It is made of the fossilized shells of ammonites, which in turn are composed primarily of aragonite, the same mineral that makes up nacreous pearls. It is one of several biogenic gemstones; others include amber and pearl.
In 1981, ammolite was given official gemstone status by the World Jewellery Confederation, the same year commercial mining of ammolite began. In 2004 it was designated the official gemstone of the Province of Alberta.
Ammolite is also known as aapoak (Kainah for "small, crawling stone"), gem ammonite, calcentine, and korite. The latter is a trade name given to the gemstone by the Alberta-based mining company Korite International, the first and largest commercial producer of ammolite.
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