The state of New York holds a vast array of gemstones that should interest nearly any prospective rockhound.
The most famous three minerals are Herkimer diamonds, tremolite, and garnets. All three of these stones have quite a bit of value in addition to being beautiful and their appearance can draw collectors and prospectors from far way. If you’ve been thinking about visiting the Empire State and you want to get your hands dirty rather than wander in New York City then you’re in luck.
The name of Herkimer diamonds is something of a misnomer, instead of being diamonds they’re actually a form of quartz crystal with water-like clarity that are double terminated. The complete formation of these crystals is primarily what gives them their name since they almost look faceted right out of the ground thanks to the sixteen faces of the crystals as they’re formed.
They’re only found in Herkimer County in the state. They occur primarily in dolostone and were first found located in Mohawk Valley when geologists began digging there.
The clarity is the result of extremely slow formation. This means the crystals formed over a long time, even on a geological time scale and this resulted in the amazingly clear stones. Some of them have inclusions as well, the most common of which is anthraxolite which forms beautiful black formations within the amazingly clear crystals.
If you’re looking to dig some up yourself, then you’ll want to drop in at the Herkimer Diamond Mine in Herkimer, New York. The fees are pretty low, running about $12 per day for adults and you’ll be able to dig in the above ground mines and take a look for yourself.
It’ll make for an interesting experience and they’re common enough you should easily be able to add some of these famous stones to your collection.
Tremolite and Tourmaline
In St. Lawrence County in New York, it’s possible to find some truly unique variations of tremolite. This stone was originally called hexagonite as the initial indications showed that it was hexagonal in its structure but it was found to be something of a misnomer as the stone is monoclinic.
The stones come in a deep purple shade, rivaling amethyst for sheer beauty in Imperial purple. Most tremolite found is fibrous, and it was one of the recognized varieties of asbestos used in early fireproofing methods. These gemstones end up being quite beautiful, and far different from the normal form associated with the mineral.
In addition, there are some unique varieties of tourmaline in the area, primarily in black and brown hues, that ought to stand out to any collector. These are known as uvite and dravite respectively.
If you’re looking to collect some of your own, there’re a couple of locations that are pretty much required visits. You’ll want to try out either Power’s Farm Uvite or Selleck Road Tremolite in order to get the most out of your trip to New York.
The latter of these is by far the most interesting of the two locations as far as tremolite is concerned. Directions can be found quite easily and once you arrive you’ll just need your normal prospecting gear in order to make a day of it.
Look around the forest floor and stream beds, using a garden rake you’re sure to be able to bring up some of the stones.
If tourmaline is your thing, then you’ll be pleased to know that in this area you can also find brown dravite if you are careful enough. They’re much rarer than the hexagonite however, but it’s definitely a possibility and it’s worth looking.
If you go north to Power’s Farm Uvite the owner will let you dig for the day for about $5. In this famous location, you may be able to find some of the world-famous specimens of black tourmaline which are much sought after in the collector’s market.
Garnets in New York
Garnets hardly need an introduction, and they’re one of the most common precious gems around. These stones are quite plentiful in New York if you know where to look.
The most common destination is definitely in Adirondack Park and the surrounding mountains. A quick perusal of the area turns up a bunch of dig-for-fee sites that might yield exactly what you’re looking for.
Some of the best locations are available through tours using the Garnet Mine Tours company, but a look into the history of the area will turn up a bunch of mines that have left behind gravel after closing. Frequently, one can find garnets simply by “washing” and dumping out the gravel and looking for the tell-tale sparkle of the crimson stones.
Rockhounding in New York
If you’re planning on visiting the state of New York in order to look for stones it’s definitely worth a shot. While garnets can be found frequently across the US, the discerning collector will most likely be after unique specimens of hexagonite, tourmaline, and above all the Herkimer diamonds which are world famous.
Give it a shot, it might be just the rockhounding adventure you’ve been looking for.