Eilat Stone: Israel's National Gemstone
When copper ore was being in mined in the Temna copper mines near Israel's southern most city of
Eilat, something else was being mined there as well. That 'something else' was a greenish blue semi-precious gem stone known as Eilat Stone. Composed of a combination of copper ore minerals, including turquoise, azurite, malachite, and chrysocolla, this material, also known as King Solomon Stone, has been used as a gemstone since ancient times. Jewelry excavated from ancient Egyptian and Israelite tombs were found made with this stone.
Due to the unique geological formations in which the copper mines were located, Eilat stone is only found in this particular area and is not to be confused with similar looking stone which is often imported from the Far East and marked to tourists as "genuine" Eilat stone. When mining of copper ore at Timna became unprofitable due to the mines being flooded with brackish water, the mining of Eilat stone also ceased, make already available supplies more valuable to the point where a piece of polished Eilat stone smaller than the size of an American quarter is worth anywhere from $40 to $150 depending on it's shape and polished design.
Eilat Stone is considered to be the National Stone of Israel, and is sought after for making a variety of jewelry, including rings, earrings, necklaces and pendants, and broaches; as well as bracelets.
The uniqueness of polished Eilat Stone (no two pieces look exactly alike) makes it a truly beautiful jewelry item when combined with gold and silver settings. One must be careful where purchasing jewelry made with this gemstone as imitations and lesser quality minerals are often substituted.
Having the distinction of being found only in Israel, and being the country's national gemstone, Eilat Stone is becoming more recognized as a true gemstone, with prices climbing accordingly. The unset stones are found in quality mineral shops; and finished jewelry is becoming more present in higher quality fine jewelry stores. Internet mineral and jewelry websites also offer the stone, and unusual designs can fetch higher that usual prices; especially on internet auction sites. The hardness of the stone varies according to it's actual mineral composition; but most Eilat Stones have a hardness quality similar to turquoise ( 5 – 6 on Moe's mineral hardness scale).
Eilat Stone jewelry is often combined with ancient glass and is made into truly unique jewelry designs. Like other minerals, Eilat Stone is reputed to have healing qualities, including ailments of the heart, lungs and muscular systems.