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May-June 2016

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I thoroughly enjoyed the terrific feature article “Belvidere Mountain Asbestos Quarries, Lowell/Eden, Vermont” by Kenneth S. Carlsen, Marjorie H. Gale, Woodrow B. Thompson, and Matthew Kierstead (November/December 2015, pages 510—546). This comprehensive paper, which covers all aspects of the locality and is so richly illustrated with historical photographs and mineral specimens—including 8 pages of beautiful grossulars—is sure to become a classic reference. I sincerely hope copies will be donated to Vermont's state and local museums and libraries to be shared by all. There is something for everyone in this article; it makes a wonderful reference and is a pleasure to read right through the last page, which ends with a delightful painting of a woodchuck at his burrow surrounded by crystals. I was especially pleased to learn about the special grossulars found in the locality, in particular the blue crystals of figure 49 and the 1.85-carat deep red grossular gem faceted by Jay Medici from a crystal collected by his father, John Medici (fig. 45). In addition to garnets, it was extremely interesting to learn about the astounding diversity of minerals found in this area. I purchased extra copies of the issue as gifts for geologist and gemologist colleagues who have a soft spot for Vermont and for garnets. I am sure that this issue will appeal to many in a wide range of geological fields and mineralogical interests—I hope there are enough copies for all who will be sure to want them! This and other articles in the issue, as well as in past issues, are what make Rocks & Minerals such a very fine hard-copy publication. Sincere congratulations to Rocks & Minerals and to the authors!


I have been a field collector of Herkimer quartz for twenty years and recently acquired a rare specimen from a collection I purchased. It is a water-clear Herkimer floater jewel with a fully suspended smoky Herkimer as an inclusion (see photo). The specimen was found at the Ace of Diamonds mine in Middleville, New York, and is about a half-inch in size. I have seen thousands of Herkimers in my lifetime but never one like this. The specimen clearly shows there was some amount of time between smoky deposition and clear crystal formation. It is a mystery how it can “float,” but I suspect there was a silica gel or silica-rich fluid that surrounded and suspended the smoky quartz while it crystallized.

The water-clear Herkimer quartz with a suspended smoky Herkimer quartz as an inclusion. Blake Barnett photo.

The water-clear Herkimer quartz with a suspended smoky Herkimer quartz as an inclusion. Blake Barnett photo.


The thirty-eighth annual symposium held in conjunction with the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show® will take place on Saturday, 11 February 2017. The symposium is cosponsored by the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society, the Friends of Mineralogy, and the Mineralogical Society of America. As a tie-in with the show, the symposium theme is the same as the show theme: Mineral Treasures of the Midwest. Presentations on descriptive mineralogy, classic and new localities, and related subjects are welcome. An audience of amateur and professional mineralogists and geologists is expected.

Anyone wanting to present a paper should submit a 200—300-word abstract to Julian C. Gray, Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals, 26385 NW Groveland Dr., Hillsboro, OR 97124; Presentations will be twenty minutes in length. Abstracts must be submitted by 31 August 2016.


In my 2016 January—February article on “U.S. Gemstones That Are Blue” I briefly noted that in January 1971, Colorado State Representatives Kathryn Munson of Colorado Springs and Floyd Sack of Lakewood submitted a bill to make aquamarine the state gemstone. This single sentence left unsaid all the lobbying and communication work that was required to achieve the success of this state gemstone (Fillmore 1971).

Although the earlier efforts of the Colorado Mineral Society in 1950 to proclaim aquamarine as the state gemstone were not successful, the Colorado State Federation of Gem and Mineral Societies started, in September 1968, to again convince the state legislature to designate an official state gemstone. As president-elect of the State Federation, Max Fillmore, a former president of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society, took charge of these efforts. He consulted with Representative Kay Munson and obtained her verbal support. Survey letters were sent to all Colorado member societies in February 1969 to determine their choices. By August 1969, the results showed that the clubs wanted aquamarine as the state gemstone, granite as the state rock, and amazonite as the state mineral.

Shirley Brabson and Max Fillmore prepared a draft proposal for these three state emblems that was provided to Representative Munson. The legislature asked for and was provided via Munson mineral samples in support of the proposed bill. Other difficulties were faced, but ultimately Munson wrote to Gov. John Love, enclosing a copy of the proposed bill, with some attractive aquamarine samples as illustrative material. The samples came from Colorado Springs club members Frank Barnes, Clarence Coil, and George Fisher. As should have been expected, questions began to arise from the state geologist and others who were not involved in the mineral club survey. The Colorado School of Mines did not object and in fact seemed to favor designating aquamarine as the state gemstone. Finally, the bill was approved, although the challenges were considerable for what seems today a trivial decision.


Fillmore, M. 1971. Aquamarine becomes state gem. Pick and Pack (bulletin of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society) 17 (5): 1, 11.

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