Garnet – January Birthstone

Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club has decided to make 2016 the year of the Birthstone.  And isn’t garnet a great way to get started!

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Garnets are hard  (Moh’s hardness of 6.5-7.5), or as hard or harder than quartz.  As members of the isometric crystal system garnets are symmetric with three equal and perpendicular axes.  Garnets are colorful: red, yellow, green and many shades of each.  And garnet is the birthstone for all born in January.

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Ace of Diamonds for Stromatolites?

OK.  Admit it, you thought this would be a note about the spectacular doubly terminated clear quartz crystals hiding in vugs in dolostones.  Referred to as Herkimer diamonds, and known to mineral enthusiasts from across the country simply as “Herks” there has sure been enough written about them to last a lifetime.  And goodness knows we all like to travel to Herkimer County to collect them.  But no, this is not just another article about quartz.

Stromatolites are bio-chemically supported structures formed in shallow water when microscopic cyanobacterial material (formally known as blue-green algae) acts to bind and eventually cement sedimentary grains into what are essentially microbial mats.  Changing climatic conditions, water depth, sediment influx, or the biology of the micro-organisms themselves leads to finely layered biochemical accretionary structures.

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Yellow Mineral Sunshine

Yellow is the color of sunshine, of brilliant warm summer days.  It is the color of bananas, lemon meringue pie and butter pecan ice cream.  There are beautiful yellow breasted birds and wondrous yellow flowers.  Some cultures view yellow as the color of happiness, amusement, and even optimism.

All that is well and good, but yellow is also the color of wulfenite, sulfur, heliodor and a number of other wondrous minerals and gems.  And, of course, it is the color of gold.  It was with this appreciation of the color yellow that WCGMC convened in November for a celebration of “Yellow Minerals”.

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