|By: David Cowley|
Herkimer diamonds are double terminated quartz crystals that are found in Herkimer County, New York, hence the name. These crystals have usually have a shape that is very similar to diamonds with 18 facets and two terminators or points at the end. These beautiful gemstones were formed close to five hundred million years ago. They are formed extremely slowly in pockets of rock and can be clear or cloudy in color and may be found in a verity of colors depending on the impurities present in the crystal.
These quarts crystals range in size from microscopic to over eight inches long and three to four inches wide and in rare cases even larger. The best gem quality crystals are usually found in the one half inch to one inch range and will have excellent clarity, which is the reason they are nicknamed diamonds. As the crystals become larger in size they tend to become less clear.
Herkimer diamonds are naturally faceted and have a hardness rating of 7 where diamonds have a hardness of 10 and it must be cut to give it smooth faces and the traditional diamond like shape.
How are they formed?
Millions of years ago calcium magnesium carbonate was deposited on the ocean floor. As more and more of the sediments were deposited on the ocean floor the calcium magnesium carbonate and other minerals was compress into a rock strata called Dolostone which is quite similar to limestone. Cracks can develop in the dolostone and then sea water will dissolve part of the rock leaving pockets where the quarts crystals form. Pockets can contain from 1 to thousands of these quarts crystals of all sizes. These pockets usually range in size from ½ inch to six feet in diameter.
Many of the crystal prospectors believe that they contain metaphysical properties. They are believed to be able to activate your third eye and enhance the dreaming state. When worn they may bring about a greater access to your psychic abilities.
At Herkimer Diamond Mine located in Herkimer County, New York, you can purchase an all-day prospecting ticket for around $10. Prospectors can dig through the rubble near the mine area and break open rocks looking for the Herkimer diamond deposits. Common tools used for prospecting are a 2 to 3 pound hammer, chisel, crowbar, safety glasses, gloves, 5 gallon bucket with water and some type of hoe or rake to move the piles of broken rock around. Basic tools can be supplied by the mine staff with proper identification. Visit the Herkimer diamond web site for current hours of operations and prices.
Up to 500 people a day from all around the world may visit the mine to prospect. Hunting for Herkimer diamonds is great fun and a lot of hard work. If you are lucky your will find a large pocket of crystal within the quarry walls. One or more of the diamonds may be found by searching the rock rubble near the quarry walls scattered across the quarry floor with little or no effort. Another common prospect method is to select and break open a rock with a heavy hammer and look for a cavity with crystals imbedded within.
Happy treasure hunting.