Herkimer diamond - also known as Herkimer quartz - is a beautiful, crystal clear gemstone that has some interesting physical properties. If you're interested to know how it formed, what it looks like and how people have used it from past to present, read on!
How Herkimer Quartz Crystals Formed
500 million years ago, during the Cambrian Period, Herkimer diamond began to form in cavities within a sedimentary rock called Dolostone. Dolostone is made from limestone and dolomite.
Layer after layer of dead organic matter and minerals began to stratify and over the course of millions of years. The dead organic matter would break down and decompose, releasing gases as it did so.
The combination of intense pressure from each stratum of sediment and the trapped gases within created little cavities in the Dolostone where these quartz crystals began to grow gradually and without other minerals to alter the color.
This is why Herkimer quartz appears nearly transparent and are regarded as pure.
Herkimer Diamond Appearance
Herkimer diamond, as the name suggests, resemble diamonds. Transparent, shiny and crystal clear, these 'diamonds' fit the aesthetic of the classic 'diamond' look. As mentioned above, they are doubly terminated, which means both ends come to a point.
Herkimer diamond is quartz, and they are noted for their transparency. Although all Herkimer diamonds are double-pointed quartz, not all double-pointed quartz are Herkimer diamond.
Herkimer diamond will have 18 'faces', 6 on each point and 6 more in the center. This hexagonal shape sets Herkimer diamond apart from other quartz crystals and gives them the appearance of a typical diamond.
Herkimer Diamond Physical Properties
While softer than actual diamond, they are still hard enough to scratch glass, scoring a 7-7.5 on the Mohs Hardness scale (diamond scores 10). The most valuable Herkimer diamond gemstones are crystal clear, though some will contain inclusions which will result in cloudier colored crystals.
The typical size of one of these gemstones is around an inch (2.5cm) in length, though larger stones have been found and are prized higher than their smaller counterparts.
Herkimer County New York
Herkimer diamonds are diamonds in name only – They take their name from Herkimer County, New York and are termed ‘diamonds’ due to the clarity and natural faceting. Herkimer diamond is unique to New York and the Herkimer County area.
'Herkimer' ultimately has links to Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer. He was the son of German immigrants who grew up speaking German, English and some Iroquois. He fought on the side of the American Revolutionaries during the American War of Independence.
In 1777, he received a bad leg wound during an ambush which became known as the 'Battle of Oriskany'. According to legend, Herkimer continued to lead his men and kept the fight alive while taking shelter under a tree, smoking a pipe despite his dreadful wound.
Brigadier General Herkimer succumbed to his injuries after a botched amputation attempt ten days after the battle, and thus Herkimer County was named in his honor!
Commonly Believed Metaphysical Properties
Herkimer diamond is believed by some to have metaphysical properties including healing, increasing spiritual energy and opening up the crown and third eye chakras. Known as the 'Stone of Attunement', Herkimer diamond can purportedly be used to help those looking to experience astral travel or have lucid dreams.
Some people believe it can be used as a magnifier to amplify the spiritual energy of other gems. The thinking is that the brilliant clarity of these stones helps to bring balance to the chakras, to cleanse the negative energies by transmitting a high vibrational frequency and clearing blocked energy.
The Ideal Gift For a Loved One
Amulets are sometimes worn as they are believed to aid spiritual abilities and to keep a spiritual connection between two people, particularly over long distance.
It is popular to give a loved one a Herkimer diamond to keep on their person, activating an energetic bond and drawing the two of you together. Herkimer diamond is said to retain an energetic 'memory', which can be utilized at a later date to transmit feelings of love, success or divine knowledge.
Discovery of Herkimer Quartz
Also in the late 1700s, workmen discovered large quantities of what became known as 'Herkimer diamond' in Mohawk River Valley dolomite, instigating a diamond rush.
The first sites where Herkimer diamonds were discovered were the city of Little Falls and the village of Middleville (New York), which is why Herkimer diamonds are occasionally known as 'Little Falls diamonds' or 'Middleville diamonds'.
Mining Herkimer Diamonds
Double-terminated quartz crystals can be found in several countries, from China to Afghanistan, though if you seek authentic Herkimer diamond, commercial mines exist today in Herkimer County, allowing prospectors to pay a fee, rent equipment and have a go at mining and getting their hands on their own Herkimer diamond!
To get your own unique piece of this crystal clear gemstone, check out our made to order herkimer diamond jewelry.