What is a Herkimer Diamond? | The Diamond Reserve

What is a Herkimer Diamond?

Herkimer diamonds are double-terminated quartz crystals, boasting exceptional clarity and natural facets. These crystals were formed millions of years ago within the dolostone rocks of Herkimer County, New York, and the surrounding Mohawk River Valley. The crystals are stunning works of nature that have a diamond-like geometrical shape hence the name Herkimer “diamonds”. While not actually diamonds, they are lovely gems that make for unique jewelry. 

Herkimer Diamonds: A Spark of New York Magic

Herkimer diamonds are a unique type of quartz crystal discovered within exposed outcrops of dolostone around Herkimer County, New York and the Mohawk River Valley. Herkimers are doubly terminated crystals, meaning they are pointed on both ends. Since quartz typically has only one termination, Herkimers are a distinctive exception. Their uncommon shape is a result of the crystals growing with very little or no contact with their host rock.

Distinct Characteristics:

  • Double-Terminated: Unlike most quartz crystals, Herkimers have a unique feature, they possess natural terminations (points) at both ends. This gives them a distinctive hexagonal shape with 18 facets (six on each pointed end and six on the central body).
  • Crystal Clear Brilliance: Herkimer diamonds are renowned for their exceptional clarity, often appearing virtually flawless to the naked eye. This transparency allows light to pass through effortlessly, creating a captivating sparkle.
  • Naturally Faceted: Mother Nature does the groundwork! Herkimer diamonds grow with minimal contact with surrounding rock, resulting in their naturally formed facets.

The bedrock in which these special quartz crystals are found began forming approximately half a billion years ago during the formation of the rock strata Dolostone. While still beneath the sea, water seeped through creating “vugs” which are a cavity or large pore in a rock that is commonly lined with mineral precipitates. Herkimers are sourced above ground by cutting open rocks and searching for them in these open cavities. 

Because the first discovery sites were around Herkimer including Middleville and Little Falls, the crystal is also known as a Middleville or Little Falls diamond. They became largely recognized after workmen discovered them in large quantities while cutting into the Mohawk River Valley dolostone in the late 18th century. Although these double-pointed quartz crystals have also been found in abundance in Tibet and Afghanistan, as well as in other countries only crystals found in and around Herkimer received that name. 

Are Herkimer Diamonds Good for Engagement Rings?

The “diamond” in a Herkimer’s name is due to both their clarity and natural faceting as these crystals possess double termination points and 18 total faces (six on each point and six around the center). Herkimer crystals are often used in jewelry because their natural “facets” are both beautiful and interesting. These characteristics result in a natural sparkle that can only be obtained in faceted diamonds through time-consuming work. Because they are uncut, untreated and left with their natural faceting, no two are exactly the same.

Actual diamonds are found in a rough form that requires cutting to get smooth faces and a desired geometrical shape. Herkimer diamonds on the other hand are beautiful as soon as you take them out of the rock or clay deposits. While actual diamonds are found and mined miles below the earth’s surface, Herkimers are sourced above the ground, making them one of the “greenest” gemstones. Herkimers also cost significantly less than diamonds. 

With a value of 7 on Mohs scale, Herkimer, like all quartz, is hard enough for daily wear, but may be prone to scratches, so you may want to consider a more protective setting if you choose this stone for an engagement or wedding ring. These stones are typically transparent and pack some serious sparkle. A Herkimer is perfect for those that find beauty in a raw, earthy and organic look and enjoy the uniqueness that each stone possesses. 

Whether you’re looking for a unique piece of jewelry or simply captivated by the wonders of geology, these sparkling gems offer a touch of magic from New York. If you have questions about creating the perfect engagement ring or custom piece of jewelry, give us a call at 303-385-8449 or click here to schedule an appointment.