Romancing the Source: Montana Sapphires
Montana sapphires are making their mark in the gemstone industry , although these wonderful sapphires have been mined in the area since the 1800’s they had not been a big influence in the markets. They have in recent years been growing a clientele through the internet. Three main areas are the source for these spectacular stones. near Helena along the Missouri River, in the Sapphire Mountains at Rock Creek, and near Deer Lodge at Dry Cottonwood. There are a few other areas but the main concentration of sapphires in the state are in these three places.
Sapphires are highly valued in the jewelry industry and designers are always looking for new sources and colors to use in their designs.
Montana’s rich history of gold and sapphire goes back to the late 1800s. A GIA field team traveled to the Rock Creek and Missouri River areas, where sapphire mining is still underway, to document the current industry and collect rough sapphire samples for our research reference sample collection. During our time in Montana we visited three mining operations, each with its own business model and its own exciting story. They all shared some common traits, however: amazing natural beauty and a passion for both the area and sapphires.
Join us on this adventure and learn about the legacy of North American gemstones as we travel by speedboat with a mine owner down the Missouri River, witnessing historical mining sites and current operations. Then visit their mine (Spokane Bar Mine) with us, where we document the entire mining process, and feel the thrill at the end of the day when we pull rough sapphires right out of the jig. The Spokane Bar Mine usually mines for tourists, but on this day we had the entire mine to ourselves to collect samples for the GIA reference collection. READ MORE…