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A Luminous Discovery: Even MORE Gems Mined in the U.S.
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Monday, December 7, 2015

As some states are known for their cuisine, others known for their sports teams, it’s only sensible that some states are known for producing gemstones. While the International Gem Society lists the “top four” gems mined in the U.S. as diamond, emerald, ruby, and sapphire, after there were population booms and mining rushes, other gems and minerals became increasingly popular.

With so many birthstones listed for December, it only makes sense to choose the gemstone that is regularly mined in the U.S. (and isn’t lab-created). While turquoise is technically a mineral, since it’s one of December’s listed birthstones, it’s considered a gemstone for this list. The other gemstone that is mined in the U.S. that graces this December list isn’t a birthstone, but is memorable nonetheless.

•      Turquoise
o   While this gem is commonly mined in the Southwest, it can be found elsewhere in the world, which is where the name ‘turquoise’ comes from. Turquoise was initially brought to Europe from Turkey in the 17th century. In French, the greenish-blue gem was called ‘turques’ for ‘Turks,’ since the Turkish people brought the gems to Europe. But in the U.S., turquoise was used by Native Americans long before Europeans arrived. Native American tribes in the U.S. mined turquoise, traded the gemstone, and used it in jewelry. Southwestern Native American tribes started the production of backing turquoise jewelry with sterling silver pieces. Turquoise struck the attention of gemstone lovers everywhere because naturally blue minerals are particularly rare.

o   Where it’s mined in the U.S.: The Southwest; Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. Colorado and California are also on the list of states where turquoise is mined in the U.S.

o   Rank on the Mohs scale of hardness: 5-6

•      Beryl
o   Another mineral (but loved as a gemstone), beryl, is comprised of beryllium. Because of its high levels of beryllium, beryl was the main ore of beryllium metal before 1969. Beryl gets its sea-blue color from iron, however it comes in a full spectrum of colors. The gemstone varieties of beryl are actually named by their color: aquamarine (blue/cyan beryl), emerald (green beryl), morganite (pink or orange beryl), heliodor (yellow or greenish yellow beryl), maxixe (deep blue beryl), and goshenite (colorless beryl). The color varieties of this gem can be confusing though; the name 'green beryl' refers to beryl that is light green in color, but 'emerald' refers to true green beryl.

o   Where it’s mined in the U.S.: Utah, North Carolina, the New England region, and South Dakota. In the United States, New England has some of the largest beryl gems ever found, one coming from Maine that weighed 18 metric tons. Beryl also happens to be New Hampshire’s state mineral.

o   Rank on the Mohs scale of hardness: 7.5-8

Stayed tuned for more information on several other varieties of gemstones and minerals mined in the U.S. in the new year!



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