Love, Marriage, and Korite


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cut ammolite - Korite
“Yellow Dragon Ammolite” by Jessa and Mark Anderson. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

In 2014, the International Gem Society (IGS) held an essay contest. Members were asked to write short pieces promoting awareness of colored gemstones. The following essay was one of the finalists.

Jack and Diane were on track for the next big step.

Eight years ago, they met by chance in a shabby diner tucked away in a small town. They talked for hours over coffee. They made an almost instantaneous connection, as if they’d known each other all their lives. Diane spoke of how she strived to go against the grain. This intrigued Jack greatly, since he had a hard time doing that. Growing up with a strict father, Jack had it virtually drilled into his brain to follow the norm and do the expected. On the other hand, his maternal grandfather, Benjamin, always tried to encourage Jack to try something different.

In the years since Jack and Diane started dating, she proved she wasn’t much for conformity or trends. Following the beat of her own drum was exciting.

Searching for a Unique Engagement Ring

The couple enjoyed many adventures. They created wonderful memories and eccentric stories to share. Jack knew the time for the ultimate commitment had arrived. For a while, Diane had been subtly dropping hints she was ready for an engagement and marriage. With their connection so intense, of course Jack picked up on those hints.

He was just as ready as Diane. However, he didn’t know how to propose. Jack knew that, no matter what he did, Diane would say yes. Still, he wanted to astound her. He wanted to do something special and unique for her. In a conversation with his grandfather Benjamin, Jack expressed his feelings about the engagement. Not only did Jack want to pop the question in a unique way, he also wanted a unique engagement ring, not a run-of-the-mill piece. Instead, he wanted something that would fit her personality and embody her spirit.

Benjamin knew what would make the perfect ring. He also knew it would take some convincing for Jack to agree.

Love and Marriage

Benjamin started off slowly. He knew his grandson would require an impeccable argument to go along with an unconventional idea.

Since he himself had been married for fifty years, Benjamin began by describing love and marriage as he viewed them. He explained that true love only develops over time. Although some spark may start right away, it takes time to truly cultivate love. Only by growing over the years will it endure. He explained that love and marriage aren’t just one dimensional. They are complicated, multi-layered, imperfect, and colorful. Love and marriage are beautiful.

Most importantly, they aren’t all the same. Benjamin then posed this question to Jack:

Why should everyone’s ring be the same? If a ring is supposed to represent an everlasting bond, shouldn’t it represent a couple’s specific bond?

Jack’s eyes were starting to open up. Benjamin knew this was the moment to introduce the idea for the ring. He stated firmly that the ring should be made from Korite.

What is Korite?

Korite?! Jack had never heard of such a gem. Benjamin explained that Korite was a trade name for the gem material known as ammolite. That didn’t help. Jack was still just as baffled. His strict fall-in-line thought process started to emerge. How could he get Diane an engagement ring made from a gem he’d never even heard of?

Korite pendant
The mining company Korite International, the largest commercial supplier of ammolites, sells these gems under the trade name of Korite. “Korite International 14K Gold and Diamond Pendant” by Jaymaull. Licensed under CC By-SA 4.0.

Benjamin quickly reminded Jack of his soon-to-be wife’s unique personality. In fact, this gem would make a perfect fit. He started to explain the idea behind choosing Korite. Similar to opal, this rare gemstone was also a unique local resource for them. It was only found on the eastern side of the Rockies, in the Bearpaw Formation of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Montana. However, the history behind the formation of Korite was what would make it an ideal engagement ring.

Ammolite gems, Benjamin explained, are made of the fossilized shells of ammonites. Jack had never heard of ammonites, either. So, of course, Benjamin provided a brief, to-the-point explanation. Ammonites were an extinct group of marine invertebrates, similar to today’s octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish. Now, Jack was even more baffled. Why should he give the love of his life a gem made from a fossil of something like a squid?

The fact that it is a fossil is the point, Benjamin asserted. Fossils have stood the test of time. Like love and marriage, this particular fossil improves with age.

Jack started to understand a little more why he should use a Korite.

Korite and Marriage Both Require Special Care

To keep Jack interested in such an outlandish idea for an engagement ring, Benjamin started discussing this unusual gem’s appearance. Just like love and marriage, ammolites come in many varieties. Korite is very colorful. This gem displays a wide array of iridescent colors of every kind. The better preserved fossils display more vibrant colors. Some stones show exquisite patterns of healed fractures, too, just like well-cared for marriages.

Ammolites are also very delicate. As jewelry stones, they benefit from protective settings. As ring stones, they make excellent choices for assembled jewelry pieces such as triplets, with supportive backs and transparent caps of harder gem materials. Like love and marriage, Korite needs a great support system to flourish throughout the years.

Benjamin could see he’d convinced Jack enough to commit to the idea. Next, he had to help him plan the event.

A Symbol of Love

Benjamin offered Jack some insight on how to propose. Again, he relied on his own experience. He told the story of how he took his wife to be, Georgette, to her favorite place, a local diner, some fifty years ago. In the middle of a passionate conversation about life goals, he just casually brought it up over a cup of coffee.

Jack realized that was the same diner where he and Diane had met eight years ago. He thought it was quite fitting to take his grandfather’s advice. He chose the same place, since it had such significance to both couples.

One evening, Jack brought Diane to that shabby diner. He began talking about an unusual gem his grandfather had introduced him to. At just the right moment, he took out the ring and popped the question. Without hesitation, Diane said yes. She particularly loved the ring after such an eloquent explanation of how well Korite symbolized love and marriage.

fossil ammonite - ammolite Korite
“Ammolite” by Deidre Woollard. Licensed under CC By 2.0.