ABRACADABRA… Who was the first to make goldstone? You will find out in this blog post!

You have gemstones, that are made of minerals. And you have also gemstones that are made by animals, like coral, amber, and ivory. But did you know that there is a man-made gemstone, called goldstone? There are a few stories about the origin of goldstone. So let me tell you about the nicest and most exiting ones.

What has Columbus to do with goldstone?

At the beginning of the 15th century, Columbus gets the assignment of the queen of Spain to find the way to India and bring back spices and gold. Columbus takes the wrong way and ends up in America and calls the inhabitants Indians (he thinks this was India). But he brings a lot of gold to the queen and she is so happy and pays so well, that a lot of adventurous men start to get the gold of the Americas and bring it to Spain. Spain became very very rich. When one country or one queen is very rich there are always jealous people who want that wealth too. Only they do not have the opportunity to send a whole fleet to get the gold.

Christopher Columbus and the Santa Maria

Christopher Columbus and the Santa Maria

Which monk did it?

At that time the only educated people are the monks: they are the only ones who read and write. One day a few monks get the request of a mighty man from the clergy to try to make gold. And those monks know a lot about chemistry, alchemy and medicine and other things. So the mighty man thinks they have the ability to make gold. And he sees in his dream that he is as rich as the queen of Spain.

The monks tried and tried, but all tests fail. And then one day they make (by accident) a stone with golden spots in it: actually it is glass and by accident, copper shavings fell into the barrel of glass. They call it goldstone. It was no gold, but it was the closest to the gold they can work out.

It is me, not him!

Another story tells about an Italian monk who also invents goldstone by accident. While he is making glass and spills some copper in the glass: goldstone was born. Initially, the recipe is kept secret and passes on from monk to a monk. When the secret is revealed to the Doge of Venice (the boss of the city-state) he gives the license to make goldstone to the Miotti family. But there is no proof or no documentation that this story is true. Neither is there any documentation that the first story is true. It is also possible that the Miotti family invent goldstone in the 17th century themselves.

dark blue goldstone necklace

dark blue goldstone necklace

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Or is it Christoforo Briani?

There is a suggestion that in the 13th century one of the early glassmakers of the island of Murano (near Venice), Christoforo Briani, tries to make simulations of agate and chalcedony in glass and comes up with goldstone. Also, this is a nice story but not necessarily true.

Then the French do not stay behind and in France, there is a story that French monks invent goldstone, but the secret of making it is lost in times. It is rediscovered in modern times, and goldstone is now a popular material because of its beauty.

Your recipe for making goldstone!

It’s a type of glittering (because of the copper particles)  man-made glass, that is made in a low-oxygen reducing atmosphere. Here is the recipe if you want to try to make goldstone yourself! An initial batch is melted together from silica, copper oxide, and other metal oxides to chemically reduce the copper ions to elemental copper. The vat is then sealed off from the air and maintained within a narrow temperature range, keeping the glass hot enough to remain liquid, while allowing metallic crystals to precipitate from solution without melting or oxidizing.

After a crystallization period, the entire batch is cooled to a single solid mass, which is then broken out of the vat for selection and shaping. You will see that the final appearance of each batch is highly variable and heterogeneous. The best material is near the center or “heart” of the mass, ideally with large, bright metal crystals suspended in a semitransparent glass matrix.

blue goldstone necklace

blue goldstone necklace

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What alchemy gives the color to goldstone?

The common color of goldstone is reddish-brown, due to the copper in the material. It also exists in other color variants based on other elements. Cobalt or manganese can be substituted for copper; the resulting crystals have a more silvery appearance, resulting in blue goldstone or purple goldstone respectively. Green goldstone forms its reflective particles from chromium oxides.

Aventurine is goldstone?

Another name for goldstone is aventurine (glass). The name comes from the Italian name avventurina (from avventura, ‘adventure’ ). It is sometimes called ‘sang-e setareh’ or ‘sang-e khorshid‘ (sang means ‘stone’, ‘khorshid’ means ‘sun’ and setareh means ‘star’ in Farsi) for its starry internal reflections, or ‘monk’s gold’ from folkloric associations with an unnamed monastic order.

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