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A day of collecting Herkimer Diamonds

Updated on December 17, 2016

Herkimer Diamonds

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The big Herkimer Diamond quartz crystalOne half of the large rock.You can see the crystalsanother view of the crystalscloseup of pocket with Herkimer Diamond crystals
The big Herkimer Diamond quartz crystal
The big Herkimer Diamond quartz crystal | Source
One half of the large rock.You can see the crystals
One half of the large rock.You can see the crystals | Source
another view of the crystals
another view of the crystals | Source
closeup of pocket with Herkimer Diamond crystals
closeup of pocket with Herkimer Diamond crystals | Source

A day of crystal hunting

Here in New York state we have several fee collecting sites where you can collect Herkimer Diamonds.Herkimer Diamonds are quartz crystals which have a natural beauty that equals that of a real cut diamond.They have been known for their beauty since prehistory and where collected by native Americans.They are a sought after crystal by mineral collectors,jewelry makes and those who practice the healing arts.Quartz crystals grow like these only here in New York.

A great place to collect Herkimer Diamonds is at Crystal Grove Mine in St Johnsville New York.For a 10 fee you can collect all day.Here is a story of one trip I took early this year.

On the road at 7 am heading out to St Johnsville NY.This usually takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes from my home.I arrived right about 8:30am and signed in at the office and payed for a days collecting.I drove over to the main collecting area and there were already several people collecting.My tools were all packed in the truck of my car.I loaded up my five gallon pails with a hammer,chisels and some newspaper.I brought these down to the collecting area.I saw that there were several large rocks that had been removed from the working face of the quarry area.This is always a good sight to see.There could be some nice Herkimer Diamonds in these rocks.Not far away was a young man who was working the wall of the quarry.He seemed to know what he was doing.We introduced ourselves and chatted for a bit.He told me that some collectors had left the large rocks and that they had found some good crystals in the quarry wall.After a bit of talking I went back to the car to get my 12lb sledge hammer.I went down into the quarry and bought the sledge,and all of my equipment.I started working on one of two large rocks that were there.This rock was very hard to break and it took me about 30 minutes to break it into pieces.I only found one good crystal inside of this rock.after a short break and talking with the young man about collecting.He was very curious about why I was breaking up the large rocks.I told him that you can very often find Herkimer Diamonds in these large rocks that are left in the quarry after collectors break them away from the face of the quarry.In fact I have no idea why any collector leaves these rocks after breaking them off the wall?Maybe they are to hard to break,or maybe the collectors are just looking for large pockets with large crystals?Anyhow I soon had another person interested in what I was doing.So on to the other large rock.I started breaking off sections when I noticed a crack going through and around the entire rock.This rock was about 2 feet by 2 feel in all dimensions.So I decided to break it slowly with a small drill hammer and chisels.I drove a small chisel into the crack and it soon started to open up the crack.The whole rock suddenly split right in half.Inside were several pockets with large 1/2"to 1"crystals in them.I was amazed at this and so were the other two who were watching me do this.Both of them wanted to see the crystals and wanted to know more about how to collect.They were asking me how I knew the rock had crystals in it.I told them I did not know for certain but that it is often the case.I decided to take both of the halves home to keep.Each one had several nice pockets with crystals in them.Better to take them home and work on them slowly.So I carried each rock up to the car and placed them in the truck.

Well the two men wanted to know all kinds of things and I tried to answer everything they asked about collecting.They soon went back to there collecting and so did I.I soon found another large rock which was about 4 foot x 5 foot,usually to large to work on,but it had a large hole in it and I did have my spring steel with me.So I went up to the car and got my steel to try to crack this rock with.I invited the two collectors to watch and to learn how to break these big rocks.Soon one of them was helping me.We just kept on placing steel in the hole and hitting them with the 12lb sledge.Soon we had five springs in the hole and the rock started to crack.After placing steel number six in the hole the rock cracked right through and one side crashed down to the ground.I could see two large pockets.I did not see any crystals at first.I bent down to look on the ground and there was a large two inch Herkimer Diamond laying on the ground under one of the pockets.I picked it up and showed the others.They were just amazed by the size.I found one smaller crystal and gave it to the man who helped me.He was happy as all get out.We continued to break the rock up into smaller pieces to see if more crystals were inside.There were only two other small crystals in the whole thing.It took a lot of time and work to break it all up.Soon it was time to leave.I had some nice crystals to show for that day of collecting.And those two collectors learned a bit about how to go about collecting.

Herkimer Diamond Area

Tool tips

I have to give a tip on rock hammers here.The best rock hammer for collecting are brick hammer type.They have a nice chisel point end.You can use a brick hammer as a chisel buy strike the head with another hammer,also the wide chisel end can be used to dig in dirt.I find this type of hammer works better then the sharp points on geology picks.

A note about chisels.Most people who do a lot of Herkimer Diamond collecting use sharpened steel car springs.They last a long time and hold up better then chisels bought at the hardware store.You can use them in cracks to break up big rocks by inserting several side by side until they create enough pressure to crack the rock open.

Crystal Grove Diamond Mine and Campground

Crystal Grove Diamond Mine and Campground:
161 Co Rd 114, St Johnsville, NY 13452, USA

get directions

Herkimer Diamond Mines

There are several Herkimer Diamond Mines in New York State.Two exist side by side in Middleville NY.The Ace of Diamonds Mine and the Herkimer Diamond Mine.There are also two mines in Fonda N Y.Diamond Acres and Hickory Hill Mine.These mines are all fee collecting sites.

Smokey crystal from Fonda

New York


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    • glowingrocks profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New York

      Thank you for taking notice.This time of the year a rock shop is best for seeing nice crystals and gems.Too snowy and cold for outside prospecting.As for the writing will do.

    • Scribenet profile image


      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Interesting account for finding gems in rocks! I don't rock hunt, but I enjoy looking at and reading about the multitude of beautiful rocks and gems in many colors that are found all over the world.

      There is a small mineral shop in Toronto, Ontario, I must visit again to browse through the collection...because the stones are lovely all polished up and some set into jewelery!

      Please write more on the different gems! Thank you for this Hub!


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