To the recently distributed government report on the mineral resources of the United States for 1885. Mr. G.F. Kunz contributes an interesting chapter in which is recorded the progress made during that year in the discovery and utilization of precious stones.
In the summer of 1885, a remarkably large pocket containing fine crystals of muscovite, with brilliant crystals of rutile implanted on them, was found at the Emerald and Hiddenite Mining Company's works, at Stony Point, N.C., and was sold in the form of cabinet specimens for $750. While the soil overlying the rock was being worked, nine crystals of emerald were found, all of which were doubly terminated, and measured from 1 inch to 3-1/8 inches in length and 1-2/3 inch in width. One of these crystals is very perfect as a specimen, being of a fine light green color, and weighing 8¾ ounces. It is held by the company at $1,500, and the nine crystals together at $3,000. Another of these crystals, doubly terminated, measures 2½ inches by 11/12 of an inch, and is filled with large rhombohedral cavities, which formerly contained dolomite. The only crystal from this collection that has been cut into a gem was found in a pocket at a depth of over 43 feet. In color it is of a pleasing light green, and it weighs 4-22/32 carats.
No crystal of a finer color has as yet been found in the United States, and the gem is held by the company at $200.
During the recent mining, the largest fine crystal of lithia emerald ever found was also brought to light. It measures 2¾ inches by 3/5 of an inch by 1/3 of an inch. One end is of a very fine color, and would afford the largest gem of this mineral yet found, and one which would probably weigh 5½ carats. With this there was a number of superior crystals and some ounces of common pieces of the same mineral. The company estimates the value of this entire yield of hiddenite at about $2,500.
There was also found a quantity of quartz filled with white byssolite, forming very attractive specimens and valued at $250.
A number of beryls of a fine blue color, resembling the Mourne Mountain specimens, were found near Mount Antero, Chaffee County, Col. One of these was 4 inches long and 3/8 of an inch across, with cutting material in it. The other crystals measured from 1 to 1¼ inch in length, and from 1/5 to 1/3 inch in width.
The large beryl mentioned by Mr. Kunz in the Mineral Resources for 1883 and 1884 has afforded the finest aquamarine of American origin known. It is brilliant as a cut gem, and, with the exception of a few internal hair-like striae, is absolutely perfect. It weighs 133¾ carats, measures 1-2/5 × 1-2/5 × 4/5 inch, and is of a deep bluish green, equal to that of gems from any known locality.
Mr. G.F. Breed, manager of the Valencia Mica Company, has cut nearly one hundred aquamarines, ranging from ½ carat to 4 carats in weight, and of a light blue color, from white beryls found in the company's mica mine at North Grafton, N.H.
A number of fine, deep golden-yellow, blue, and green beryls, equaling any ever found, have been taken by Mr. M.W. Barse from his mica mine between New Milford and Litchfield, Conn. Some fine blood-red garnets from this same locality have been cut into gems.
The largest phenacite crystal ever found is owned by Mr. Whitman Cross. It was discovered at Crystal Park, Col., weighs 59 pennyweights 6 grains, and measures 1-4/5 inch in length and 1-1/5 inch in thickness.
Thousands of garnet crystals, found at Ruby Mountain, near Salides, Col., have been made into paperweights and sold to tourists. Those that weigh a few ounces sell for about ten cents each. One was sold that weighed 14 pounds. Apropos of garnets, the discovery, in the heart of New York city, of as fine a crystal as was ever found on this continent, and weighing 9 pounds 10 ounces, may be mentioned as a matter of peculiar interest.
Several thousand dollars' worth of the wood jasper of Arizona has been cut into paper weights, charms, and other objects, or polished on one side for cabinet specimens. Numbers of these articles are now being cut and sold to tourists along the line of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad.
The compact quartzite of Sioux Falls, Dakota, is being quarried and polished for ornamental purposes. It is known and sold as "Sioux Falls jasper," and is really the stone referred to by Longfellow in his Hiawatha as being used for arrow heads. This stone takes a very high polish, and is found in a variety of pleasing tints, such as chocolate, brownish-red, brick-red, and yellowish. For the two years previous to 1885, $15,000 worth of it was sold.
A remarkable mass of rock crystal has been received by Messrs. Tiffany & Co. from a locality near Cave City, Va. Although this mass weighs 51 pounds, it is but a fragment of the original crystal, which weighed 300 pounds, and which was broken in pieces by the ignorant mountain girl who found it. The fragment, as it is, will furnish slabs 8 inches square and from 1/3 to 1 inch thick. The original crystal would have furnished a ball from 4½ to 5 inches in diameter, and almost perfect. A number of fine agates of various kinds were found by Mr. F.C. Yeomans at the same locality.
The meccanite from Cumberland, R.I., is often spotted with white quartz. It has been cut into oval stones several inches in length, which take a fine polish. This quality, coupled with its hardness, makes it a desirable ornamental gem stone.
Mr. Kunz records the discovery, by himself, in the largest mass of the Glorieta Mountain (Santa Fe County, N.M.), of pieces of peridot of sufficient transparency to afford gems one-fifth of an inch in length.
Large quantities of turquoise from Los Cevillos, N.M., have been sold, both as cabinet specimens and gems; but, unfortunately, many of those of the finest color have been found to be artificially colored.
Malachite in large masses has been found at the Copper Queen mine at Bisbee, Oregon. One of these masses weighed 15 pounds and others were quite as large. All were of good enough quality and large enough for table tops.
In conclusion, Mr. Kunz says that "the National Museum collection of gems, formed by Prof. F.W. Clarke, is now one of the most complete, for species, in the United States, and as many of the gems are of more than average merit, and all can have access to them, this is one of the best opportunities afforded the student in this country."Mineral Resources of the United States: Calendar Year 1885. Washington: Government Printing Office. 1888.