Mining for Herkimer Diamonds

Gemstone Mining

I recently returned from vacation and one thing that we did was “mine for diamonds.”  Really, it’s quartz crystal that we were mining for, but the folks around the area refer to them as Herkimer Diamonds.

Gemstone Mining

We pulled into the parking lot and were greeted with this pile.

As a little background, my husband’s superpower is putting together fun trips for us that include usually gorgeous nature, historical locations, quirky places and typically something haunted.  He does not usually tell me exactly what we’re doing because he likes to surprise me.

So even though I knew we were going mining that day, I had no idea what that meant.  I have been in coal mines before, so my best guess was that we were going underground and some tour guide would show us where to chisel and we’d get a crystal and it would all be very easy and commercial.

Gemstone Mining

That’s not at all how it worked.

As a jewelry designer, I am somewhat aware of how we get gemstone beads, but really only vaguely until now.

We went into the office and paid for admission.  We rented tools.  We rented:  hammers, chisel, small rake, trowel and a sifter.

Then we got a map of the property that included several spots.  It’s a little confusing and I was overwhelmed, but there are areas that basically people work at for weeks and then find an area filled with crystal called a pocket.  Then they have areas for people like my husband and I where you can find the quartz crystal more quickly.  We were planning to spend an hour or two there.

Gemstone Mining

To be completely honest, at first I was overwhelmed.  You first have to find the proper rock. Then you have to hammer it open to find the crystal.  Then you can chisel away the rock from the crystal.

It was difficult and not easy or fast.  I worry about falling and hurting myself, so I wasn’t too keen on climbing up a hill of rocks.

Gemstone Mining

But my hubby did climb up.

I stayed more toward the bottom (where that sifter is) and started digging through the dirt.

To be honest, at first before we got the hang of it I really wanted to just go into the gift shop, buy a bag of quartz crystals and go on with our day.

Then I found one!  It was super tiny, but I found one!  Then I was in.  So we dug through dirt and hammered open rocks and this is what we ended up with:

Gemstone Mining

They need cleaned up, obviously, but these are all the crystals we found.  My husband found the big one.  I plan to make a pendant with it.

Gemstone Mining

It was so fun and fascinating to be looking for my own gemstones since I use them all the time in my jewelry.  At one point I said to my husband, “How are gemstone beads so relatively inexpensive?  This is such hard work.”

We, of course, were doing it by hand.

It was a fun day and I will be cleaning up these quartz crystals and using them in jewelry.

Ever wonder where your gems come from?  Do a little research to find out.  It’s so inspiring to hear the back story of how your gemstones got from the earth to your necklace!

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