Herkimer diamonds are having a *moment,* aren't they? And it's no surprise. Herkimer diamonds are magical. Good quality herkimers are luminous, perfectly faceted, but filled with the charm of naturally formed minerals. But what are herkimer diamonds, exactly, and what makes them valuable?
Herkimer diamonds are naturally formed quartz that are doubly-terminated and have 18 facets - they have two finished and formed points on opposite ends. This means that instead of growing off of another stone, they form naturally in materials soft enough that they are loose and free and are not damaged when they are broken off of their mother stone, as is the case with so many other gems. Lore says that this pre-formed completeness gives the stones unique power and clarity, making them preferred crystals for healing and meditation practices.
Herkimer diamonds are quartz, which means that they are not in the diamond family. They are named for their best known mine in Herkimer, New York, but herkimer diamonds are naturally formed in many places around the world (China, Norway, Ukraine, Arizona, and Afghanistan), which is why the are some times also referred to as diamond quartz.
While the clearest herkimer diamonds have my heart, they have a few unique variants which I think are utterly charming and interesting. One variety is a salt and pepper variant which has carbon deposits in it (just like salt and pepper diamonds - now you're starting to see how there are so many similarities between the two!). The "pepper" is a great contrast to the clarity of the stone and can be a really captivating feature. Another variant is "petroleum" herkimer diamonds, which have little golden deposits of oil inside of them, which, under black lights, glow blue and fluoresce! The oil is still liquid, so bubbles can occasionally be seen moving within them, too. One of my favorite variants is when a stone will grow enough that it starts growing its own baby herkimers.
With any herkimer variant, the value of the stones is similar to the 4 Cs of diamond assessment: Clarity of the stone (how easy to see through, how clear), cut (which in this case would be its naturally formed shape), color (generally, this means being a nice clean white, though in variants, part of that color would also be how deeply black the carbon is and how bright the yellow and the fluorescence), and carat weight (always, larger stones have a higher value per weight, as they are rarer).
So, now that you know all about herkimers, which ones are your favorite? Do you love that bright clarity, or have you been enchanted by petroleum herkimers?