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The Telegram
  • Herkimer Diamond may become official state mineral

  • A gem that glistens throughout the region and has worldwide recognition may soon have an official state title.

    On Tuesday, the state Senate passed legislation that would designate the Herkimer Diamond as the official state mineral. The legislation was sponsored by state Sen. James Seward and by state Assemblyman Marc Butler. The Assembly has not yet approved of the bill.

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  • A gem that glistens throughout the region and has worldwide recognition may soon have an official state title.
    On Tuesday, the state Senate passed legislation that would designate the Herkimer Diamond as the official state mineral. The legislation was sponsored by state Sen. James Seward and by state Assemblyman Marc Butler. The Assembly has not yet approved of the bill.
    “Formed almost 500 million years ago and known worldwide, the Herkimer Diamond deserves to be properly recognized across New York,” said Seward, R,C,I - Oneonta, in a news release. “I am extremely proud that the state Senate has approved legislation naming the Herkimer Diamond as the official mineral of New York state.”
    The double terminated quartz crystals have a diamond shape and are unique to New York. Seward’s office said “they are known around the world as some of the clearest quartz mineral specimens found to date.”
    According to www.geology.com, Herkimer Diamonds “have the typical hexagonal habit of quartz, however, instead of having a termination on one end they are doubly terminated. This is a result of the crystals growing with very little or no contact with their host rock. Such doubly terminated crystals are very rare and this is part of what makes Herkimer Diamonds so popular with mineral collectors.”
    Sometimes referred to as the Little Falls Diamond or the Middleville Diamond, these quartz crystals were first discovered in the 1700s by native Indians who lived in Herkimer County, according to information provided by the Herkimer County Historical Society. These diamonds were not given high value until the 1800s.
    Today, these quartz crystals can still be dug up with some converting the gems into jewelry.
    A 1950s brochure in the historical society files guided diamond hunters on the best places to search for Herkimer Diamonds, including “the outcrops of Little Falls dolomite where they are shown to be exposed.” The author recommends the diamond hunter to secure permission from property owners before doing any excavating.
    Linda Pratt, a historical society volunteer, said she remembers seeing people searching for the Herkimer Diamond.
    “People used to stop driving along the side of the road and chip away at the [rocks],” she said.
    Other state designations include the garnet is the official gemstone; the sea scorpion is the official fossil; the bay scallop is the official shell; the lilac is the official bush; the striped bass is the official salt water fish and the snapping turtle is the official reptile. There is, however, no official state mineral.

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