Herkimer diamonds

Herkimer diamonds (1)In my crystal cabinet I have a pair of beautiful little crystals called Herkimer diamonds.

These are tiny – less than an inch long – and they are not diamonds at all, but a type of double-pointed clear quartz.

The name ‘Herkimer‘ comes from Herkimer County in New York State, where the crystals occur in outcrops of dolomite.   A couple of mines are open as visitor attractions, allowing people to hire tools and do some prospecting for their own crystals.

Herkimer diamonds are thought to have been created about 300 million years ago, when liquid seeped into cavities in the dolostone bedrock.   These cavities are thought to have been left by decaying plants because they are often lined with anthraxolite, a hydrocarbon which is derived from organic material.

The crystals always have 18 facets, and they are double-terminated because they do not have an affinity with their host bedrock, so they will not attach to it.  Their silica-rich composition gives them a greater clarity than ordinary rock crystal.


Herkimer diamonds (3)

Little pockets known as inclusions occur within the clear quartz.  The blackish inclusions are anthraxolite, while the yellow ones are petroleum.  The petroleum pockets are still liquid, and when you study them closely you can see tiny bubbles of air trapped inside.

Looking through a magnifying glass, I can get some of these air bubbles to move when I tilt the stone – it’s like playing with a spirit level!

Herkimer diamonds (2)

Properties of Herkimer diamonds

The native American Indians called Herkimer diamonds ‘spirit stones’.   In crystal healing, they are used as an amplifier of energy, and are said to boost clairvoyance.  They will help you connect with your guardian angels and will allow two or more people to stay attuned to each other, even when they are physically apart.

Herkimer diamonds are believed to promote prosperity and a positive outlook on life.  When placed in the workplace they can clear electromagnetic pollution, and if you are doing research they will help to store knowledge.  I’m not exactly sure how they can do this, but I’m putting one on my desk right now!


Photos copyright © Jo Woolf


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  • Pat

    I could sure use one of those on my desk! Fascinating, I hadn’t heard of these. Hard to imagine a liquid being sealed in crystal.

  • mmmmikkimac1

    my parents visited the place where these are found in 1961 and I have a number of cut and uncut stones – the largest is set into a square sterling silver frame over an inch wide and over an inch tall and about 1/2 inch thick that my Mom wore on special occasions – I have a small stone also set in sterling silver that is about the size of the short finger nail of a woman’s middle finger and several other cut stones of various sizes.

    • Jo Woolf

      How lovely! They sound beautiful, and really precious because of how you came to have them. It must have been such fun for your parents to go and find their own stones! Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

  • Moira Goodman

    These stones are truly remarkable and beautifu Jo. Thanks for telling us all about them. Would love to find one of these!!

    • Jo Woolf

      You’re most welcome, Moira, and thank you for your lovely comments. I’d love to find one of these too – and how curious that they are not ‘attached’, so they just occur as loose crystals inside a cavity. Geology is endlessly fascinating!

  • Dick Webster

    Herkimer diamonds have been a fascination of mine for many years. I had opportunity to search for and collect quite some number of them, back in the 1960’s. At that time, the commercial operation was a tourist attraction that an individual or group could buy tickets for and then go out in the search area and sift dirt or just keep an eye out for sparkles. At the time, the largest ones, found commonly, were about the size of a coffee can and all the way down to microscopic size. The largest that I found were about egg-sized and lots of smaller ones. As a tourist attraction, the management would stir up the search area with a bulldozer every couple of days and fresh sparkles were constantly being turned up.

    • Jo Woolf

      How fantastic! I can only imagine the excitement! Herkimer diamonds are beautiful and I love the inclusions in them too. Mine are treasured and I get them out often to look at them afresh. Thank you for sharing your memories – fascinating! 🙂

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