Lethbridge ammolite business had mammoth beginnings
For more than 20 years, a Lethbridge business has been making and selling ammolite jewelry from local findings around the area. Tom Chant, owner of Enchanted Designs Ltd., began his ammolite career in 1980 when he moved to the Yukon to work in the gold mines.
In 1983, Chant found a mammoth tusk. He began making rings and pendants using the ivory from the tusk. His interest was piqued and he moved to Vancouver to sell his mammoth tusk jewelry.
In Vancouver, Chant met officials from the Korite company and he became a supplier of mammoth tusk jewelry for some time. Then he decided to continue on his own and create his own company to sell mammoth ivory jewelry. He also turned his focus to another jewelry item gaining in popularity — ammolite.
In 1994, Chant moved to Lethbridge as he had heard the area is the best place to find ammonite, which is turned into ammolite. About a year and a half ago, he opened a larger shop on the north side of Lethbridge where he now has 14 employees that produce ammolite jewelry.
All the work is done in house at Chant’s Lethbridge shop. For the most part, the ammolite is sold to Chant by local First Nations from the Blood Reserve.
“Ammolite finds me,” explains Chant.
Currently in the works is his own mine that will be located on the Deerfield Colony, adjacent to the current Korite mine near Lethbridge.
“More recognition, that’s for sure,” adds Chant, about what he hopes to gain from opening his own ammonite mine.
Chant’s mine will be a three-acre dig. Chant says it’s already approved ground. He just moved the equipment onsite at the mining area in the last week of April and they will start the dig soon after the ground dries.
“If all goes well, we should be into the pay zone within four to six weeks,” he adds.
Chant emphasizes the fact the ammonite he uses is found locally near Lethbridge. Nothing is sent out anywhere to be made into jewelry.
“I’ve always enjoyed making the mammoth ivory mosaic, myself. I was always good at making the free-form gems, but now I’m too busy with the business end of it,” he explains.
Chant sells most of his ammolite jewelry at international trade shows. Some sales are done at the show and Chant says they also fill orders they get through the shows.
He says they recently increased production to approximately 120,000 ammolite gemstones (triplets) per year, 5,000 ammolite free-form gemstones per year and 400 ammonite fossils per year.
As well, a small amount of mammoth tusk mosaic has been made at Chant’s shop.
Tom Chant, owner of Enchanted Designs Ltd. in Lethbridge, shows off some of his mammoth tusk he has in his shop. Mammoth Tusk ivory jewelry is what got Chant started in the jewelry and ammolite industry.