Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"fossil stone"

I have now received the mysterious fossil stone of which I spoke a couple posts down.  With a super quick scratch test, I have determined that it is in fact limestone.  Don't worry, I didn't scratch up the whole thing, I found a hidden away inside-spot, and just tested a little area.  As advertised, it is full of crinoid stems!  (okay, that wasn't advertised - "fossil-like patterns" were advertised, but the picture showed a piece with crinoid stems, which is visual advertising to me)

I was kinda hoping (but not expecting) that it would be silicified (ie, composed of quartz) since quartz has a hardness of 7, and is therefore less scratchable than limestone.  Limestone is comprised of calcite, which has a hardness of just 4, and is easily scratched by common items - such as a pocket knife.  (My pocket knife was used for this test)  Limestone also dissolves in weak acid.  Because of the softness and the dissolution, calcite just doesn't seem like an ideal gemstone to me.  However, I have to keep reminding myself that jewelry is exposed to much gentler conditions than outcrops and buildings!  The pendant will certainly hold up in normal use for a very long time.  

By the way, marble is metamorphosed limestone (or dolostone, a magnesium rich calcium carbonate).  Marble is also completely comprised of calcite (and/or dolomite).  The softness makes it a good sculptural medium, but the dissolution in weak acid means that anything exposed to the elements will be surficially eaten away in a relatively short time span.  (natural waters and rain are usually slightly acidic, and even more so if it's being affected by industry as is the case with "acid rain")

1 comment:

John said...

I'd be interested to see a photo of your crinoid fossils. I have a small collection of crinoids from Lincolnshire beaches.