Gemstone History: The Early Americans Part 2

Posted on January 04 2016

Think about that feeling you get when you walk into a shop or a museum and see a gemstone piece that is completely foreign and new to you. In your own pool of experience, you have made a personal discovery. Now imagine being a miner, cutting through masses upon masses of rock, then setting your eyes upon a stone that has never been seen by human eyes before. A stone that has been around for millions of years, existing in the quiet darkness of a North American cave, to finally be exposed to the light of day and human discovery.

Emerald Mine

(North Carolina Emerald Mine)

As of 1890, emeralds (a subsection of beryls) had been discovered at five different points in Alexander County, North Carolina. Mineralogist Frederick George Kunz fondly recalls the discovery of one particular deposit of unaltered rock. The deposit was found at Stony Point, a locale thirty-five miles southeast of the Blue Ridge Mountains and about 1,000 feet above sea level. William E. Hidden, the superintendent of the mining expedition explained the discovery as such, “Sixteen years ago the site of the mine now being worked was covered with a dense primitive forest. Less than ten years ago (1871), this county was mineralogically a blank; nothing was known to exist here having any special value or interest.” (Kunz, 87-88) Pictured below is an emerald gemstone found near Stony Point in 1971. It is now a part of the National Mineral Collection at the Smithsonian.

Emerald Gemstone

("This beryl (emerald) was found at the Hiddenite and Emerald Mine, near Stony Point, Alexander County, North Carolina in 1971.")

The birthstone of May, Emeralds derive their green hue from the presence of chromium and vanadium. Because the emerald gemstone is rarely flawless, they are often oiled in order to fill in cracks and disguise impurities. (C Hall 75) Emeralds also possess many healing powers and most notably aid in the recovery after infectious illness. Known as the stone of inspiration and infinite peace, it is also the “stone of successful love.” With its calming effects and promotion of mental equilibrium, the emerald enhances unity, unconditional love, partnership, and friendship. (J Hall 126-127)

Gemstone jewelry

Pictured above is a Green Emerald Pendant Necklace with a leather chain and silver detail.

1) Kunz, George Frederick. Gems and Precious Stones of North America; a Popular Description of Their Occurrence, Value, History, Archaeology, and of the Collections in Which They Exist. Also a Chapter on Pearls and on Remarkable Foreign Gems Owned in the United States. New York: Scientific, 1890. Print.
2) Hall, C. (2002) Gemstones. 2nd edn. DK ADULT. Inline citations: (Hall, 2002, p. 75)
3)Hall, J. and Gallagher, A. M. (2003) The crystal bible: A definitive guide to crystals. United States: Writer’s Digest Books. Inline citations: (Hall and Gallagher, 2003, pp. 126 – 127)

WBrittany Curran Writer Blogger Actorritten by Brittany Curran for Cheryl Saban Designs
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