On April 1st, Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club was planning to open its 2020 field season with a visit to Ace of Diamonds in Middleville, NY. The coronavirus has intervened with our plans and this annual rite of passage is not possible this year, but we can spend time enjoying the Herkimers we have collected on past trips.
For most folks these are small- or modest-sized crystals collected from the piles of rock the owners have hauled from their active, off-limits, mining area behind the hill. And I certainly spend time digging and breaking large rocks in search of centimeter or inch-sized diamonds. But, when the club visited last October, just before the site went into its annual hibernation, I did something a bit different.
Spring has arrived and Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club did not let any grass grow under its feet before activating its field season. In fact, we did not even let the snow melt.
It was April, it was opening day, and there were diamonds involved. But no, it was not baseball. Rather, April 1 is opening day for “Herkimer diamond” hunting at Ace of Diamonds Mine in Middleville, NY and 12 intrepid WCGMC members put on their boots and their woolies and made the annual trip. Exposure was limited and the snow prevented the owners from bringing in new rock. But there were still “diamonds” to be found and the sun was out to warm our hearts if not our hands. April 1 may actually be more tolerable than August 1. We even signed up a new member while digging, welcoming Donna Dow to our growing family of crazed collectors.
All New York mineral collectors have a soft spot for Herkimer diamonds and now there is a comprehensive book dedicated to one of our favorite minerals.
Thanks to Mike Walter, a teacher and mineral dealer by trade, but a true collector by heart, we can learn more about the little (and sometimes not so little) doubly terminated clear quartz crystals than most thought probably could be known.
Most of you likely know that the Eurypterid (a Silurian-age sea scorpion) holds official status as the state fossil of New York. But did you know that our esteemed government bodies in Albany are busy working on the monumental task of assigning an official state mineral? Bet it will not take you much time to decide what mineral they are considering.
Yes, on April 28th, 2014 the New York State Senate passed legislation that could officially assign the “Herkimer diamond” as the official state mineral. The legislation was sponsored by Senator James Seward of Oneonta, who proclaimed that doubly terminated clear Herkimer diamonds were “formed almost 500 million years ago and deserve to be properly recognized across New York.” Senator Butler’s website goes on to say that Herkimer diamonds are “known around the world as some of the clearest quartz mineral specimens found to date.”