Mining for Herkimer Diamonds

Wow, what a weekend! We just returned from a four-day mining and camping trip in Herkimer County, New York. Herkimer is home to famous Herkimer Diamonds, which are beautifully clear, naturally faceted, double-terminated quartz crystals. Here are the most perfect ones we brought back with us...they came directly from the Earth just like this, perfectly clear with those amazing flat sides and perfect angles. How incredible!!!

Here's a closeup of two crystals, so you can see how remarkable they really are.

It started off a very rainy weekend, but we were happy to be there. We had a really beautiful campsite in the woods where we thankfully came prepared for rain. 

We stayed dry at our campsite, but it was a different story at the mine. We were mining at the Boston Mineral Club's new claim (a small parcel of property to which you own the mineral rights). The claim is in Fonda, New York, and was acquired last year. This was our first trip to the new claim, though we had visited this location on our honeymoon in 2011. Back then, we could only mine where it was open to the public, a small hill on the 15-acre property. Having access to the private claim is certainly a benefit to being a member of the BMC. Though we had hoped for nice weather, on Friday afternoon and Saturday it just poured the whole can see how muddy it (and I) was! The mud makes it trickier to see the Herks, but we still had some luck.

I decided to dig down deep for awhile, to try to get below the first layer of rock, called Barren Rock, trying to get deeper to layers that contain more Herkimer Diamond crystals. 

Back at the campsite, we were completely covered in mud from the mine, and we tried not to get it on all of our camping gear! Btw, always wear steel-toed boots while mining to protect your tootsies from falling rocks.

The next day, the weather was absolutely gorgeous and we were very thankful. The sun really makes a difference in finding Herkimers in the dirt and especially the mud, since it causes the Herks to glint, which always catches your eye. My favorite mining partner Jared started off the day with this big find in the picture below.

Herkimer Diamonds can be found lying in the dirt, but they can also be found in little pockets in rocks. Jared cracked open the rock below in which there was a pocket, about an inch across, containing an absolutely perfect little double terminated Herkimer Diamond crystal. 

It had been growing there for at least 500 million years, and we were the first to set eyes upon the crystal. So amazing. By growing in that pocket, the crystal was perfectly protected and had no damage to any of the facet junctions from being pushed around under the soil. Here's a closeup of the crystal in the pocket. It's so perfect and clear that it's hard to see in the photograph, since you can see right through it like glass!

Right before we were leaving on the last day of the trip, we found an open space underneath a thick layer of rock, so I just had to investigate! With the aid of my headlamp, I was actually able to look underneath. Unfortunately, it wasn't a pocket filled with Herks, but we did find a few little ones while digging in that area. It was fun to look under this huge layer of rock!

I love looking for is a really special experience and I am always so happy to be there. I'm so thankful for these opportunities. Soon, I will use some of the Herkimer Diamonds we mined in some new pieces of jewelry paired with recycled precious metals. I'm glad that I can share the beautiful gifts of the Earth with others and hopefully they will inspire a more respectful relationship with the Earth.

As our last day of mining drew to a close, Jared wheeled our wagon filled with tools out of the claim deep in the woods. Of course, we were sad to leave. But it's wonderful to know that we can return at any time! 



Laurie Lynn Berezin
Laurie Lynn Berezin


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