Welcome to Malak Jewelers' Monday Message! Each Monday we will post an informational blog post. Check in each week to learn more about the history of jewelry, rare gemstones, the diamond industry, and more! This week, in honor of the Fourth of July, we want to talk about some American gemstones!With the exception of the Oregon sunstone, all images are of Malak Jewelers' in-store gemstone jewelry stock!
Where do you think of, when you think of gemstones? Africa, probably? Diamonds are well known for coming from Africa, so most people tend to think of Africa as a big producer of gemstones. Perhaps you know about specific stones, like Australian opal, or Brazilian tourmaline. But do you ever think of America?
You might be surprised to learn that America produces a wide range of gemstones. Some of the most sought-after stones come from America, like rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Some stones are synonymous with early American cultures, like turquoise. And some stones are only found in America, like benitoite.
In honor of Fourth of July, read on to learn more about the jewels that come from our great country!
The Big Ones
Sapphires are some of the most desired gems in the world. They often are more expensive than diamonds! So who would have thought that some of the best sapphires in the world come from America? In fact, the Montana sapphire is recognized as one of the best examples of sapphire the world over. The Yogo Gulch gained notoriety after a disappointed gold-miner sent in some blue pebbles he found to be examined. It turned out that these "disappointing" pebbles were exquisite sapphires! The Yogo Gulch still produces sapphires today!
Other big-time stones can be found in America. In fact, North Carolina has deposits of several precious gems! Rubies and emeralds can be found here. In 2009, a 310 carat emerald crystal was discovered in Alexander County! Rubies (and sapphires) can be found near Asheville.
You can even find diamonds in America! Mines in Colorado and Arkansas were historically operated. Today, you can go to Crater of Diamonds in Arkansas and prospect for your own diamonds! Crater of Diamonds is the only publicly accessible diamond mine in the world. Who knows? You might just strike it big with your very own American diamond!
Native Americans in the Southwest had a rich history of jewelry. Most famous is turquoise jewelry, which today remains synonymous with Native cultures. Large deposits of turquoise in Arizona and neighboring states made turquoise a favorite of the Navajo tribe. Navajo artists were so talented that their jewelry became popular around the world. Today, turquoise jewelry is synonymous with the American southwest.
Pearls are also found in America! Pearls were first found by Native tribes along the Mississippi river. These freshwater pearls were once fairly prevalent. When colonists came to America, they valued the stones they saw the Native Americans wearing and using as currency. American pearls soon became a major export. Overharvesting has made these natural stones rare, but American pearls can still be found at pearl farms in Tennessee.
Tourmaline is a heavy hitter for America! Tourmaline was one of the first stones mined by non-Native Americans. Mines in Maine and California were one of the major sources for tourmaline until Brazilian deposits were discovered. Other stones found in America include peridot, opal, garnet, and jasper.
Some stones that are mined in America are only found here! That's right, America has exclusive stones that you can't get anywhere else.
One of these exclusives is California benitoite. Named for the San Benito River, where it was initially found, benitoite is the state gem of California. It's a beautiful blue stone reminiscent of sapphire. It has a greater dispersion that diamond, meaning that benitoites are both beautiful and eye-catching. Unfortunately, the San Benito mine closed. Although benitoite can be found elsewhere, gem-quality benitoite has not been found outside of California.
Sunstone is another American exclusive. While sunstone itself is not limited to America, there's a specific variety called Oregon sunstone. Sunstone is a feldspar variety that exhibits beautiful colors and a spangled appearance. What makes Oregon sunstone stand out is its inclusion of copper. The copper in Oregon sunstone gives it a beautiful reddish orange color, though some Oregon sunstone also displays green dichroism.
As you celebrate America this Fourth of July, think of the beautiful geology our great country has!
Malak Jewelers is Charlotte, North Carolina’s premier direct diamond importer, supplier of loose diamonds, and custom design jewelry. When you buy from Malak you receive 100 Day Price Protection and a Lifetime Upgrade Promise. Be sure to check out our wide variety of diamond engagement rings both in our online catalogue and at our store in Charlotte, North Carolina's Arboretum Shopping Center.