In our final segment about gems found throughout the United States, we'll be taking a look at the central western region. This area (with the exception of South Dakota) is highly mountainous, providing a great environment for gems to flourish. What's better than a 'rock' to commemorate your time there?
If you are looking to get rid of your laziness or cure insomnia, this beautiful blue stone is for you. As far back as ancient Greece, aquamarine was thought to be an especially powerful gem associated with water, but it was also thought to be beneficial on land as a force to provide a long and happy marriage.
High quality aquamarine can be found both on Mount Antero and White Mountain. Colorado jewelers that incorporate this gem into their designs warn against cleaning aquamarine jewelry ultrasonically or with steam. They strongly suggest only using warm soapy water.
There are only two places in the entire world where star garnets can be found: India and Idaho. The spectacular star phenomenon in this gem is caused by a sufficient amount of rutile being present in the stone. Four-ray stars are more common, so of course garnets with a six-ray star are the most valuable.
On your next trip to Idaho, make sure that you visit the Emerald Creek Garnet Area. You can purchase a permit and search for your own in the garnet-bearing gravels. You put what you take into sluice boxes to see if you are lucky enough to find one of these precious gems.
Montana sapphires come in a variety of colors, but the best known are the denim blue Montana sapphires. Since they were first discovered in the late 1800s on a gravel bar in the Missouri River, they have been treasured for their remarkable color and brilliance.
Like in Idaho, you can try your hand at finding your own Montana sapphires at the Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine. There you can purchase sapphire-rich buckets of gravel and wash them there or take it to go. If you're not in the mood to get dirty, there are plenty of jewelry shops around.
The traditional "holly pattern" and parallel bands are how to tell a true Fairburn agate. If you have a Fairburn agate with bright colors and narrow bands, then you have an extremely valuable gem. Traditionally used as tools and weapons, this stone now makes for stunning jewelry.
The best sites to collect Fairburn agate are closely guarded secrets among gem hunters in the area. However, if you are set on finding your own, the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands are a great place to start. If you don't have any luck, make sure to check out jewelry stores in Sioux Falls.
Thought to be some of the finest jade in the world, Wyoming nephrite jade can be found in the Granite Mountains. First discovered by a non-Native American in 1936, this jade varies in color from the rare off-white to black and almost every shade of green imaginable. You might also come across "snowflake" jade, which is a mixture of green and white.
While nephrite jade is both a tough and hard stone, it is easy to carve, which is why so many jewelry designers in the area favor it. Native Americans believe that jade brings emotional, physical and intellectual peace. It's not uncommon to find nephrite jade with carvings that speak to this perceived property.
Whether you choose to hunt and sift for gems to later turn into jewelry or buy ready-made pieces from local jewelry designers, the central western United States is rich with amazing stones. No matter where you go in this area, you're sure to find beautiful pieces to add to your jewelry box.