When talking about gemstone sourcing, places like Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India may be the first to come to mind. But did you know that many precious and semi-precious gemstones are also found domestically right here in the United States? These all-American gemstones are ethically-sourced and all have their own unique properties that make them special and highly sought-after. Being so close to home can also make these gemstones even more meaningful for the wearer - imagine being proposed to in your favorite place in the world, say Glacier National Park, with a custom ring featuring a natural sapphire mined in Rock Creek, Montana!
Here are five gemstones mined in the United States:
1. Montana Sapphire
Sapphires can be found in many places around the world, but sapphires sourced from Montana are rapidly growing in popularity! While most people think of the traditional royal blue color found in some sapphires, especially those from Sri Lanka, Montana sapphires have more pastel and muted colors, often including green. However, Montana sapphires also come in an entire rainbow of colors and sometimes even bi-colored or parti-colored (multi-colored)! These colorful stones were discovered in the 1800's during the gold rush when a gold prospector found colorful pebbles in his pan. He collected the pebbles in a glass jar which he gifted to his grandchildren as a fun toy. Years later, it was discovered that these stones were, in fact, sapphires! These stones are rare, especially in large sizes, and are quickly becoming one of the most sought-after gemstones in the jewelry industry. They are expected to increase in price significantly in the coming years as demand grows and supply remains limited. Sapphire is one of the hardest gemstones in existence, making it a smart and durable choice as a center stone in a custom wedding ring!
2. Oregon Sunstone
In the middle of the state of Oregon lies a bed of beautiful sunstones created by volcanic lava from 14 million years ago. These feldspar stones range in color from yellow, orange, red, and sometimes even teal. Sunstones can be mined in many other places in the world, but Oregon sunstones have their own unique properties that cannot be found anywhere else. For example, sunstones mined in Oregon often have small inclusions of copper that create a glittery effect called "schiller." Oregon sunstones are closely related to labradorite and moonstone and have a Mohs Hardness of 6.5-7.2. This is a softer stone that does better in protective settings, but this softness also makes the stone a popular choice to be faceted into artistic or "fantasy" cuts by lapidary artists like Larry Woods and John Dyer.
3. Wyoming Ruby
The only ruby-specific mine located in the United States, called the Rodeo Queen Mine, sits among the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The stones mined here typically have an opaque appearance but still showcase the pinkish-red color that rubies are known for. Did you know that this red color is caused by chromium, a mineral that fluoresces under UV light? In fact, rubies are known to sometimes glow when in sunshine because of the UV rays from the sun. Being one of the hardest gemstones in existence, ruby is a fantastic option for wedding jewelry!
Turquoise is considered a sacred stone to many Native American tribes and is often seen in Native American jewelry and cultural rituals. Natural turquoise can be found in many places around the Southwest United States including Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and California. The arid climates in these areas are the perfect forming grounds for turquoise. This opaque gemstone gets its unique blue or blue-green color from its copper composition, or more specifically, copper aluminum phosphate. As silica-rich water seeps through rock it picks up small amounts of copper, which later deposits into veins among the host rock. This copper reacts not only with the oxygen in water, but also with other minerals like aluminum and potassium, slowly turning into turquoise. The presence of other minerals like iron or zinc can cause a piece of turquoise to appear more green. When turquoise is mined, it often contains veining or matrix, which is remnants of the host rock from which the turquoise was mined. This matrix varies greatly between every piece of turquoise, making each piece completely unique & one-of-a-kind! While many stones lose their color when crushed, turquoise maintains its characteristic blue color, making it one of our favorite crushed inlay options. Turquoise is also a beautiful center stone choice, but turquoise wearers should be aware that it a soft stone that requires special care to avoid cracking and scratching.
5. Montana Agate
Montana agate, sometimes called Montana moss agate, is a type of chalcedony, (or microcrystalline quartz) that was formed by volcanic activity. Unsurprisingly, this stone can be found in alluvial deposits in areas near Yellowstone park, and is sometimes even referred to as "Yellowstone Agate." Montana agate sometimes has red or brown dendritic inclusions made up of iron oxides and manganese. Dendritic inclusions often have tree or branch-like appearances and sometimes even look like small paintings or landscapes trapped within stone. Because of these inclusions, each Montana agate stone is unique and one-of-a-kind. Ranking a seven on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, this stone can safely be worn in engagement rings as long as proper care is taken to avoid scratching or fracture.
Designing a Custom Ring Around an American-Sourced Gemstone
Ready to pop the question to your partner with a unique a domestically-sourced gemstone ring? No matter the color or durability requirements you're looking for, there are some incredible options to choose from! From dreamy and durable Montana sapphires to bright and bold turquoise, the design possibilities are endless. Choose from our collections of customizable ring designs, start with a stone from the Staghead Mine, or start from scratch and work with our designers to design the ring of your dreams today!