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Herkimer Diamonds

by Dana Ward on Apr 27, 2009 0

What do you get when you combine Herkimer Diamonds with a weekend getaway?  The answer is a great mini-vacation with the chance to find treasure!

herkimer diamondsHerkimer Diamonds can be found in Herkimer County, New York, USA.  Technically they are not actually diamonds.  These gems are actually a quartz crystal.  Regular quartz crystals have a hexagonal termination point.

What Makes Herkimer Diamonds Different?

Herkimer crystals are different from regular crystals in that both ends of the Herkimer crystals have the hexagonal termination point.

This happens because the way the crystals form in within their host rock (loose) rather than attached to the host rock.  There is some contact with the host rock but not like the traditional quartz crystals.  This phenomenon adds to the fun of prospecting for Herkimer Diamonds.

Because the crystals are formed inside pockets of the host rock, when the host rock is broken, sometimes the perfectly formed “diamond” just rolls out of the rock.  But be careful – sometimes they can go off with the debris when you smash the rocks!

I like this fact because it adds to the chance of finding a Herkimer Diamond just by looking on the ground or within some loose dirt.  They come out of the rock faceted and shiny.  There may be some dust or mud on them; rub them, or wash them with a little soap and water and you will have a beautiful specimen to cherish.  I know it is hard to believe, but that is also why you should experience this for yourself.

There are two famous mines where you can prospect for Herkimer Diamonds.  The mines are open seasonally, roughly from April 15 through November 1st.  Herkimer Diamond Mines and the Ace of Diamonds Mine were both featured on the Travel Channel’s program, “Cash and Treasure.”  When the host, Kirsten Gum visited these two mines their popularity and number of visitors in a season grew a lot.

Where to Stay when mining for Herkimer Diamonds

The Herkimer Diamond Mines is owned by Dr. Renee Scialdo Shevat.  The Ace of Diamonds Mine is owned by Ted Smith.  These two open to the public mines are within a few hundred yards of each other, but are quite different in atmosphere.  Both mines have great prospecting, and your chances of hitting it big are equal, in my opinion.  However, where they are different is in the amenities.  The Herkimer Diamond Mines is much more family friendly.  The public facilities are larger.

Also, the Herkimer Diamond Mines has a museum and offers educational programs that include sluicing for gems, fossils, as well as Herkimer Diamonds.  There is a lunch stand on site as well as a KOA Kampgrounds.  The campground facilities offer space to pitch a tent, plug in a camper or motor home, and offer cabins and cottages.  The cottages have a separate bedroom, and bathroom with shower, kitchen with a double electric burner stove, microwave, and full refrigerator.  Also, the kottages have heat and air conditioning.

The front of the kottages has a porch and a swing.  In front of each Kottage is a picnic table, barbeque grill, and fire pit.  It is a lovely setting and makes for the perfect ending to a fun day hunting for treasure.  The proximity to the actual mines where the public can prospect makes it an even better choice for where to stay when treasure hunting for Herkimer Diamonds.

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