Montana Sapphires: Gems from North America
North America is not rich in sapphire deposits and most of the world's sapphires come from various countries in Asia such as Thailand, Burma, or Sri Lanka. However, Montana in the United States has enough sapphires to sustain several major mining operations and develop a world wide reputation. Though perhaps not as popular as other locations, Montanan sapphires boast many unique qualities that some find very desirable.
4 Major Locations
The 4 major locations Montanan sapphires are mined are:
- Rock Creek
- Missouri River
- Dry Cottonwood Creek
- Yogo Gulch
Yogo sapphires are often very expensive and desired due to their purplish blue color. Unfortunately they also tend to be very small as they are often found in thin shards. They rarely come larger than 1 carat and prices skyrocket as the size goes up.
The other 3 locations all produce stones similar to each other, and that is a very wide assortment of gorgeous colors often a little lighter or more pastel-like. These locations tend to give larger stones but even then sapphires over 3 carats are fairly rare. All sorts of colors can be found such as blue, green, purple, pink, yellow, orange, or even colorless.
Generally speaking it is difficult for Montanan mining operations to be very successful in mining as the labor costs in the United States far exceed those in the more dominant sapphire areas of Asia. However, there have been and continue to be some who are able to stay in business dealing with Montanan sapphires. Although Montanan sapphires still tend to be hard to come by, even in Montana.
Mining Your Own Sapphires While in Montana
There are some locations in Montana that carry already screened and concentrated bags of gravel with rough sapphires in them. People can purchase these bags and then proceed to dig through them using tools provided by these companies and search for their own sapphires. This activity is popular for tourists visiting Montana, and particularly enjoyable for kids. Not finding sapphires in a bag offered by these companies is almost unheard of, instead it's a matter of finding a big one or one nice enough to cut. In fact, most guarantee that you find at least some sapphires. Most of these companies offer cutting services where they can cut the stone you find for a fee. You can then make a sapphire jewelry piece using a Montanan sapphire you found yourself.
Montanan Sapphire Jewelry
Though not incredibly popular, many people thoroughly enjoy the unique look of a Montanan sapphire. Furthermore, many buyers like to own products made specifically in the United States. Mining in Montanan also is very environmentally and socially friendly. Strict standards prevent mining operations from doing too much damage to the beautiful natural Montanan environment. Also, workers are not abused and there is no violence in Montanan mining operations. This also draws people into purchasing Montanan sapphire jewelry as they know they will own a conflict-free product. All this combined makes Montanan sapphire jewelry a distinct product that jewelry wearers consider to be differentiated from other jewelry products on the market.
Other Gemstones in Montana
Besides sapphires, Montana has produced many various types of semi-precious gemstones such as quartz, alexandrite, agates, and amethyst. Also, Montanan produces garnets which can come in a pinkish hue or even a dark deep red that many find to be absolutely stunning. These other gemstones are often very desirable for cheaper jewelry pieces, rock collections, and mementos for visits to Montana. You simply never know what you might just stumble across in Montana, a sapphire, a semi-precious gemstone, or even precious metals such as silver, gold, and platinum.