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What Kind Of Minerals and Crystals Can Be Found In Ohio?

Ohio Fluorite
Calcite celestite Pugh Quarry, Custar, Ohio

Calcite and celestite crystals from Ohio

If you live in Ohio and want to get rich finding Emeralds then forget it. Your best bet for that is to move to the Asheville, NC. Our state just doesn’t have the Geology necessary for that sort of gemstone to be present. It’s true people do find gold and diamonds (six of those have been found in Ohio, not including those found in jewelry stores) in Ohio, but those are travelers that arrived courtesy of glaciers and deposited in glacial sedimentary deposits.

But just because you can’t fill a jewelry shop from our geology doesn’t mean that Ohio isn’t rich in crystal treasure. Our state is blessed with minerals that are used industrially and helped turn the state into an Industrial powerhouse. It also is a source of beautiful minerals perfect for a collection or as a display piece (Celestite, I am looking at you!) And don’t get me started talking about fossils! Cincinnati is famous for its rich troves of Ordovician era fossils on the Cincinnati Arch. You know where to go if you want a Trilobite.

Since most locals aren’t aware of our state’s Geology, let alone that we have a geology, or if we have one, where somebody may have misplaced it, how much it’s worth and whether you can trade it to rent Top Gun: Maverick on Amazon, we are presenting a curated list of the crystals and minerals found in the Buckeye state.

Photo credit for image above: Photo By James St. John – https://www.flickr.com/photos/47445767@N05/33229612163/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=96284794

Calcite

Calcite crystals Gibraltar Island Lake Erie Ohio

Sunlit Silurian calcite from Put-in-Bay in Ohio on Lake Erie.

Photo By James St. John – https://www.flickr.com/photos/47445767@N05/50588186197/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=96284996

Calcite is found throughout Ohio in different forms as granular aggregates in black shale in eastern and central Ohio, and as crystal and granular aggregates in Western Ohio.

The name calcite comes from a Greek word meaning lime. This comes from its chemical component, Calcium Carbonate, which sometimes is mistakenly known as “lime.” Calcite is known in more than 300 forms of crystals. The scalenohedral crystals of Calcite, one of its most common varieties, ordinarily are known as “dogtooth spar” or “dogtooth calcite” because of their resemblance to a dog’s canine tooth. Another variety, transparent rhombohedral calcite, is used in optical equipment. Although they are not specific varieties of calcite, stalactites, stalagmites and other formations found in caverns are made of calcite.

Calcite is one of the most common minerals, making up about 4% by weight of the Earth’s crust. Calcite is common as vein fillings in many rocks in western and central Ohio. Silurian dolomites in northwestern Ohio yield clusters of large crystals ranging from clear to dark brown. Many have a golden color.

Crystals and granular aggregates in cavities and fractures of dolostones and limestones in western Ohio; granular aggregates commonly form veins in dolostone concretions and less commonly in ironstone concretions from black shales in central and eastern Ohio; more rare as an efflorescence.

Calcite (CaCO3) is a soft carbonate mineral that occurs in various colors, including white, yellow, brown, gray, black, and pink, and also can be colorless. Calcite is a common mineral that occurs primarily in limestone and dolostone, occasionally in concretions and rarely as an efflorescence.

The Romans made concrete by mixing lime and volcanic ash to create a pozzolanic reaction. If this was mixed with volcanic tuff and placed under seawater, the seawater hydrated the lime in an exothermic reaction that solidified the mixture.

Aragonite

vug with aragonite east central ohio

Vug with aragonite crystals in arenaceous, ferruginous, fossiliferous limestone from Ohio

Photo By James St. John – Vug with aragonite crystals in arenaceous, ferruginous, fossiliferous limestone (Vinton Member, Logan Formation, Lower Mississippian; Mt. Calvary Cemetery Outcrop – Rt. 13 roadcut, Heath, east-central Ohio, USA) 3, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82971990

With a name that sounds like a heroic character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, but originates from the territory of Aragon in Spain, aragonite is one of the three most common forms of calcium carbonate. Its crystal lattice differs from calcite, one of the other common forms of calcium carbonate. It has a host of industrial uses. Aragonite has been found in Coshocton County.

Celestite

Celestite Crystals inside Crystal Cave on South Bass Island

Crystal Cave is a small cave in Put-in-Bay on Lake Erie in Ohio touted as the world’s largest geode. An abundance of large, well-formed crystals of celestite cover the walls. The cave was originally mined for its strontium content, but enough nice crystals still remain to keep the site open as a show cave.

Photo by James St. John – Celestite (Crystal Cave, South Bass Island, Lake Erie, Ohio, USA) 16, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82969277

A soft sulfate mineral ore of strontium, in fact being the most common mineral that contains strontium. Celestite derived strontium is used industrially in fireworks, ceramic magnets, and toothpaste

Ohio is famous for having some of the best celestite deposits in the world. The mineral is found in 11 counties. The northwestern regions of Ohio amid the Findlay Arch produce celestite ranging in color from white to pale blue. The area of Serpent Mound southwestern Ohio also produces some celestite due to an unusual geological occurrence. South Bass Island is a huge vug filled with very large celestite crystals.

Quartz

Geode with sphalerite barite dolomite and quartz Monroe County Ohio

Close-up of a Monroe County, Ohio geode with sphalerite, barite, dolomite and quartz.

Photo by James St. John – Geode with sphalerite, barite, dolomite, and quartz (Monroe County, Ohio, USA) 2, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84692026

What can’t you not say about quartz? It is a hard silicate in the form of silicon dioxide. It’s useful in glassmaking, watchmaking, ceramics, metal casting, electronics, and the petroleum industry. But the enduring love it receives is because of it’s beauty and variety: rose quartz, lavender quartz, blue quartz, rutilated quartz, citrine, amethyst, enhydro quartz, prasiolite, ametrine and a variety of shapes including points, needles, and clusters.

In Ohio, quartz is found in flint beds in Coshocton, Licking, and Muskingum Counties; in Adams and Highland Counties; in septarian limestone concretions in the central portion of the state; and loose in streambeds and creeks in the Southeast.

Fluorite

Ohio Fluorite

An example of Ohio Fluorite from Stoneco Auglaize quarry (Maumee Stone County quarry), Junction, Paulding County, Ohio.

A 1.2 cm colorless cube with well-centered, distinct, rich purple color “phantom” inside. The crystal has very sharp faces and excellent gemminess. It sits upon a small amount of Dolostone matrix

Photo by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10148353

Fluorite is a another name for calcium fluoride, a halide ore mineral of fluorine. It’s has several industrials uses including as a flux for removing impurities in the manufacture of steel and in the production of fluorine gas which itself is used in the refining of uranium.

While fluorite is found across the world, the quality and largest quantities are mined out of Europe and North America. In Ohio fluorite is found in 19 counties. Typically cubic crystals found in dolostones in northwestern Ohio particularly along the edges of the Findlay Arch and occasionally in the Serpent Mound area.

Some fluorite is UV reactive, fluorescing under exposure. Because of this property, it and it’s compounds are used to manufacture synthetic crystals with applications in laser and special UV and infrared optics.

Dolomite

Put-in-Bay Dolomite South Bass Island, Lake Erie,Ohio

Ohio Dolostone. In the past Dolomite was used to refer to both the mineral and the rock. Dolomite is now used to refer to the mineral and dolostone refers to sedimentary rock whose primary content is dolomite.

Photo By James St. John – Put-in-Bay Dolomite over Tymochtee Dolomite (Upper Silurian; South Bass Island, Lake Erie, Ohio, USA) 6, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82969360

What relationship does Ohio have with a nineteenth century french geologist? The answer in one word is Dolomite! Named after Déodat Gratet de Dolomieu, Dolomite is found in over 19 Ohio counties. Dolomite differs from limestone in that it contains both calcium and magnesium.

More well known as an Indiana mineral, especially the Corydon area, this calcium magnesium carbonate occurs in small crystals in western Ohio and along the Huron river among other areas.

Dolomite has industrial uses including as a source of magnesium salts like magnesia and by builders as structural and ornamental stone.

The term dolomite used to refer both to the mineral dolomite and dolostone (a sedimentary rock of which is made primarily of dolomite).

Barite

Fluorite and barite (quarry in Marblehead Peninsula, far-northern Ohio

Fluorite and barite from Marblehead Peninsula Ohio

Photo By James St. John – Fluorite and barite (quarry in Marblehead Peninsula, far-northern Ohio, USA), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40022633

Found in over 26 counties in Ohio, this Barium Sulfate mineral often associated with calcite and other minerals is often white or colorless but can also have light blues, greys, yellows or browns. In the central and eastern Ohio black shale formations barite is found in concretions such as limestone, ironstone and pyrite. In the northwestern and southwestern Ohio crystalline or granular barite can be found in fractures and cavitiesof dolostones (dolomite sedimentary rock).

Barite is the primary ore for barium, and has varied industrial uses including paper, paint and glass manufacture as well medical radiology (as a dye) and in oil drilling.

Barites crystals found in Ohio can sometimes be massive in size.

Malachite

Malachite,Zaire

Malachite – sadly from Zaire and not Ohio

Photo By JJ Harrison (https://www.jjharrison.com.au/) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7515677

Typically found in botryoidal, stalagmitic, or fibrous masses, beautiful green malachite is collectible, and displayable.

It was a little hard to believe that malachite is found in Ohio, but according to the state it actually is present. Since it’s a copper carbonate hydroxide mineral it obviously needs copper to be present to form, and I did find a reference to a copper mine in Cuyahoga county.

Pyrite

Pyrite snake concretion Ohio Shale Upper Devonian creek cut in Ross County, southern Ohio, USA

Pyrite

Photo By James St. John – Pyrite snake concretion (Ohio Shale, Upper Devonian; creek cut in Ross County, southern Ohio, USA) 8, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84692435

Iron Pyrite, commonly known as “fool’s gold”, is metallic iron sulfide mineral found in over 88 Ohio counties, typically in Devonian or Pennsylvanian shales. Pyrite has been used as an ore for sulfur and a source of iron.

The most common sulfide mineral, pyrite can form form in extremely well-crystallized examples of cubes, pyritohedrons, and octahedrons.

Sphalerite

Sphalerite on dolostone Millersville Quarry, Sandusky County, Ohio

Sphalerite crystals atop sucrosic dolostone from Sandusky County, Ohio

Photo by James St. John – https://www.flickr.com/photos/jsjgeology/31282767801/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=101721070

Sphalerite is a sulfide mineral that is an ore of zinc, cadmium, gallium, germanium, and indium. It has a wide variety of colors including light/dark brown, red-brown, yellow, red, green, light blue, black, and colorless. It occurs in the Findlay Arch area, near Serpent Mound, and in Eastern Ohio.

Smithsonite

example of smithsonite

Illustrative example of smithsonite – sadly, not from Ohio. This example is from the Kelley Mine in Soccorro County, New Mexico.

Photo by Bureau of Mines – http://libraryphoto.cr.usgs.gov/cgi-bin/show_picture.cgi?ID=ID.%20BOM%20Mineral%20Specimens%20016, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1825549

Smithsonite is named after English geologist and chemist James Smithson. Also known as zinc spar, this form of mineral zinc carbonate is a variably colored trigonal mineral.

Special Mention: Fossils

While not minerals, it would be unforgivable to not mention Ohio’s rich treasure trove of minerals. The greater Cincinnati area (which includes parts of northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana) sits atop what is known as the Cincinnati Arch, the eroded remains of a mountain range from Michigan to Alabama that was thrust up by collision of two ancient continents. The arch sank beneath a series of shallow inland seas filled with marine life ending up as deposits of fossils in what is known to geologists as the Cincinnatian Epoch.

The region is famous for a wide variety of marine fossils, but particularly Trilobites, a now extinct member of the arthropod family.

Phacops rana,Silica,Ohio

Example of Ohio Eldredgeops rana fossil

Photo by Daderot – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83993913

Graftonoceras – limonite-stained external mold of nautiloid in dolostone

Photo By James St. John – Graftonoceras fossil nautiloid (Lockport Dolomite, Middle Silurian; Coldwater, southern Mercer County, western Ohio, USA), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36833417

Graftonoceras fossil nautiloid (Lockport Dolomite, Middle Silurian;Coldwater,southern Mercer County).
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Ever Popular Ever Beautiful Rose Quartz

Of all the variety of minerals and crystals, perhaps the most beloved and widely collected is quartz. Named from the old Saxon word querklufterz meaning ‘cross vein ore’, it is popular with collectors, healers, artists, craftsmen, and people just looking for beautiful jewelry or items to display in their home. Quartz has something for everyone: a startling variety of colors; beautiful geometrically precise crystals; crystals ranging in size from druzy to monumental; strange and fantastical interior minerals such as hematite. Quartz is also the most abundant mineral on our planet.

Pure quartz is a colorless form of silicon dioxide, but there is a wide variety of both colored quartz and minerals that are not commonly understood to be a variety of quartz, such as amethyst, citrine, praseolite, chalcedony, and herkimer diamonds. Many of these varieties derive their color from impurities. Amethyst, for example owes its purple color to a combination of iron impurities trapped in the crystal along with holes in its structure from missing elections. Gray quartz similarly has missing electrons, but instead of iron impurities, it has aluminum impurities. Aside from color, quartz is usually grouped based on the size of the size of individual crystals or grains. If the individual crystal is too small to see using the naked eye, then the crystal is referred to as being cryptocrystalline quartz. If you can use your unaided eye to see the crystal, then it is classified as macrocrystalline quartz.

Rose quartz is a popular macrocrystalline form of quartz best know for its solid masses, beautiful glassy luster and translucent, even, milky pink color. The source of the color is still not well understood. One theory argues that it is due minor impurities such as titanium, manganese or even colloidal gold. The other theory argues that color comes from microscopic mineral fibers of dumortierite inside the rose quartz. Some examples exhibit asterism – a star effect when looking at the mineral from a particular angle when light is shone upon it. In general, rose quartz does not form crystals like you see with other forms of quartz.

Its delicate color has inspired art in other mediums including this glass vase on at the Chrysler Museum, and has its own color listing in the Pantone color library. Man has worked with the material back into antiquity. Beads made of the material have been discovered in the near east. The Chinese, particularly during the Qing dynasty, used the material for carvings. It was crafted in Latin America, and India as well.

Rose Quartz Vase

18th Century, Chinese, Qing Dynasty

Rose Quartz and Gold Double Bird Pendant
8th–12th century Coclé (Macaracas)

From Panama

Dagger (Jambiya)
18th century
Indian, Mughal

Steel, ivory (walrus), silver, ruby, rose quartz

Rose quartz was believed by the Romans, Egyptians and Greeks to be a useful talisman, and the Romans carved it into ownership seals. It was known during medieval times as the love stone, and the Chinese valued it’s properties in the practice of Feng Shui. Given the strong and ancient beliefs that the stone had special properties , it is no surprise that a strong literature has arisen around the material in modern times discussing metaphysical, healing, Reiki, or other spiritual properties of the material.

Ring, filigree with rose quartz

Greek or Roman, from Cyprus

Rose Quartz continues to inspire people, even in modern times. It’s a name given to a character in the Cartoon Network show Steven Universe. In the show, Steven is half-human and half “gem”, a type of ageless alien warrior that project human like forms from the gemstones in their core. Steven inherits his half “gem” lineage from his full-gem mother, Rose Quartz.

Rose Quartz (right), Steven Universe’s mother from the Cartoon Network show “Steven Universe”

By Hilary Florido, Katie Mitroff and Rebecca Sugar (authors); Cartoon Network / Time Warner (copyright owners) – Own screenshot, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50775788

Rose quartz is found today in southern Africa (Madagascar, South Africa, and Namibia) as well as Brazil (Bahia and Minas Gerais) and interestingly, South Dakota.

There is a second variety of quartz sometimes grouped under the name rose quartz, but also referred to as pink crystalline quartz or crystalline rose quartz or even just pink quartz. This variety is much rarer, forms beautiful crystals and the best examples hail from the Minas Gerais region of Brazil.

For your own rose crystal display piece or healing stone check out Georarities’ selection of rose quartz crystals for sale.

Flower holder with pomegranate

18th Century, Chinese, Qing Dynasty

Snuff Bottle with Floral Design
late 18th century
China, Qing Dynasty

Aquamarine with Rose Quartz Topper

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Beautiful Collectible Kentucky Agate

Borden Formation Lower Mississippian Eastern Kentucky Agate

Located in east-central near the town of Irvine is Knob’s Region, a “u” shaped arc extending for nearly 230 miles that is home to Kentucky agate, the officially designated state rock of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Highly collectible, Kentucky agate is a beautiful form of agate particularly known for it’s deep red and black hues.

Agate is typically a chalcedony (silicon dioxide) variety of fine or microcrystalline quartz nodule or concretion that may contain banding, mottled or variegated coloring. While most agates from in igneous rocks, Kentucky agate is one of the rare exception that forms in sedimentary rocks, a list which also includes Montana agates and Fairburn agates in the Black Hills.

Kentucky agate tends to be prone to cracking, finding quality specimens without cracks tends to be a challenge, making specimens used in jewelry that are free of the cracks particularly prized, collectible and expensive.

We offer a wide variety of both agates and Kentucky agates for sale on our website, and we have an even wider selection in our studio/gallery including the beautiful black and red pendant below which is our own creation .

Rare Red on Black Kentucky Agate Pendant with Dragon on Reverse KYA2-#KYA2-1

Kentucky Agate is often used in jewelry such as this beautiful Red on Black Kentucky Agate Pendant. Note the micro cracks in the stone which is common with this variety of agate due to how it forms.

Agate nodule displaying reds, blacks and yellows. Note the micro cracks. From Estil or Powell County, Kentucky. Photo By James St. John – Agate (Borden Formation, Lower Mississippian; eastern Kentucky, USA) 6, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82926380

Agate nodule from Kentucky with dark reds, orange, black and whites. Photo by James St. John – Agate (Borden Formation, Lower Mississippian; eastern Kentucky, USA) 12, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82926386

Agate nodule from Kentucky, USA, photo By James St. John – Agate (Borden Formation, Lower Mississippian; eastern Kentucky, USA) 13, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82926390

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Roman Era Emerald Mine in the Egyptian Desert

Roman Era Egyptian Emerald Necklace

Fifteen miles or so from the Egyptian coastline of the sparkling Red Sea stand a series of crumbling structures. Standing upon an area known in antiquity as “Mons Smaragdus”, these ruins in the Egyptian Eastern Desert are all that remains of Sikait, the Roman Empire’s only emerald mine. Archaeological work conducted in 2020 and 2021 by the University of Barcelona suggests that as the Empire’s grip on the area loosened and eventually receded, some of the buildings were occupied or possibly even built by a nomadic tribe, the Blemmyes, which gained influence in the area.

The Blemmyes appear in written records starting from the 7th century B.C. and disappear sometime around the 8th century A.D. they are mentioned in Strabo’s Geographica in the 1st century A.D. as essentially non-bellicose nomadic raiders. Their cultural and military power increased to the point they formed a kingdom on the flank or Roman Egypt requiring repeated intervention of the Imperial army to keep them from causing trouble.

The researchers believe that the Blemmyes took over not just the site but also the mining activities at the site, possibly also making improvements to building some of the structures on the site.

Remarkable among the finds of the researchers are ancient inscriptions including at least one by a members of a Roman Legion. This inscription would be the first evidence that the Roman army was involved in exploitation of Egypt’s emerald mines, not just to defend them but also probably to help construct them. It was not uncommon in the empire for the legions to be used for civilian construction projects. Not only would this kind of work keep the troops in good physical shape between campaigns, it would keep them busy and productive. It was a Roman belief that a busy army was less likely to mutiny. The legions were involved in the construction of town walls, roads, aqueducts and mining related buildings and equipment such as water mills, stamp mills and dewatering machines.

Roman Era Egyptian Emerald Necklace

Roman necklace originating in Egypt made of gold, blue stone and emerald, A.D. 2nd century

Roman beryl intaglio portrait of Julia Domna

Beryl intaglio with portrait of Julia Domna A.D. 200-210.

Julia Domna was wife of Emperor Septimus Severus and mother of Emperor Caracalla. The Egyptian mine at Sikait is the only source of Emerald, a form of Beryl, within the Empire, and thus the likely source of the material for this object if it was not imported.

Roman gold and emerald necklace 1st – 2nd century A.D.

Ruins near Egyptian Emerald Mine

Ruins at Sikait, Egypt

In the mountains along the Red Sea coast of Egypt, across from Sinai, lie the remains of Sikait, location of the only emerald mine in the Roman Empire. This photo shows the ruins of the most impressive building complex at the site, known as Tripartite Building.

By Roland Unger – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71533171

We may not have any Egyptian emeralds, but do check out our selection of gemstones.

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The Uncertain Future of Afghanistan’s Mineral Wealth

Corundum

Poor Afghanistan. It is the country that never seems to catch a break. Remote, poor, land-locked, and yet highly strategic because of its position as the gateway to India and its position athwart the ancient silk road trade route to China, it has seen armies pass through from Alexander the Great to the Moghuls (think the creators of the Taj Mahal), to the British and Russians, and finally the Soviet and Americans.

Map of Mineral Resources of Afghanistan

Afghanistan Mineral Resources

Photo By This file was contributed to Wikimedia Commons by National Archives at College Park – Cartographic as part of a cooperation project. The donation was facilitated by the Digital Public Library of America, via its partner National Archives and Records Administration.National Archives Identifier: 159081989Source record: http://catalog.archives.gov/id/159081989DPLA identifier: a982bb69e64e77d42e7d7f8e0a1c5f33, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=96782925

One ever-constant bright spot for the nation has been the enormous mineral wealth it sits above. A massive upheaval about 40 million years ago between the Indo-European, the African, and Asian plates created the towering mountains upon which the nation sprawls. This also created a wide variety and enormous quantity of mineral wealth, particularly in the north and northeast of the country All told there are over 1,400 mineral fields encompassing barite, chromite, coal, copper, gold, iron ore, lead, natural gas, petroleum, precious and semi-precious stones, salt, sulfur, lithium, talc, and zinc, rare earth minerals, and high-quality emerald, lapis lazuli, red garnet, tourmaline, turquoise and ruby just to name a few examples. This enormous wealth has been well know for over a century from surveys conducted by the British and Russians. During their occupation the Soviets conducted their own survey. Most recently, a United States Geological Survey estimate prepared after the overthrow of the Taliban that there was perhaps a trillion dollars worth of mineral wealth in Afghanistan.

Industrial Minerals

Madan Turquoise Mines

An early turquoise mine in the Madan village of Khorasan

Photo by Major Henri De Bouillane de Lacoste (tr. by J. G. Anderson) – “Around Afghanistan” as digitised by the Internet Archive’s text collection., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3850890

The mineral wealth can be divided into industrially useful and specimens & gemstones. Just in Baghlan Province one finds important deposits of clay, bauxite, gypsum, limestone, and coal. Clay in particular has been used since ancient times. Other industrially useful minerals include chromium, mercury, copper, gold, silver, iron ore, lead, tungsten, zinc, lithium, beryllium, cobalt, marble, sulfur, tin and talc. Perhaps the world’s largest copper lode exists in Aynak.

Doost marble Factory

An Afghan Marble Factory

Photo by USAID Afghanistan – 100525 Hirat Marble Conference 133, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15375462

Green Ceramic Tile

Green Tile with Star Design, 12th–13th century, Earthenware; molded decoration, monochrome glazed, Attributed to Afghanistan

Gem Producing Regions

Afghanistan is particularly noted for it’s rich gemstone wealth. Lapis Lazuli, Kunzite, Morganite, Emerald, Aquamarine, Tourmaline, Beryl, Spinel, Sapphire, Topaz, Fluorite, Garnet, Corundum (Ruby), and Green Serpentine are all present. Indeed, the Black Prince’s Ruby and the “Timur ruby” in the British Crown Jewels (both actually Spinel and not Ruby) are both believed to have originated in or near Afghanistan. Most recently, and perhaps controversially Hiddenite (or “Hiddenite-like”) has been discovered.

There are four main gem-producing regions: the Panjshir Valley for emeralds, the Jegdalek area for rubies and a range of fancy colored and blue sapphires, Badakhshan for lapis lazuli, and Nuristan for a wide variety of semi-precious gems including as tourmaline, kunzite, aquamarine, spodumene and beryl.

The Panjshir emerald deposit may refer to the ‘smaragdus (green stones) from Bactria’ in Pliny’s in his ‘Natural History’, written in the first century AD. The emeralds occur at altitudes of between 3000 and 4000 meters. The clarity of these emeralds rivals that of the world-famous Colombian emeralds. The remote and inaccessible Panjshir valley, is also the home of the Northern Alliance – the main Afghan resistance to both the Soviets and the Taliban in the 1970 – 2000s. The same inaccessible terrain makes extracting the emeralds a challenge.

Beryl

Beryl (Var.: Emerald) Locality: Panjsher (Panjshir) Valley, Hessa-e-Say District, Panjshir (Panjsheer) Province, Afghanistan

Photo by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10135249

Jegdalek Gandamak rubies are mined in Kabul Province from Proterozoic calcite-dolomite marble bed between 500 and 2000 m thick in a regionally metamorphosed marble cut by Oligocene granitic intrusions. This mine was worked to provide marble for the Taj Mahal – but it is uncertain whether rubies were actively mined at that time. Jegdalek rubies range from nearly colorless to deep red and purplish red with strong UV fluorescence. True rubies form about 15 % of production, along with pink sapphires (75 %) and blue sapphire (5 %), and 5 % mixed blue and red-to-pink corundum.
Clean faceting quality rubies from this mine are said to match the very best in the world.

Corundum

Corundum Locality: Jegdalek (Jagdalek; Jagdalak; Jagdalik) Ruby Mine, Sorobi District, Kabol (Kabul) Province, Afghanistan 

Photo by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10448845

Afghanistan is world famous for its lapis lazuli, a rock composed of the feldspathoid minerals lazurite, hauyne, nosean and sodalite, with other minerals including calcite and pyrite and lesser amounts of diopside, amphibole, feldspar, mica and other silicates. Lapis from Badakhshan in the north of the country is still regarded as the world’s premier source in terms of quantity and quality. The name derives from a mixture of Latin and Persian: the Latin ‘lapis’, meaning ‘stone’ and the Persian ‘lazhward’ meaning ‘blue’. Then material is used to make beads, boxes and other decorative articles, often carved into figurines and is popular for men’s jewelry.

Lapis is mined on the right bank of the Kokcha River in Badakhshan in an area known as the ‘Blue Mountain’ in skarn lenses 1–4 m thick in marble. At one time there were as many as seven lapis mines there is only one, the Sary-Sang deposit at an elevation of around 3500 m where, on because of low winter temperatures, mining occurs only between
June and September.

Lapis Lazuli

The highest quality lapis lazuli in the world is from northeastern Afghanistan (northern Kuran Wa Munjan District, southern Badakhshan Province)

Photo by James St. John – Lapis lazuli (lazuritic gneiss) (Sar-e-Sang Deposit, Sakhi Formation, Precambrian, 2.4-2.7 Ga (?); Sar-e-Sang Mining District, Hindu-Kush Mountains, Afghanistan) 1, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83302689

Lazurite

Lazurite, Pyrite, marble Locality: Sar-e-Sang District, Koksha Valley (Kokscha; Kokcha), Badakhshan (Badakshan; Badahsan) Province, Afghanistan. A well-formed euhedral crystal of lazurite (lapis lazuli) – not to be confused with lazulite

Photo by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10175015

Afghanite

Afghanite on Calcite, Koksha Valley, Badakhshan, Afghanistan, Asia

The fourth major gemstone region is Nuristan on the eastern side of Afghanistan bordering Pakistan, an area dotted with high mountains cut by numerous steep-sided valleys. The region is notable for its pegmatite fields, a late-stage crystallisation from molten rock, hosting a wide variety of minerals and gems commonly of unusual size and quality. Gem-quality tourmalines in a wide range of colors from pink though pale blue, indigo blue (indicolite), green, and emerald green. In addition, rare two-colored stones of green-pink and blue-green are much sought after. The crystals are beautifully formed, elongate with a distinctive ‘rounded triangular’ cross-section.

Elbaite

Elbaite Locality: Paroon Mine, Darra-i-Pech (Pech; Peech; Darra-e-Pech) Pegmatite Field, Nangarhar (Ningarhar) Province, Afghanistan

Photo by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10448930

History

Some of the world’s oldest mines are believed to be in Afghanistan. Production in antiquity focused on precious stone production as well gold and silver extraction. Lapis lazuli was produced in the region of Badakhshan as early as 8000 B.C. Lapis was traded to the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Assyrians, Akkadians, Babylonians to be made into amulets, seals and other objects. The Aynak copper mine has been in use for at least two thousand years based on the coins and tools found on the site. Afghan ruby and spinel is mentioned in writing of many travelers from the Muslim world from the mid-900s onward. Rich iron, metal, gold, copper and silver deposits are indicated by a strong metal working tradition, and the deposits of lapis, marble, alabaster and other materials led to a strong stone carving tradition.

Gold and Turquoise Shoe Buckle

Shoe Buckle in the Shape of a Recumbent Ram, Bactria, 1st century B.C.–1st century A.D. Gold inlaid with turqoise.

Khyber Knife

Khyber Knife, made of steel and iron, Afghanistan, 18th – 19th centuries. Afghanistan has significant iron deposits.

Seated Alabaster Figure

Bronze Age Seated female, ca. late 3rd–early 2nd millennium B.C., Steatite or chlorite, alabaster, Bactria-Margiana

Today’s Challenges

Capitalizing on its sovereign mineral wealth has always been challenging for Afghanistan. Corruption, civil war, occupation, have meant problems extracting, and transport minerals, and great difficulty in the wealth being used to improve the well-being of the population. Mineral extraction, particularly in the high mountain mines remains exploitative and dangerous. These challenges are compounded now by the renewed takeover of the country by the Taliban. Traditionally, whichever party ruled the nation tried to exert control over the mineral wealth, and the Taliban are no exception. There is discussion of the government imposing new taxes on the mineral extractors, transporters, and exporters. Will any of the taxes make their way into the common good? Will those who labor at the bottom the industry benefit? Will the money simply support the Taliban? Will the endemic corruption inhibit or expedite the mineral extraction? All of these questions remain to be answered.

In addition to all these factors, Afghanistan is now the subject of new geo-strategic maneuvering. In the wake of the U.S. withdrawal and the collapse of the Republic of Afghanistan, new players are angling for power and influence to exploit the mineral wealth. Players like Iran, and Russia are making moves to strengthen their hand with the Taliban, and the discovery of vast deposits of rare earth mineral (in reality not terribly rare, but that’s another discussion entirely) and the newly recognized importance of the lithium deposits for use in electric car batteries has led to keen interest and competition by the Chinese in and Afghanistan. How this all plays out remains to be seen, but unfortunately it is most likely that little will change for the common laborer working in the mines of Afghanistan.

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The Black Diamond, an Engima Weighing 555.55 Carats

Black Diamond

A gigantic black diamond, certified by Guiness as the world’s largest cut diamond is for sale through Sotheby’s auctions. Weighing in at a whopping 555.55 carats, the carbonado piece has 55 cuts and is heavier than its rivals the Great Star of Africa and the Golden Jubilee. The typical diamond is an uncovered kimberlite rock that was formed quite deep with the earth. Carbonado diamonds, one of the toughest of natural diamonds, however, are found in alluvial, sedimentary deposits. Lead istotope analyses of carbonados suggest their crystallization about 3 billion years ago, but this poses a paradox as the material carbonado is typically found is much younger than that. This paradox and a lack of mantle minerals often found in non-carbonado diamonds has lead some believe that carbonado has an extraterrestrial origin. In fact Sotheby’s suggest this hypothesis in their auction listing.

Check out Sotheby’s video of the the Enigma above or view their auction listing.

We may not have any black diamonds for sale, but we have plenty of gemstones and lapidary material. Don’t see exactly what you are looking for? Contact us as we make only a small selection of our inventory available online.

Top Photo is the Million Dollar Rarest Natural Black Diamond known as “shaan-e-kolkata” with a weight of 121.32 carats (24.264g) good round-cut presently in India.It’s certified by Golconda Institute of Diamonds, Hyderabad on 25th May 2012, an issued Certification of Authenticity by Mr. Imran Shareef (Certified Diamond Grader GIA New York, USA). Currently owned by Prem Singh from West Bengal,India. Photo by Trishtha – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35937431

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Simply Brilliant – An Exceptional Collection of Fine Jewelry with Outstanding Stones and Crystals

Cincinnati Art Museum Modern Jewelry Exhibit 1960s-1970s

The Cincinnati Art Museum has a new exhibit running through February 6th titled “Simply Brilliant: Artist-Jewelers of the 1960s and 1970s”. This exhibition of approximately 120 explores the international renaissance in fine jewelry in the 1960s and 1970s and features  the work of independent jewelers such as Andrew Grima, Gilbert Albert, Arthur King, Jean Vendome and Barbara Anton along with work created for Bulgari, Cartier, Boucheron and other major houses drawn from one of the most important private collections in the world, assembled by Cincinnatian Kimberly Klosterman.

Andrew Grima (British, b. Italy, 1921–2007), Brooch, 1969, gold, watermelon tourmaline, diamonds, Courtesy of the Cincinnati Art Museum, Collection of Kimberly Klosterman, Photography by Tony Walsh
Andrew Grima (British, b. Italy, 1921–2007), Brooch, 1969, gold, watermelon tourmaline, diamonds, Courtesy of the Cincinnati Art Museum, Collection of Kimberly Klosterman, Photography by Tony Walsh

The exhibition is accompanied by a full color illustrated catalogue and includes essays by some of the most important scholars in the field. Biographies of each designer/house represented are paired with full color images, extended text for a select number of highlighted pieces and an appendix of maker’s marks.

Jean Vendome (French, 1930–2017), Collier Veracruz (Veracruz Necklace), 1972, white gold, platinum, amethyst, diamonds, Courtesy of the Cincinnati Art Museum, Collection of Kimberly Klosterman, Photography by Tony Walsh

The individual makers represented in the exhibition referred to themselves as artists first, jewelers second, approaching their work as a modern art form. Largely utilizing yellow gold and incorporating both precious and semi-precious gems, and inspired by nature they focused on organic forms, favored abstract shapes and concepts related to space-age trends. Using unconventional materials such as coral, shell, geodes and moldavite bringing unrivaled texture to their jewelry. Theirs was a style that was appreciated by individuals who were looking for something different in an era when different was best.

Chopard (Swiss, est. 1860), Alexandra Watch, circa 1971, gold, diamonds, lapis lazuli, Courtesy of the Cincinnati Art Museum, Collection of Kimberly Klosterman, Photography by Tony Walsh

The exhibition is free and located in the Vance Waddell and Mayerson Galleries (Galleries 124 & 125), and is absolutely outstanding. We recommend you take advantage of the opportunity to see these pieces while you can.

The Cincinnati Art Museum is open 11am – 5 pm Tuesday – Sunday except for 11 am – 8 pm on Thursdays. Click here to for more information about the exhibit and the Cincinnati Art Museum.

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Beautiful Bejeweled Amethyst’s History as an Art Medium

Amethyst intaglio portrait of Julius Caesar, Roman, 50-40 B.C.E.

The February birthstone is amethyst. A form of non-fluorescing hard stone quartz whose typically purple shading comes from irradiation of iron or transition element impurities, amethyst was once considered one of the cardinal, or most valuable, gemstones. Occasionally exhibiting secondary shades of blue or red, the beautiful stone is highly popular among mineral collectors, crystal healers, art lovers, lapidaries. While not considered as valuable as it once was due to recent discoveries of large deposits of the mineral, amethyst often produces stunning jewelry.

Traditionally most carved gemstones in the west are a form of quartz, the carving techniques adopted for quartz also apply to amethyst. Amethyst deposits have been found on almost every continent and it’s availability was a key factor in it’s popularity as a carving medium of artisans in antiquity. Deposits have been found in Brazil, Uruguay, Austria, Russia, Zambia, and Korea, as well the eastern and southern areas of the United States, including Texas, North Carolina, and the Lake Superior Region.

Amethysts was carved and treasured by cultures such as those of Japan, Iran, Greece, Rome, Egypt, the Anglo-Saxons and others. Different cultures each put their own spin on the importance, meaning and value of the stone. It was highly treasured by Russian Empress Catherine who sent thousands of miners into the Ural mountains seeking the gemstone. In ancient Rome, the purple color of the gem was associated with the purple color reserved for the elite and the emperor. The medieval Catholic church’s bishops prized amethyst’s color. The ancient Egyptians worked the material into amulets for protection against harm. Moses the prophet is said to have described amethyst as representing the spirit of god. The ancient Greeks believed the stone offered protection from drunkenness. The Tibetans created rosaries from the stone and considered it sacred to Buddha. Leonardo Da Vinci wrote that amethyst quickened intelligence and dissipated evil thoughts. The Anglo-Saxons fashioned beads, while was used for intaglio.

In this article we present a visual tour of the different ways amethyst has been used in art, both ancient, antique, and modern.

Amethyst intaglio portrait of Julius Caesar, Roman, 50-40 B.C.E.

Amethyst intaglio portrait of Julius Caesar, Roman, 50-40 B.C.E.

Byzantine Jeweled Bracelet of gold, silver, pearls, amethyst, sapphire, glass, quartz, 500-700 C.E.

Byzantine Jeweled Bracelet of gold, silver, pearls, amethyst, sapphire, glass, quartz
1st Century Greek or Roman Amethyst Oval

1st Century Greek or Roman Amethyst Oval

Frankish Disk Brooch, c. 550-650 B.C.E. with Amethyst Jewel

Amethyst, Copper, Gold and Silver Frankish Disk Brooch, 550-650 C.E.
American Brooch by Theodore B. Starr, 1900, Amethyst, Gold, Garnet, Enamel

Amethyst, Garnet, Gold and Enamel Brooch by Theodore B. Starr, American, 1900

Egyptian Amethyst Scarab, Middle Kingdom, ca. 1981–1950 B.C. The scarab beetle was a potent symbol of creation and regeneration among the ancient Egyptians.

Egyptian Amethyst Scarab, Middle Kingdom, 1981-1950 B.C.E.
Chinese Amethyst Qing Dynasty Seal, Late 19th-early 20th Century

Chinese Qing Dynasty Amethyst , Late 19th – Early 20th Century

Chinese Qing Dynasty Snuff Bottle of White, Green and Brown Jadeite with Amethyst Stopper, Qianlong Period (1736-1795)

Chinese Qing Dynasty Snuff Bottle of White, Green, and Brown Jadeite with Amethyst Quartz Stopper 1736-95
Spanish Clip Earrings, mid-19ths Century, Gold, Metal and Amethyst

Mid-19th Century Avant-Garde Spanish Clip Earrings, Amethyst, Silver, Metal

We may not have antique carvings, but you can check out our lovely collection of amethyst for sale.