethyst can be safely cleaned with warm soapy water.
These electrically polarized gems got their start in nineteenth century science, where they were used to adjust the vibrations of light waves or repel and attract hot ashes. Today, tourmalines of every colour are sourced in Brazil, where a significant copper component gives Brazilian tourmalines a striking intensity.
Tourmaline is generally stable to light and isn’t affected by exposure to chemicals, but heat can damage a tourmaline. High heat can alter the colour, and sudden temperature change (thermal shock) can cause fracturing. Warm, soapy water is the best method for cleaning tourmaline.
This intensely blue stone has been mined since antiquity in the mountains of Afghanistan and the Indus Valley. The deep blue of this metamorphic rock has even been ground down to make vivid blue paints. Warm, soapy water is the safest way to clean lapis lazuli.
Rutilated quartz is a transparent quartz with inclusions of golden yellow rutile, hairlike mineral growths, which can range from thin, sparse, and parallel, to thick, dense, and crisscrossed. Every gemstone pattern is unique, explaining why rutilated quartz is one of the few gemstones desirable because of its inclusions. Rutilated quartz exists chiefly in colourless, transparent quartz and is sourced mainly from Brazil.
While modernity has made this greenish-blue mineral more widely available than ever before, history records its popularity as the adornment of royalty across the globe and among the world’s great civilizations.
Being a phosphate mineral, turquoise is inherently fragile and sensitive to solvents; perfume and other cosmetics will attack the finish and may alter the colour of turquoise gems, as will skin oils, as will most commercial jewelry cleaning fluids. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight may also discolour or dehydrate turquoise. Care should therefore be taken when wearing such jewels: cosmetics, including sunscreen and hair spray, should be applied before putting on turquoise jewelry, and they should not be worn to a beach or other sun-bathed environment. After use, turquoise should be gently cleaned with a soft cloth to avoid a buildup of residue, and should be stored in its own container to avoid scratching by harder gems. Turquoise can also be adversely affected if stored in an airtight container.