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red agateJust perfect for your Halloween creations -- these Red Agate Evil Eye beads are of stone that was formed from layers of silica from volcanic cavities. Agate is named after the Achates River (now known as the Dirillo River) on the island of Sicily, Italy, whose upper waters were an ancient source of this gemstone. Each strand offered here has 16 round faceted beads, with colors ranging from red to amber, as shown. Each bead is approx. 10 mm. with an approx. 2 mm. hole. Each strand is $10, but for a limited time, take 10% off with the code HALLOWEEN at checkout.


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blue splotchHistorically, accidental discoveries have resulted in some of our greatest scientific advances. This week I was reminded of another such discovery with a huge amount of potential in a range of applications – including handmade jewelry.

Back in 2009, Professor Mas Subramaniun from the Department of Chemistry at Oregon State University created a pigment which had a new and vibrant shade of blue. Formed by heating black manganese oxide and other chemicals in a furnace to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the intention of Subramaniun and his research group was not to create new pigments, but to create new materials for applications in solid state electronics. Instead, by pure chance, a graduate student of Subramaniun happened to notice the blue color of the compound in the furnace that is now known as YInMn Blue, an allusion to its composition that includes Yttrium, Indium and Manganese.

Now, you may be thinking, ‘Haven’t all the conceivable colors already been discovered?’ The answer is that we know of a full spectrum of possible colors, many have never been created or observed in real life—or that we know of! I live next door to a wonderful artist who paints in oil. The first time I ever saw her paintings I fell in love with them, and especially with the incredibly distinctive colors. They seemed so vibrant and unusual. When I asked her about them, she says she always mixes colors to her own taste, rather than using anything ‘straight out of the tube’. My guess is that she has ‘discovered’ at least a few new colors, but she hasn’t been sufficiently discovered as an artist yet, so exposure to the public is limited.

Currently we do not have pigments to match every color in the rainbow, and some colors have always been difficult to find in nature, particularly those blue and indigo colors; in fact, indigo was originally found in small quantities in India, extracted from the plant Indigofera tinctoria, and exported in small quantities for vast sums of money. These days, blue dyes are reasonably commonplace, but are prone to rapidly losing their vibrancy.

While YInMn has sat on the shelf for seven years, it has now been commercialized as a paint, owing to the low toxicity and high durability of the pigment. Given its applications in energy efficient paint, this beautiful new shade of blue could be coming to a roof or wall near you soon!.

new blueThe icing on the cake to this story is that the Crayola company has jumped on this, as appropriate for such a discovery, and has enlisted fans and customers to help in giving the new color a more accessible and ‘rememberable’ name. So far they have received almost 90,000 submissions, and they have narrowed the possibilities down to five names for a crayon in the color currently known as YInMn Blue. The finalists are: Dreams Come Blue, Bluetiful (my personal favorite as you can see from the title on this blog post), Blue Moon Bliss, Reach for the Stars, and Star Spangled Blue.

You can vote on the name here at Crayola’s web site (and simultaneously enter for a chance to win a cool prize), until August 31, 2017. You know which one I’m picking – how about you?

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

Rocks to Gems – A Metaphor of TransformationRocks to Gems – A Metaphor of Transformation


The Legend of AquamarineThe Legend of Aquamarine

Until Next Time,


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