You may have heard of Herkimer Diamonds, or even seen them set in unique crystal jewelry, but how much do you know about these ancient crystals? Are they real diamonds? What are they made of? Where are Herkimer diamonds found?
Herkimer Diamonds are found in Herkimer County, in upstate New York along the Mohawk river valley. Other similar double-pointed quartz crystals have been found in sites around the world, including China, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Norway, and Arizona.
Are you intrigued by these18-sided gems? While not actually diamonds, they have the allure of a mysterious and rare stone.
What’s more, they come out of the earth cut and polished (unlike diamonds). Read on for all you need to know about how to find Herkimer diamonds.
What are Herkimer Diamonds?
Herkimer Diamonds are clear quartz crystals that are naturally formed in dolomite sedimentary rock. The crystals contain 18 facets and two points, or in other words, a termination point at both ends.
They are sometimes known as double-pointed quartz. The facets will spiral out from around both points and around the middle.
Regular quartz has a point on only one end because it grows on a host rock.
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Where Can I Find Herkimer Diamonds?
Herkimer diamonds were originally found around the Herkimer County area of upstate New York, near the Mohawk River.
The Mohawk people and early white settlers knew about the crystals, finding them in fields and riverbeds.
However, double-point quartz crystals can be found in other sites around the world, including in the countries of China, Afghanistan, Norway, and Ukraine, and in the U.S. in Arizona.
What Rocks are Herkimer Diamonds Found In?
Herkimer rocks are created in dolomite, which was originally formed from calcium and magnesium deposits from the Adirondack mountains. Dolomite is a hard rock that makes mining somewhat difficult (see below).
The crystals form in small cavities, called vugs, that were formed in the rock millions of years ago. The vug creates the perfect place for a crystal to form over time.
For Herkimer diamonds to form with two points, they had to be in protected vugs but also not rely on the surrounding stone for their growth, like most single-pointed quartz.
Can I Mine Herkimer Diamonds?
Yes, you can mine for your own Herkimer diamonds in mines in upstate New York that sell admission for this purpose.
You can also seek permission from local landowners to look for crystals on their land (don’t trespass to hunt for crystals).
You aren’t allowed to mine for crystals on government land.
Many mines are located on New York routes 28 and 29 in Herkimer County. A few good options are Ace of Diamonds Mine, Crystal Grove Diamond Mine and Campground, and Herkimer Diamond Mines.
Each site will charge a fee, give you some tips, and perhaps even rent you some equipment if you are just starting out.
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How Do I Find Herkimer Diamonds?
Getting good (or lucky) at finding Herkimers takes some practice. Most crystals will be found at the site of a vug (or small hole or crevasse) in the dolomite rock. Vugs vary in size and may contain multiple diamonds.
Hammer Some Rock
Once you find a piece of rock with a visible vug, you can break it open with a heavy hammer. Keep in mind this is hard rock, and it will fly everywhere when you are chipping away.
Safety goggles, gloves, and protective clothing are a must.
Scavenge the Quarry Rock Debris
You may also have luck scavenging for diamonds from the rubble along the quarry floor. This will not require as much physical effort, just a good eye. And it might be the best option for small kids.
Pry Open Cavities
Larger operations will use wedges to open up cavities in the stone where large amounts of diamonds might be found. You will need to use wedges to break open small, existing fissures and search for cavities.
A key to this type of work might be having the right equipment–including a range of tools for all sizes and types of fissures.
Multiple Herkimer diamonds can be found in a single cavity, so if you find one, you might hit paydirt!
That said, mining anything takes patience, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t find crystals right away.
Are Herkimer Diamonds Real Diamonds?
No, they are quartz crystals, not diamonds. They most likely got the name diamond because they naturally form 18 facets and two termination points.
For these reasons, they look like cut and polished diamonds, though diamonds require a lot more work to make those facets and points. Herkimer diamonds form them naturally.
Herkimer diamonds register at a 7.5 on the hardness scale, which is fairly hard (diamonds are a 10).
Are Herkimer Diamonds Rare?
Herkimer diamonds are more rare than regular quartz crystals, because they have the unique 2-point design and they are typically very clear or smoky in color.
The double-terminus design of Herkimer diamonds occurs because the crystals do not rely on the underlying host rock to grow, but rather grow in clay deposits.
The process that formed Herkimer diamonds began around 500 million years ago, in a few places on earth. For these reasons, they are considered to be very rare.
Herkimer diamonds are very popular with mineral enthusiasts and gem collectors.
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Are Herkimer Diamonds Valuable?
Compared to real diamonds, no. But compared to other crystals, Herkimer diamonds are somewhat rare and many specimens are considered by gem enthusiasts to be very beautiful.
You can buy a Herkimer diamond engagement ring for under $500.
Many crystals are clear or have a smoky hue, and often have visible inclusions of hydrocarbon, salt water, liquid petroleum, or carbon dioxide.
Some inclusions may also include Calcite, dolomite, pyrite, sphalerite, and other tiny Herkimer diamonds.
Many inclusions make the crystals unique and valuable, though thoroughly included samples may be less desirable since Herkimers are usually so clear.
For some, Herkimers are valued because they provide a glimpse into the formation of the earth millions of years ago.
For others, the crystals carry positive energy. For even more, the unique shape of the crystal is beautiful.
Where Can I Buy Herkimer Diamond Jewelry?
If you don’t feel like digging for your own Herkimer Diamonds, rest assured they are popular enough that jewelry designers are selling them in multiple places.
Check out etsy or Amazon, or even Home Shopping Network (HSN) for Herkimer designs. You can even get them from the source at Little Falls Jewelry Company in Little Falls, Herkimer County.
Are Herkimer Crystals Metaphysical?
According to many who believe in the metaphysical properties of crystals, Herkimer diamonds are considered to be one of the highest-energy gemstones due to their ancient history.
Herkimer diamonds may act as crystal amplifiers–magnifying the energy of surrounding crystals. They are also considered to be attunement stones, which exist in harmony with other types of crystals.
Many believe that their Herkimer diamonds increase mental clarity and dispel negative energy, so many use the Hermiker as a healing crystal.
Do Herkimer Diamonds have value?
Herkimer diamonds are not valued as highly as diamonds or sapphires, though they often fetch a higher price than many other types of quartz or amethyst.
Can a Herkimer Diamond get wet?
Yes–they are mined in places that get frequent rain. Miners actually like it when the rain falls, because it washes off their dusty gems and shows them in their true beauty.
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While not technically diamonds, Herkimer quartz crystals are still in demand for jewelry and display. Some enthusiasts even think their Herkimer diamonds are even prettier than the real thing.
After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Double-pointed quartz can be found in many locations, though “Herkimer diamonds” are only found in Herkimer County, New York.
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