Leth­bridge am­mo­lite business had mammoth be­gin­nings

Lethbridge Herald - - HOMETOWN NEWS | SOUTHERN ALBERTA - Stephanie Labbe SOUTH­ERN AL­BERTA NEWS­PA­PERS

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.

Photo by Stephanie Labbe

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.

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