What is the name of the state gem of Idaho?

Travel Destinations

By Laurie Baratti

Idaho is a state located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is known for its natural beauty, including vast forests, stunning mountains, and picturesque lakes. Idaho is also famous for its rich history and culture, which is reflected in its numerous state symbols, including the state gem. In this article, we will explore the state gem of Idaho, its characteristics, significance, mining, and popularity.

What is a state gem?

A state gem is a precious or semi-precious stone that has been chosen by a state as a symbol of its identity and history. Many states in the United States have designated a state gem, which is often a natural resource found within its borders. State gems serve as a way for a state to promote its beauty, culture, and history, and to recognize the importance of its natural resources.

Idaho’s state symbol

Idaho’s state gem is the star garnet. The star garnet is a unique variety of garnet that is found only in Idaho and India. It is a dark purple color with a distinct six-rayed star pattern that appears when the stone is cut en cabochon. The star garnet is considered a rare and valuable gemstone, and it has been highly prized by jewelers and collectors for centuries.

How was the state gem chosen?

In 1967, the Idaho State Legislature designated the star garnet as the official state gemstone. The decision was made after lobbying by the Idaho Gem Club, which argued that the star garnet was a valuable natural resource that was unique to Idaho. The Gem Club also pointed out that the star garnet had been used in jewelry and decorative items for many years and had a rich cultural history.

The gem’s characteristics

The star garnet is a member of the garnet family, which is a group of minerals that share a similar crystal structure. The star garnet is unique in that it has a star-shaped inclusion of rutile in its crystal structure, which gives it its characteristic six-rayed star pattern. The star garnet is also known for its deep, rich purple color, which is caused by traces of iron in the mineral.

Mining of the state gem

Most of the world’s star garnets come from a small area in northern Idaho known as the Emerald Creek Garnet Area. The garnets are found in alluvial deposits, which means they have been eroded from their original location and carried downstream by water. The garnets are extracted using a process called sluicing, which involves washing the gravel with water to separate the heavier garnets from the lighter rocks.

The state gem’s significance

The star garnet is a symbol of Idaho’s natural beauty and its rich mining history. It is also a valuable natural resource that has been used in jewelry and decorative items for centuries. The star garnet has a unique cultural history, and it has been prized for its beauty and rarity by people all over the world.

Similarities with other state gems

Many states in the United States have designated a state gem, and some of them have chosen similar stones. For example, Montana has designated the Sapphire as its state gemstone, which is also a variety of the mineral corundum. The Star Ruby is the state gemstone of Florida, which is also a variety of the mineral corundum. However, the star garnet is unique to Idaho and cannot be found in any other state.

Other symbols of Idaho

In addition to the star garnet, Idaho has several other state symbols, including the state bird (the Mountain Bluebird), the state flower (the Syringa), and the state tree (the Western White Pine). These symbols reflect Idaho’s natural beauty and its unique culture and history.

State gem’s popularity

The star garnet is a popular gemstone among collectors and jewelry enthusiasts. Its rarity and unique characteristics make it a desirable addition to any collection or piece of jewelry. The star garnet is also a popular souvenir for visitors to Idaho, and many jewelry stores and gift shops in the state carry items made from this unique gemstone.

Conclusion

The star garnet is a unique and valuable gemstone that is found only in Idaho and India. It is the official state gemstone of Idaho and is a symbol of the state’s natural beauty and rich mining history. The star garnet’s rarity and beauty make it a popular gemstone among collectors and jewelry enthusiasts, and it is also a popular souvenir for visitors to Idaho.

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Laurie Baratti

Laurie Baratti, a renowned San Diego journalist, has contributed to respected publications like TravelAge West, SPACE, Modern Home + Living, Montage, and Sandals Life. She's a passionate travel writer, constantly exploring beyond California. Besides her writing, Laurie is an avid equestrian and dedicated pet owner. She's a strong advocate for the Oxford comma, appreciating the richness of language.

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