Earlier this summer, we were lucky enough to spend a few days in Iceland which is situated in the northern Atlantic Ocean close to Greenland. Despite its name, Iceland wasn't really that cold. It rarely gets colder than -5 degrees C in the winter nor does it get overly warm either in the summer. The climate is so mild because of the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. Just outside the harbour of Reykjavik, the capital city are little islands inhabited by comical puffins which apparently winter in Newfoundland, Canada!

Iceland is geologically active - their meteorological office has both the latest weather AND earthquake map! On the plus side, Icelandic people get virtually free hot water and heating from underground thermal sources. Indeed hot steam vents can sometimes be seen here and there in the countryside. Our favourite spots to visit were areas where geysers and bubbling hot water or mud pools could be seen. The geyser on the bottom left was a spectacular one erupting every few minutes. The Icelandic word "geysir" is the origin of the word we use today. Elsewhere acres and acres of old lava fields (below right) could be seen. The rocks were covered with lichen. The steam seen rising in the horizon is a geothermal plant near Blue Lagoon which is a famous hot mineral spa pool.

Walking along Reykjavik's main shopping street, I noticed jewelry featuring lava stone for sale. Alas, the finished jewelry was way too expensive. Most things in Iceland are because the tax is an astounding 24%! I did so want to leave Iceland with at least a souvenir and not just the ability to pronounce Reykjavik! As luck would have it, we stayed very near the only jewelry and hobby shop in the entire city. So I was able to buy a strand of medium sized (about 10 mm) beads to make my own jewelry - sure is handy when you know how!

(NB All the jewelry stores seem to use this black lava stone but the native lava looks different. As confirmed by a reader's comment, Iceland does not appear to have any industry making lava stones which is a pity because there were tons in Iceland.)

Lava stone is volcanic rock. Closeup (see below), it looks like pumice which is also a type of volcanic rock. Lava stone is also used as a luxury counter top surface after being glazed with coloured enamel. I may not have expensive counter tops but I do have lava beads from Iceland!!

The Beading Gem's Journal