Aquamarine, from the Latin aquaand mare meaning water and sea, is a blue variety of the mineral beryl, with the chemical composition Be3Al2(SiO3)6. Naturally colourless, when tinted with specific impurities beryls are called by other names including emerald (green), bixbite (red), morganite (pink) and heliodor (golden). The typical pale blue colour of aquamarine is caused by the presence of iron. The more intense the colour of an aquamarine, the more valuable it is considered to be, with the deepest blue variety called maxixe. However today many aquamarines are artificially given an intenser blue colour using irradiation by high-energy particles such as gamma rays and neutrons - considered a standard and acceptable procedure in the gem trade.
Deposits of aquamarine are found in several places including the US, Sri Lanka, Russia, Colombia, Zambia, China Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania, Pakistan and Kenya. The finest and largest specimens come from Brazil. Unlike emerald, aquamarine is almost always entirely free of inclusions or flaws and is sometimes found in huge crystals. Aquamarine is both hard and durable (7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale) and possesses moderate to good brilliance, which makes it a very popular gemstone with jewellery designers.
The biggest aquamarine ever mined was found near the city of Marambaia, Minas Gerais, Brazil, in 1910. It weighed over 110.5 kg, and its dimensions were 48.5 cm long and 42 cm in diameter. Another famous stone is the 'Dom Pedro', weighing 26 Kg and cut in Idar-Oberstein in 1992 by the gemstone designer Bernd Munsteiner.
Varieties of beryl have been considered precious since prehistoric times. Stones dating to 480 to 300 BC have been found in Greek excavations while beryls are mentioned in the Bible as one of the stones found in the Jewish High Priest's breastplate (Exodus 28).
Called the stone of Courage and Protection, aquamarine was traditionally thought to come from the treasure chests of mermaids and was regarded as the sailors' lucky stone, keeping them safe from drowning and preventing seasickness. Aquamarine is also considered to be a stone of serenity and calmness. In the Middle Ages it was thought that aquamarines could reduce the effect of poisons.
Aquamarine opens your intuition and awareness, is associated most with the throat Chakra, and can be used to promote verbal self-expression, spiritual communication and clear communication blocks.
Linda has a Honours degree in Marine Biology and a PhD in Ecology from the University of NSW, Australia. She has travelled extensively and is a passionate writer on subjects as diverse as the role played by women throughout history, tribal communities and their customs, symbology and ethnology, talismans and their history. Occasionally she also writes about her travel experiences, her new life on a 25 acres in the Northern Rivers region of northern Australia and her black miniature poodle Phoenix. She is currently writing her first book on talismans.
In 1989 my father Bernard packed in his house painting business and set off for two years on a backpacking trek to the remotest corners of the world. When he finally arrived in the oasis city of Kashgar, China, he was so impressed with its history that he decided to start a new life collecting and selling exotic goods from all over the world. For 2000 years the legendary city of Kashgar was a melting pot of ideas and a key trading post on the historic Silk Road. It was this unique combination of philosophy and trade that my father wanted to recreate at home.
Starting in markets in 1991, he opened his first store in the Sydney suburb of Newtown in 1994. I gave up my own career as a government scientist to join him in 2000 and soon convinced my partner Ian to join us in what was to become the Family Business.
Today our version of Kashgar stocks a hugely diverse range of furniture, rugs, textiles, antiques, handicrafts and jewellery sourced from over twenty different countries including India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Thailand, Burma, Laos, the Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico, Peru, Turkey, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Our collection includes contemporary and tribal silver and gold jewellery, a unique range of headhunting curios, antique Buddhist relics and a collection of one-off necklaces, earrings and bracelets that I design and create myself using the beads and jewellery making techniques of ethnic minorities from around the globe.
Kashgar is a philosophy as well as a store. We are committed to supporting traditional artisans and small village communities by selling authentic handcrafted goods which are personally collected by us. By supporting traditional methods of design and production we hope to encourage local cottage industries which have a low impact on the environment and help ethnic minorities maintain their self-sufficiency into the 21st Century. We are particularly committed to assisting women around the world and to this end have worked with several organisations including the Hua Bin Women's Union of Vietnam, the East Timorese Women's Association and Tikondane in Zambia. Time honoured means of craftsmanship and traditional ways of life are disappearing as people all over the world give up their identity in favour of jeans and T-shirts. We see our trade as a means of staving off the inevitable encroachment of the 21st century, assisting communities to decide for themselves which parts of the western world they wish to incorporate (medicine, education) and which they wish to reject (prostitution, drug production, begging and servitude to warlords). We encourage our customers to think of the handicrafts and artifacts they buy from us as an investment: a piece of history and a way of life that may soon be gone forever.
Kashgar has recently closed its retail outlet and gone completely online.
In the past our pieces appeared in many movies including The Hobbit, Mission Impossible 2, Queen of the Damned, Scooby Doo, Moulin Rouge and Wolverine, and in many televisions series, as well as in plays, commercials and exhibitions. We've found special pieces for individual customers as well as for film sets, event management companies, hotels, businesses, consulates and embassies. The uniqueness of our stock means that we are also very appealing to interior and fashion designers with a taste for the exotic.
There is something for everyone at Kashgar - collectors, the curious, those looking for a special present or for something unique to adorn the home. Most of our items are one-off specialties; other pieces we only stock in small quantities so as to continuously offer a wide and ever-changing range of interesting products. We are also packed with ideas for decorating home and work premises that will challenge your established concepts of design and storage.
Please enjoy - Linda Heaphy
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