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Family company of mineralogists and gemologists specializing in gems, minerals and jewelry from all around the world.

10 Facts about Herkimer Diamonds

09th August 2017 by Elena Petrova

We have just acquired the largest collection of Herkimers we have ever had, and wanted to share some interesting facts about this wonderful stone.

Working last week at the biggest gem and mineral Show in Canada in Bancroft, Ontario, we were lucky to have the first selection of the years' finds from miners, who collect Herkimer diamonds directly from mine since early 1990s.  We accrued an amazing collection of exceptionally clear, doubly terminated - and sparkling like real diamonds - crystals of different sizes, some clusters of 2-3 crystals grown together, and a few top-quality clusters with more than 10 small and large crystals intergrown, and all intact.  Also we purchased one of a kind collection of Herkimer diamond jewellery with uncut and unpolished crystals in silver wire (pendants and earring) and sterling silver rings.  If you would like to see our new Herkimer diamond collection, please visit our online stores and Mineral Gallery in Toronto.

 

Herkimer Diamond crystals

 

Top 10 cool facts about Herkimer Diamonds:

 

1         Herkimer Diamonds" is the name given to the unique form of quartz crystal found in Herkimer County, New York and surrounding areas. Most of them are brilliant, water-clear crystals show the classic 18-sided, doubly terminated hexagonal form ( result of the crystals growing with very little or no contact with their host rock, they are doubly terminated).

 

2         The geological history of Herkimer diamonds is an intriguing one that begins at the bottom of a shallow sea about 495 million years ago. The material that would later form the crystals was deposited as a waxy organic material along with quartz sand and masses of pyrite. All of this was encased in a rock made up of two carbonate minerals: dolomite and calcite. Sediments slowly buried the rock and its temperature rose. As a result, molecules that had been holding quartz dissolved from the sand in solution were broken apart by thermal splitting. This caused the quartz to come out of solution very slowly and resulted in the growth of quartz crystals of exceptional clarity. (Michael R. Walter).

 

3         Inclusions that provide clues to the origins of the Herkimer diamonds are solids (hydrocarbon materials are the most common. They range from small eye-visible particles down to micron-size particles, which, when abundant, can impart a smoky color to the crystals), liquids (salt water or petroleum), gases (most common carbon dioxide).  Calcite, dolomite, pyrite, sphalerite and quartz (often in the form of tiny Herkimer Diamonds) are typical  mineral inclusions.

 

4         The Herkimer Diamonds of New York are not a recent discovery. The Mohawk Indians knew about the crystals. They found them in stream sediments and plowed fields. These people were amazed with the crystals and immediately held them in high esteem. They used the crystals as amulets, used them to make tools, and traded them with other tribes. They began to lose interest in the crystals when European glass beads began to arrive in the early 1600s.

 

5         Although Herkimer County, New York is the location for which these crystals are named, similar doubly terminated quartz crystals have been found in many other locations, including Hungary, France, Italy, Canada, Pakistan, China and others. They have the same appearance but cannot rightfully be called "Herkimers."

 

6         Sometimes the single crystals can get quite large, but when they do they are heavily fractured, with the field name "goonie".    The maximum size for an unfactured single crystalappears to be 4 cm tip-to-tip, although no official information can be confirmed. To be  a perfect Herkimer diamond is not just about clarity but about form.  Range of color of Herkimer diamonds : clear, white, smoky, champagne, golden and golden-red.

 

7         The name “Herkimer Diamonds” is a misnomer (A misnomer is a name that is intentionally or inadvertently incorrect. It is incorrect because the crystals called “Herkimer Diamonds” are quartz crystals rather than diamond crystals ) and has been used for over 100 years and is deeply  engrained in the language of local people as well as the rock and mineral community. The word “diamond” grabs attention and may imply a higher value to the person who hears it than the word “quartz.” As a result, some people might be misled or confused by the name “Herkimer diamond.”

 

8      Some of the best places to find Herkimer Diamonds today are located along New York          State Routes 28 and 29 near Middleville, New York. (When visiting this area it is important to remember that all land in New York either belongs to the government or is private property. Collecting minerals from government lands is illegal in New York, and collecting on private property always requires permission in advance.)  There are several commercial mines on New York State Routes 28 and 29. These    include    Ace of Diamonds Mine, Herkimer Diamond Mines, and Crystal Grove Diamond Mine and Campground. These mines allow collectors to enter and prospect for a nominal fee. These locations also rent equipment such as rock hammers, wedges, and other small tools. They also have small exhibit areas where you can view and/or purchase specimens.

 

9   Nice Herkimer Diamonds are highly prized mineral specimens and every mineral collector from all world wish to have them.  Also Herkimer crystals are very popular to use in jewelry because they have sparkling clarity of diamond and their natural beauty.

 

10  Because the first discovery sites were in the village of Middleville and in the city of Little Falls respectively, the crystal is also known as a Middleville diamond or a Little Falls diamond.

 

 

References

  1. “Herkimer Diamonds”.  Geology.com
  2. Book Review: Collector’s Guide to Herkimer Diamonds
  3. mindat.org/min
  4. herkimerhistory.com