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A Dazzling Discovery: More Gems Mined in the U.S.
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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

As you may have learned last month, while mining may not be as prevalent as it was during the booms that drove people westward, there are numerous gemstones that are mined in the U.S.  Color, size, value, and rarity do vary among gemstone types, which still create a demand for gems to be mined in the U.S. — especially when those gems come in a rainbow of colors.

•      Tourmaline
o   A semi-precious stone, tourmaline’s most common color is black, but has become known for its bi-colored variation of pink and green, called watermelon tourmaline. Ranging from a single color to bi-colored, to tri-colored, tourmaline’s color variations are generally agreed to be from iron and titanium (for greens and blues), and manganese (for reds and pinks, and possibly yellow). Other than being multi-colored, what makes tourmaline a distinctive gemstone is that it crystalizes in the trigonal system, a system that no other commonly mined minerals have.

o   Where it’s mined in the U.S.: California and Maine. California’s tourmaline deposits are significant to the northern hemisphere; the deposits here have been used for cutting and mineral specimens more than any other tourmaline deposits in the northern hemisphere. Maine hosts one of the largest tourmaline deposits where the gemstone has been found since 1820.

o   Rank on the Mohs scale of hardness: 7-7.5

•      Topaz
o   It wouldn’t be a list of gemstones mined in the U.S. without November’s birthstone of topaz making the list. While topaz most commonly occurs as colorless in nature, this gemstone can also range from yellow to brown. Blue and pink topaz do exist, however, as these colors are so rarely found naturally, a topaz in one of these shades has most likely been treated to achieve its distinct hue. Orange is the traditional color of precious topaz that’s received the honor of being November’s birthstone. Orange or yellow topaz tend to be the most sought-after colors, so it may be hard to believe that the gem is often produced by placer mining, mining of a stream bed.

o   Where it’s mined in the U.S.: Utah, Texas, Colorado, and Nevada.

o   Rank on the Mohs scale of hardness: 8. Topaz is actually one of the defining minerals on the Mohs scale.

While mining may have been what caused people to settle the western United States, it hasn’t completely died out. Now, however, valuable metals aren’t the end goal; semi-precious and precious gemstones can be found right here in the states.

Tune into next month’s blog post; we’re continuing the series of featuring gemstones mined in the U.S.


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