Are Montana Sapphires Rare
Montana sapphire is not found in very large rough pieces. Considering that a rough nugget will yield a cut stone only about 1/3 of the original size means that large, fine quality faceted Montana sapphires are very rare. It is uncommon to see a fine quality faceted Montana sapphire weighing over 2 carats, gems over 3 carats are extremely rare.
The Natural Sapphire Company
For a unique viewing experience visit our private Penthouse Showroom in Manhattan NYC, by appointment only.
Available Mon – Fri
6 East 45th St, 20th Floor New York, NY 10017, by appointment only
Mining & Sourcing
Mon – Fri: 10:30am – 10:00pm ETSat & Sun: 2:00pm – 10:00pm ET
Mon – Fri: 10:30am – 10:00pm ETSat & Sun: 2:00pm – 10:00pm ET
Montana Sapphire Mining In 2020
The Missouri River, Rock Creek, and Dry Cottonwood Creek deposits are associated with high yields of high-clarity fancysapphires, with colors ranging from light pinks, purples, oranges, yellows, and greens, to pale blues. These sapphires are extremely unique in that they are free of cavities and inclusions and feature high uniform clarity and even coloring.
Untreated Yogo sapphires are famous for their excellent blue color and exceptional clarity and many believe their natural qualities surpass heat-treated stones from all over the world. However, their primary drawback is their small size. Cut gems from Yogo Gulch are very rarely more than one carat in size.
As we move into 2020, the Rock Creek region of Montana continues to show the richest deposits of natural sapphires. Two areas of the region, known as Eureka Gulch and Sapphire Gulch, are being mined with practices that show an incredible amount of respect and responsibility to protecting the land and environment. Sapphire rough from here usually measures in from 2mm to 1 inch in size with a variety of unique and rare colors.
Insider View from the President of The Natural Sapphire Company:
Honestly the first few years of trying to cut rough crystals from Montana I wasnt very impressed. The stones were all light in color, had a lot of color zoning, and generally were much more expensive since mining costs in the United States are quite high.
Don’t Miss: Red Dragon Yoga Schedule
Montana Sapphires And Famous People
Charles M. Russell, also known as C.M. Russell, is considered with Frederic Remington to be one of the two greatest artists of the Old West. Charles moved to Montana when he was 16 and claimed to have learned most of his frontier skills from Jake Hoover. Jake was the Montana gold miner who first noticed the little blue pebbles -that turned out to be Yogo sapphires.
George Frederick Kunz, the foremost U.S. gem expert of the times and gemologist with Tiffany & Co. was among the first to recognize the beauty of the Yogo sapphire. It was on his desk that Jake Hoovers cigar box landed, filled with the little blue sapphires from Montana. Dr. Kunz was a great lover of colored gems, especially American gems. He even had a gem named after him by a fellow gemologist in 1902, Kunzite, the lilac pink variety of spodumene discovered in California.
John Pierpont J.P. Morgan the famous financier is also considered Americas foremost patron of the arts at the turn of the 20th century. Among other things, he was an avid collector of gems and a faithful Tiffanys client. He commissioned George Frederick Kunz to create several important gemstone collections. These he donated to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. 29 Yogo sapphires in the collection can be seen today in the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems. Interesting trivia: The violet pink variety of beryl discovered in Madagascar in 1910 was named Morganite, in his honor by Tiffany & Co.
What Is A Heat Treated Sapphire
Heat-treating is the process of heating sapphires to near the melting point, in order to hopefully improve color and/or clarity. Almost all sapphires and rubies worldwide are enhanced this way. It is completely permanent with the goal of enhancing the colors within the stone. Standard heat-treating is generally accepted in the gem industry for the processing of sapphires. One of the best parts of Yogo Sapphires is that they are not heat-treated, and are naturally that beautiful. We are happy to carry a wide variety of stones at Coins and Carats for you to choose from.
Recommended Reading: Power Yoga Calorie Burn
Difference Between Yogo Sapphire And Montana Sapphire
The term Yogo sapphire is the preferred wording for gems found in the Yogo Gulch. Yogo Sapphires are the only sapphires in Montana still being mined from the primary deposit. Yogo sapphire are typically cornflower blue, a result of small amounts of iron and titanium. They have high uniform clarity and maintain their brilliance under artificial light.
Dick Berg, industrial minerals geologist with the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology in Butte, studies these gems for decade. He found one thing clear, he doesnt know why the 48-million-year-old Yogo sapphires are deep blue where as the other Montana sapphires, like those from the Rock Creek District near Philipsburg and the El Dorado deposit outside of Helena, are much lighter shades. These sapphires require heat treatment to enhance their colors. He speculates that the Yogos cooling history may have something to do with it. Longer cooling times mightve allowed the titanium and iron to spread more uniformly through the crystals, affecting the color. Yogos result from the luck of geologyjust the right elements and just the right cooling history making a gemstone that is just about perfect.
Montana Territories Sapphire Mining
Sapphire production in Montana was, at least initially, a byproduct of the gold rushes of the 1860s. Early prospectors searching for gold in the gravel of the Missouri River repeatedly discarded the annoying blue pebbles that continually clogged their sluices without much thought to what they may be.
The discovery that these stones had value is attributed to Ed Sapphire Collins who forwarded samples of these pebbles to Tiffany & Co. in 1895. When Tiffany purchased the lot for $3,750 and declared that the stones were sapphires of unusual quality, a small-scale sapphire rush began.
A year later, a part-time prospector and sheep farmer, John Ettien, discovered the source of the sapphires an igneous dike about five miles in length. The cornflower blues of Yogo Gulch attracted considerable attention and funding from both domestic and foreign mining companies.
Gold prospectors quickly learned that turning their operations to sapphire mining was proving more lucrative than gold. Stakes claimed along the 5-mile vein of the Yogo dike exchanged hands many times until 1899 when a trio of British businessmen purchased what had been coined the New Mine Sapphire Syndicate for $100,000 .
The operation became unofficially known as The English Mine, and was flourishing for some thirty years until massive flooding in the 1920s damaged the mines so greatly that they never fully recovered.
Read Also: Beyogi Insurance Reviews
Digging Montana’s Yogo Sapphires
Sapphires are the gemstone of royalty dating back to the Romans and Greeks Jewish traditions hold that the Ten Commandments were engraved on sapphire tablets. Some may be legend or myth, but theres no denying that sapphires have an air of mystery and magic, not unlike Montana.
The major deposits found in Montana are in the Yogo Gulch in central Montana, the Missouri River near Helena, Dry Cottonwood Creek near Deer Lodge, and the Rock Creek deposit in the Sapphire Mountains near Philipsburg. I went out on the road to find the story of the yogo sapphire, and in my journey and research I discovered more than I imagined. It had me looking at the little gem with more admirationand left me with more questions.
I pulled up early in front of the Sweet Palace/Sapphire Gallery in Philipsburg, Montana. The aroma of fresh coffee coming out the front door into the crisp morning air was hard to resist, so I wandered into the candy store, hoping someone might take pity on me and offer a cup of freshly brewed coffee. The lady behind the counter smiled and asked if I would like some, and I sheepishly said yes.
Dale pointing out the Yogo road. Photo by Hallie Zolynski.
Shirley got a big smile on her face and said, I know this isnt yogo-related, but did you know that sapphires from the Rock Creek area by Philipsburg were part of the 17-jeweled watch of the railroad when it started?
Shirley proudly said, We tell people we speak sapphire.
Montana Yogo Sapphires Unique Gemology
Despite its Atlantic-to-Pacific land mass, the United States never has been known as a major source for gemstones. The one exception has been sapphire, though the story of Montana sapphires always has been obscured by more exotic locations.
Montana has been an important source of blue sapphire off and on since the 1890s and have unique gemological properties that distinguish them from those mined in other locations around the world, including Kashmir, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Australia. GIA researchers Nathan D. Renfro, Aaron C. Palke, along with Richard B. Berg of the Montana Bureau of Mines, conducted an extensive analysis of gems from the Yogo Gulch deposit, reporting their findings in Gems & Gemologys Summer 2018 issue.
Yogo sapphires chief trait is that many of them have an attractive violet to blue color coming out of the ground and are generally not heat treated the gem-quality stones rarely, if ever, respond to treatments. In addition, the color is generally evenly spread throughout the stones, so they lack the zoning that can be common in sapphires from other locales. Unfortunately, nearly all of the rough crystals are flat, tabular pieces that can only be cut into small gems. Thus, carat-plus sapphires from this source are quite rare.
Even deeper examination found that Yogo sapphires have a distinct trace element signatures with specific values of manganese, chromium, titanium, iron and gallium that are different from other sapphires.
Don’t Miss: Adam Levine Workout
Recognition As A Royal American Treasure
In 1978, another entrepreneur, Victor di Suvero leased the mine from Kunisaki and changed the name to Sapphire-Yogo Mines, Inc. His angle? Promotion was his specialty and he directed his attention toward marketing and advertising on a scale never before attempted. His approach was effective enough to be mentioned in JCK trade magazine in 1978. Over 100 years after being discovered, this was the first official trade recognition of Yogo sapphire!
The article sounds surprisingly modern. Di Suvero hits on points we still appreciate about Montana sapphires:
Diamond prices are much too high, di Suvero says. So were telling Americans of all ages and life styles that weve got a real alternative to diamondsone that is reasonably priced, beautiful, of lasting value and a product of their own country. We think thats an unbeatable combination of factors.JCK Magazine
Vortex Mining began operations in the hills west of the Yogo Dike in 1985 and when Intergem shut down, was the sole mining source of Yogo sapphires for years. It closed down in 2004 and was purchased in 2008 by Mike Roberts. Sadly he was killed in 2012 in a tragic mining accident, and ownership of Roberts Yogo Sapphire Company remains in the hands of his family, as of September 2016.
From 2011-2014 3,000 acres of Montana sapphire-producing land near Philipsburg was acquired by Potentate Mining, which is also mining gold.
Back In American Hands
This time there was a great deal of interest on the part of American companies, they were not going to lose out to foreign interests again! The first one to move toward purchasing the mine was the Yogo Sapphire Montana Company, which, after a lengthy negotiation period, finalized the transaction in 1956. Unfortunately, negotiations had taken so long, a decade, that operating capital was gone. They reorganized under the old British name, the New Mine Sapphire Syndicate and from 1957-1959 mined around 50,000 carats of sapphire, of which only about 4,000 carats was probably of gem quality. Once again, production costs were higher than profits and it ceased operations in 1959.
It then sat idle for several years being temporarily leased to interested parties. One group, headed by Arnold Baron, decided for the first time to also cut and market the gems, not just rough material, in order to make the mining operation financially feasible. Cutting was done in Thailand and Germany, but when marketed in the US, these Montana sapphires were initially met with resistance. Why? Baron explains:
We were pleased with the results in cutting and marketing. At first we encountered more resistance to the Yogo in this country than we did abroadSome Americans thought it wasnt a sapphire unless it came from the Orient. Eventually the American consumer reacted very well to the Yogo, and so did the dealers.
Read Also: Nasolabial Fold Exercise
Discovery Of The Yogo Sapphire
In the early 1980s Intergem Limited controlled most of the Yogo sapphire mining at the time. They started marketing Yogo sapphire as the worlds only guaranteed untreated sapphire. Thus exposing a practice of the time wherein 95 percent of all the worlds sapphires were heat-treated to enhance their natural color. Although Intergem went out of business, the gemstone it mined appeared on the market throughout the 1990s. Citibank had obtained a large stock of Yogo sapphire as a result of Intergems collapse. They hoarded their stock of sapphire for nearly a decade before selling the collection to a Montana sapphire jewelry store in 1994. Mining activity today is largely confined to hobby miners in the area the Vortex yogo sapphire mine is the only major commercial mine currently in operation.
What Colors Are Montana Sapphires And Yogo Sapphires
Because of their pale color, most Montana sapphires werent worth very much prior to the development of heat treatment. Still, some stones have attractive colors prior to treatment.
In the Rock Creek deposit, approximately 15% of rough is a marketable color prior to treatment. This includes shades of blue, yellow, and pink. Still, Montana sapphires, like many sapphires on the market, often have a steely grey component to their color.
Some Montana sapphires from the Missouri River deposit can show color change. Color change in these sapphires results from the trace element vanadium. Often, they appear blue in daylight and violet to purple in incandescent light. Pale colors shift from sky blue to lavender.
Yogo sapphires have a beautiful deep cornflower blue color without any treatment. However, these stones tend to be small, with few above 0.5 carats. Most notably, these sapphires generally lack color zoning, a common phenomenon in sapphire. As a result, these are very fine and untreated specimens, and collectors seek out large, rare sizes.
Don’t Miss: Tone It Up Kettletoning
Good People Great Jewelry
A cornerstone of Bozeman since 1882, Millers Jewelry is the epitome of your hometown jeweler. The store is owned and operated by a local Bozeman family with deep ties to our community. We specialize in Montana Sapphires especially the treasured YOGOS and have the areas largest collection of these special Yogo gemstones. We also pride ourselves on providing the most extensive selection of engagement rings, wedding rings and loose diamonds in Bozeman. And you wont find better estate jewelry around Montana either!
At Millers, you have access to G.I.A. graduate gemologists and world-class bench jewelers to handle just about all of your jewelry and watch needs including repair work, custom design, and appraisals. Please do not hesitate to contact us, whatever your Bozeman jewelry wish may be. We are a full-service store with a group of educated & experienced staff available to assist you.
Established in 1882, this store has clearly stood the test of time. We offer Montana custom jewelry expertise with a personal touch. We are a family business that is hard-working, genuine, knowledgeable, and passionate about what we do. In over 130 years of business, countless satisfied clients have walked through our doors. Theyve given us their trust, and we hope you give us the chance to earn yours. Lets celebrate life together!
Are Montana Sapphires Valuable
Sapphires are one of the so-called Big Three precious colored gemstones: Sapphires, Rubies, and Emeralds. These three have been the most famous and desired colored gems throughout history. What makes Montana sapphires even more valuable to many people is the way they are ethically sourced and mined, with consideration for the environment and an easy to trace mine to market. Just as with other sapphires, a Montana sapphires value will depend on its color, clarity, cut, and carat weight.
Read Also: Yoga Burns Calories
Where Can I Find Montana Sapphires
Right now, Montana sapphires are found in three main places: The Missouri River near Helena, Rock Creek near Philipsburg, and Yogo Gulch.
Since 1993 Gemfix has carried Montana sapphires and was one of the first companies offering them for sale on the internet. We still have one of the best selections and widest variety of beautifully hand cut Montana sapphires because they are Andrews personal obsession! He has been collecting them for decades. The larger ones we have were mined in the 1970s and 1980s, and were obtained from private collectors, often from the original miners and their families. As with all our stones, we cut for maximum beauty, not size. Nearly all of our Montana sapphires are cut by Andrew himself.
Our Tour Of The Yogo Mine
We were lucky enough to get an invite to tour the Yogo sapphire mine. We left early in the morning to start our adventure. Our 3 boys were 10, 12 and 14 and this would be a real adventure for them and an unforgettable experience for us all. It was a long drive to the Judith Basin area. We stopped at a small cafe and had a nice breakfast before we headed out into the mountains to find the entrance to the Vortex Mine. When we arrived, Mike greeted us and our fun was about to start.
We were all given hard hats and a brief explanation of what to expect. We donned our hard hats and headed into the darkness of the famous Yogo sapphire mine. Mike took us down the winding tunnels into the dark to show us where he was working the Yogo sapphire seam. The material doesnt occur in a very wide area but it was hopefully the location of the next big Yogo sapphire. Along the way, we enjoyed beautiful calcite caves lined with sparkling crystals and found delicate mineral specimens that had formed deep inside the earth. Mikes genuine love for the Yogo sapphire was unmistakable and his enthusiasm was contagious.
exciting work took place. Lou, Mikes good friend and helper, and Mikes kids showed us around the jig where we all got to help pluck the fine blue yogo sapphires out of the steel shot.The Natural beauty of these gems never ceases to
Also Check: Calories Burned Yoga X