The world has been fascinated with crystals for centuries, and these mineral stones have made a mark on the earth’s history. And numerous options exist for various purposes, each with its unique and exciting properties. Among these stones is the Herkimer diamond, a different material that has found its niche in the hearts of many. But its origin and use are still a question in the minds of many.
Here. We’ll touch on the basics of Herkimer diamonds and expand what it’s all about in detail. We’ll also treat its sources and origins and explore the stone’s geological and gemological attributes. And finally, we’ll compare these crystals with the ones they’re aptly named after and discuss their applications and how you can keep yours in pristine condition.
Herkimer Diamonds- Definition and Origin
A Herkimer diamond, also called a Stone of Attunement, is a quartz crystal commonly mined in the regions of Herkimer County, New York, U.S.A. The stones are renowned for their impressive elongated hexagonal structure and rare occurrence. Herkimer diamonds are also revered for their sparkly properties, ideal for gemological applications. But they also appeal to other uses, including physical and spiritual therapeutic situations, and have existed for 500 million years.
Is it a Diamond?
Before proceeding to its other subtopics, it’s important to stress that Herkimer diamonds aren’t natural diamonds. The term ‘Herkimer diamond’ is a misnomer derived from two factors; the areas it was first discovered and its somewhat diamond-like attributes. Large deposits of the crystals were first picked in the 15th century at the Herkimer County, New York, by the Mohawk tribe and early settlers of the area. And because these stones occurred in vast sediments, they were quickly picked in stream sediments and unearthed when plowing fields.
Herkimer diamonds are, by nature, quartz crystals developed in Cambrian-age host rocks, specifically the Little Falls Dolostones. These rocks accumulated around 500 million years ago, and the crystals formed in their cavities. Clusters of drusy quartz crystals lined these cavities, which were commonly coated with a tarry hydrocarbon. And the physical appearance and crystal structure of the stones earned it the name ‘Herkimer diamonds,’ making them popular among the region’s people to date.
Herkimer diamonds were first made famous by their name, derived from the U.S. County it was first found. But the stones are also discovered in numerous other regions globally. You’ll find similar doubly-terminated quartz crystals in places including Arizona, Ukraine, China, Germany, Afghanistan, Canada, England, and Norway. And while they share an almost identical resemblance with the Herkimer diamonds, they aren’t generally termed so since the title is unique to crystals found in the named region.
The quartz crystals are also referred to by many other names, includingMiddleville Diamond and Little Falls Diamond in the New York environs. But overall, the term ‘Herkimer diamonds’ is considered a generic term for all stones found in these regions.
Properties of Herkimer Diamonds
Herkimer diamonds display numerous distinct properties and are popular among mineralogists and crystal enthusiasts. And below, we’ll explore these various areas to learn more about these quartz stones.
These crystals are first renowned for their unique structure, as they exhibit an impressive doubly terminated form. And though the stones exhibit the typical hexagonal form common with quartz, it also further offers two terminations instead of one. This attribute is due to its peculiar growth nature, as Herkimer diamonds developed with little to no contact with their host rocks. It also gives the crystals a more extended form than their regular one-faceted quartz counterparts.
Herkimer diamonds are chemically classified as silicates since their build material comprises Silicon and Oxygen compounds. They also feature a specific gravity of 2.6 to 2.7 and rank a seven on the Mohs hardness scale. The stones also possess a conchoidal fracture, apparent in the crystal structure. And you’ll find most of them with up to 18 facets and the perfect specimens measuring less than one inch in total length.
Herkimer diamonds also offer specific attributes which make them appealing for gemological purposes. And these factors are also why the stones were named after natural diamonds. The mineral crystals are transparent, though this can still range from colorless to smoky. But the high-quality options are most revered for their superb brilliance when held under natural light.
The crystals are also admired for their impressive clarity, but many specimens come with impurities. You’ll find Herkimer diamonds with mineral inclusions, air bubbles, and carbon deposits. The mineral inclusions may include calcites, pyrite, dolomite, and sphalerite. And the carbon deposits may range from gaseous carbon dioxide to liquid petroleum and solid hydrocarbons.
The unique shape of Herkimer diamonds is mainly because the stones grow in clay deposits, and it’s also why the crystals don’t always occur in similar designs. You may find some stones housing remnants of decayed plants. And others may occur as rare forms of enhydro crystals exhibiting captured water bubbles in their structure. Some Herkimer diamonds may also contain anthraxolite, black pieces that resemble coal, or may turn up as enhydro crystals containing anthraxolite in their bubble. And in rare situations, phantom crystals and twin skeletal clusters are discovered.
Mining Herkimer Diamonds
Numerous places exist for mining Herkimer diamonds, but some of the best options are dug in the New York regions. You’ll find rich deposits of these crystals near Middleville, along the State Routes 28 and 29. Of course, some of these places are government-owned, making it illegal to mine Herkimer diamonds in them. And he privately-owned properties can’t be entered and dug without special permission from the owner.
Still, you’ll find numerous commercial mines for Herkimer diamonds in these routes, including Crystal Grove Diamond Mine and Campground, Ace of Diamonds Mine, and Herkimer Diamond Mines. Here, visitors can enter and collect the crystals for a stipulated fee. And they’re also offered mining tools and equipment for rent, including wedges, rock hammers, and other items.
Mining Herkimer diamonds require basic knowledge regarding how to find them, and the first step is recognizing that these stones grow in vugs or cavities inside Little Falls Dolostone. If you’re lucky, you’ll find the Dolostone exposed above the ground with a good amount of broken rock scattered on the floor, especially at mines in the New York state routes. And you can mine the Herkimer diamonds in these places in different ways, like the ones below;
Scavenging Because, the quarry floor of most mines, is scattered with loose rock, you could search through them, hoping to pick a Herkimer diamond. This scavenging method involves enthusiasts sifting through the rubble on the ground to find loose stones. And if the floor has a decent amount of loose rock, finding Herkimer diamonds in them can be pretty high. This method is also the safest and most accessible, plus it makes mineral collecting more fun for kids.
Find and Break
Sometimes, you may have to go further than the above method, especially in a quarry where the floor doesn’t cover much loose rock. So, instead, you’ll have to scout for rocks with a cavity and bust them open with a hammer. While this method may sound tasking, it’s surprisingly one of the easiest ways to mine Herkimer diamonds. And it’s an excellent suggestion for those who like to take their time while collecting mineral rocks.
Of course, you’ll need a few pointers before delving into the ‘find and break’ mining method. For one, expect to break lots of rocks to find a Herkimer diamond, as some vugs may not contain these crystals. An excellent way to increase your chance of finding one is to search for rocks with vugs on the outside, as this can mean there are more cavities within.
Secondly, note that Dolostone is quite challenging, so you’ll need a bit of effort to break it open. The location where these rocks are found is heavily silicified, making the rocks extra hard. You’ll also need to dress safely in gloves, cautionary glasses or safety goggles, a long-sleeved shirt, and jeans or long jeans pants of challenging material. These are necessary because you’ll have small pieces of the Dolostonethat can fly as you break them and can bruise or cut exposed parts of your body.
If you’re a hardcore Herkimer diamonds collector, you may need to up your search game by looking for cavities. Here, the goal is to discover large cavities in the quarry walls and floors, and when you do, bust through them with wedges and a sledgehammer. One way to successfully do this is by finding visible fractures around these cavities, then positioning the wedge in them and breaking through with the sled hammer. And this process is continued on the released chunks until they’re small enough to carry out the quarry.
The cavity-finding method of mining Herkimer diamonds requires patience and the right tools. And apart from the wedges and sledgehammers, you’ll also need prybars to pull the loose chunks of rocks free from the cavity after breaking through the fractures. And while the method sounds tasking, it can be the most rewarding with cases where a released dolostone produces thousands of high-quality Herkimer diamonds of ranging sizes in a single cavity. And the catch may include single crystals, double, and clusters.
Uses of Herkimer Diamonds
It’s one thing to enjoy mining Herkimer diamonds, but these stones are also revered for many other reasons. And here, we’ll explore the numerous uses for Herkimer diamonds and why you should consider picking one.
Though Herkimer diamonds aren’t natural diamonds, these quartz stones still feature numerous jewelry applications. They’re also measured in carat weight like diamonds, though they don’t come at such high prices as the natural stones. The crystal’s quality is also rated using the 4Cs, same as diamonds, meaning the price difference of various Herkimer diamonds can significantly vary. But in most cases, Herkimer diamonds are employed for jewelry due to their varying clarity, brilliance, cut, and unique natural facets.
For Mineral Rock Collecting
If you’re an avid collector of rock minerals, you’ll like some specimens of Herkimer diamonds in your catalog. These stones are unique, and numerous mines containing their deposits have quickly grown into tourist spots and exhibitions. And some high-quality specimens of these crystals can fetch a hefty price, so the stones are highly sought by mineral collectors all over. And because of their numerous designs, you’re guaranteed the thrill of unearthing a unique crystal every time you crack a dolostone.
Proposed Healing Capacities
Some believe Herkimer diamonds contain unique properties, so the stones are employed for holistic purposes. The early settlers and Mohawk people of the New York regions employed these stones as amulets for numerous benefits. And today, these purposes are still explored, with claims that the stones can help in physical, emotional, spiritual, chakra, connective, and romantic energies.
Its various uses in these scopes range from pain remedy to toxin purification, balancing emotional harmony, connecting with spiritual domains, and chakra clearing. Other uses of the stones for healing purposes include curing romantic traumas, linking people, releasing body tensions, stimulating immune defenses, correcting the body’s metabolic imbalance, clearing the mind, and activating the body’s ‘Third Eye.’
A popular way to use Herkimer diamonds is to keep one under your pillow before bed. Some may also store the crystals in their purses or pockets as they daily lives. In some cases, you’ll find people attaching Herkimer diamonds to necklaces that work as protective and purifying talismans. Sometimes, the stones combine with other similar gems renowned for amplifying their properties. Good examples of such crystals include pink kunzite, scolecite, phenacite, azeztulite, natrolite, angel aura quartz, tiffany stones, celestite, and moldavite.
Where to Buy Herkimer Diamonds?
You can purchase Herkimer diamonds at antique stores and jewelry shops both off and online. And these places will offer you information regarding selected stones, including where they were mined and their distinct attributes. But it also helps to note that Herkimer diamonds aren’t as pricey as natural diamonds, especially when buying them as jewelry. And while some stones can cost a fortune, the average price for these crystals is around $75.
When buying Herkimer diamonds, it’s important to note what is sold to you. Some retailers may be tempted to present them as natural diamonds- a move considered illegal. It would help if you always asked for certification and documentation when purchasing Herkimer diamonds. In these papers, you’ll find the stone’s color classification, cut, clarity, and carat weight inscribed and approved by an established gemological institute.
Caring for Herkimer Diamonds
Herkimer diamonds may not be as valuable as natural diamonds, but it helps to keep them in pristine conditions if you want them to last long. Ensure to clean the stones regularly, so they sparkle and shine are prolonged. Also, prevent as much wear and tear by avoiding rigorous activities when wearing your Herkimer diamond. And abstain from exposing the crystals to chlorinated water or harsh chemicals from dishwashing or laundry.
Herkimer diamonds are easy to clean and require warm water and mild soap. You’ll also need a clean cloth or soft toothbrush to rub the surface during cleaning. Stay away from harsh detergents and hard scrubbing when cleaning the crystals. And avoid washing the stones in an ultrasonic cleaner, as the environment can easily damage the crystal.
Herkimer diamonds are attractive crystals for both mineral collectors and jewelers. But not everyone understands what these diamond mimics comprise. You need detailed information about how Herkimer diamonds exist and where they can be found. This way, you can understand how they’re priced, used, and catered for, so you can decide the best way to employ these double-terminated quartz crystals.