Airfare Daily Deals eCigarettes Eyeglasses Hotels Jewelry Online Backup Online Dating Online Printing Online Tickets Skin Care Textbook Rentals Vitamins Web Hosting Weddings
Find coupons, reviews and similar sites for any retailer
SEARCH

Helenite: The Sparkling Green Gem of Mount St. Helens Volcanic Ash

Helenite is a man-made high quality gemstone made of volcanic glass that was comprised of the ash from the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens, Skamania County Washington, in May of 1980. Although Helenite is not widely known or recognized, popularity and affection for the gems is growing.

Helenite is a man-made high quality gemstone made of volcanic glass that was comprised of the ash from the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens, Skamania County Washington, in May of 1980. Although Helenite is not widely known or recognized, popularity and affection for the gems is growing.

The incredible eruption that occurred in 1980 on Mount St. Helens was one of the most deadliest and costly eruptions that has been recorded to date. Fifty seven people were killed, two hundred and fifty homes, forty seven bridges, fifteen miles of railways, and one hundred and eighty five miles of highway were all destroyed as a result of the eruption. It created mass devastation and spewed over 1.5 million metric tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere along with twenty four megatons of thermal energy that left a one mile wide crater behind. The volcano ejected igneous rock from ten to twenty miles ungrounded out into the atmosphere, unearthing layers of rock that have become the base for Helenite creation.

Helenite was created rather by accident. During the devastation, a local timber company took blow torches to remains of wreckage left behind in the efforts to salvage what they could of their equipment. In the process, as the torch heated the ash and sediment, they noticed the heat melted the ash and formed a shiny green substance as a result.

Fusing this material at 2700 degrees Fahrenheit is what creates the material that then goes through the lapidary process in which the high quality glass gem is faceted and cut to desired shapes and sizes.

The gem species of Helenite is categorized as Silicate and on the Moh's scale, it only registers at a 5 for hardness. Although there are variations in this data. Other resources and gem providers list Helenite at a hardness of 7.5 to 8 on the hardness scale. The lower the hardness factor in all gems, the more easily they abrade or chip so it is best to handle the gem with care. It does have a high enough hardness however that makes it facetable. Chemically, the composition of Helenite includes Si (60.50%), Al (16.60%), Fe (6.02%), Ca (5.36%), along with other elements that can create other shades and colors which is usually determined by the amount of gold and copper used.

Although it can be found in deeper shades of blue and even red, it is the green shade the is most common and highly prized.

Other names for it are Mount St. Helen's Obsidian, Emerald Obsidianite, and Ruby Obsidianite although the most common term used is Helenite. It is important to note however, that although Obsidian is referenced in name variants, Helenite is not an actual Obsidian. Obsidian is characterized by naturally occurring volcanic glass.

As well, it is also important to note that the G.I.A (Gemological Institute of America) does not recognize Helenite as a classified gemstone.

Image Source

Image Source

Other creations that have been used from the ash of the volcanic blast of Mount St. Helens in 1980 are hand blown glass ornaments, vases and bowls that come in a whole range of colors, styles and shapes. Private auctions, art retailers and online sellers are locations in which these products and pieces of art may be purchased.

Image Source

Need an answer?
Get insightful answers from community-recommended
experts
in Mineralogy & Gemology on Knoji.
Would you recommend this author as an expert in Mineralogy & Gemology?
You have 0 recommendations remaining to grant today.
Comments (3)

New information to me; thanks for introducing us to this new gem.

You're welcome. :) Thank you for your comment and support.

Hello.....it is not a \"gem\" it is glass!!!  THAT is the reason it is not recognized as a gem!!!  Educate yourself before you hand over one red dime on something you can find in a bubble gum machine!!!

ARTICLE DETAILS
RELATED ARTICLES
ARTICLE KEYWORDS