Rare Gems and Minerals in Wyoming

Wyoming is a wonderful state to search for rocks, minerals, and gemstones. Not only is it rich with a variety of minerals, but there are so few people in this state that there are many areas that have not gotten a lot of attention. Some very valuable gems and minerals are still being mined here in Wyoming.

Jade



Jade from Wyoming is a variety known as nephrite. The state produces some spectacular jade specimens that are highly valued by collectors. Many of the better finds are exported to the Asian markets and receive top-dollar. Some carvings and jewelry made out of Wyoming jade have sold for millions of dollars!

Sweetwater County is known for its individual Jade mining facilities. The central part of Wyoming is popular for its Jade variety. The Crook Gap Green Mountain area and places around the Granite Mountain in Wyoming are also known for their Jade claims.

The Wind River Mountain area and few places in Laramie Range, Wyoming have Jade deposits. Large quantities of the gemstone are found in the state that has high commercial value. A small area in Lander, Wyoming is also known to produce jade.

Jade miners have been searching the mountains of Wyoming for many years in search of quality jade specimens. While many areas have been hunted hard, there are still good quality pieces that can still be found today.

Opal



Sources for soluble silica such as volcanic ash beds which are necessary to form opal deposit in Wyoming. The Cedar Rim oil field located south of Riverton is made up of huge amounts of opal. These are quite abundant in this area and extent to the east in the Rattlesnake Hills.

There have also been reports of precious opals in the volcanic rocks of the Absaroka Mountains in the northwestern part of Wyoming.



Petrified Wood



Petrified wood is located worldwide in sedimentary rock areas and volcanic deposits. They are produced when plant remains are buried by sediments and protected from decaying by oxygen and organisms for a long period of time. The wood is petrified by a number of mineral substances such as pyrite, calcite, marcasite and silica, in which silica is the most common mineral that infiltrates the buried wood, and it could take various forms such as agate, jasper or opal.

Petrified woods have various beautiful and attractive colors which are caused by other minerals that enter the wood during petrification process. Oxides of iron also stain the wood with red, rust, orange or yellow while other colors such as blue, black or purple colors are produced by manganese oxides.

The state of Wyoming is blessed with fossil wood and also has many forests that have been petrified.

Deposits of the gem can be located in the Eden Valley, Sweetwater County, Wyoming and the petrified wood found here was formed from plants that existed about 50 million years ago where the features which the rock in this area shows are not seen in fossil wood anywhere in the world.

The process of petrification seen here involves shallow lakes with algae growing. In most cases, the wood came into existence in this water in its live state before drying out and looking like dead old wood.

Amethyst



Amethyst Mountain is located in northwestern Wyoming, and is a well-known sight for amethyst, opals, and a variety of other valuable gems and minerals.

Ferris-Haggarty Mine near Encampment in Carbon County is a copper mine that has reportedly produced amethyst.



Sapphire



Gem like quality stones were initially sighted around the turn of 20th century near the west side of Wheatland. Sapphires are mostly found in vermiculite host rock. Palmer Canyon in Albany District, Wyoming has vermiculite rock deposits. Subtle colored sapphires in light blue, light gray to deep hues such as violet-blue can be found here.

Another Sapphire deposit in Wyoming is found in Grizzly Creek and Sweeny Basin in the Fremont County.

The sapphire deposits here are not as well-known as the sapphire deposits in Montana, but there are several locations where gem quality specimens of this rare mineral can be found.

Barite



There is much to be said about this beautiful piece of stone that has great popularity and likeness among mineral collectors. Barite is generally recognized for its diverse crystal habits and colors. Identification of this exceptionally beautiful gemstone is very easy due to its heavy weight since most minerals that are similar to it are much lighter in weight. Often times, the gemstone replaces other minerals, and replaces materials of organic nature such as wood, fossils and shells.

There have been reported sightings of the aquamarine blue barite, a very attractive and translucent crystal in Wyoming. Barite was located near the Mine Hills of the Shirley Basin, southeast of Wyoming. The gemstone found here occurs in vugs in limestone, enclosed by prismatic quartz.

Sightings of the gemstone have also been made west of Cody, in the Shoshone Canyon area of Rattlesnake Mountain, northwestern Wyoming. The length of some of the crystals located here are said to be up to one inch long. The New Rambler copper-gold-palladium mine located in the Medicine Bow Mountains, west of the Rob Roy Reservoir is not left out in the areas where discoveries were made. White crystalline to massive barite was found in the Hok Park area of the Sierra Madre Mountains, several miles southwest of Encampment.



Jasper



The most enticing feature of this gemstone is its interesting formations and color patterns. Though it can appear as a solid color, most times ringed, mottled, striped or spotted. Each of the gemstone has a special pattern or color, which is the result of it having numerous varieties. The name jasper means “spotted or speckled stone”, derived from old French word “Jaspre”. It is known as an opaque variety of Chalcedony, usually associated with yellow, brown or reddish colors but may not be used in describing other opaque colors of chalcedony like mottled or dark green, black, and orange.

Interestingly, jasper is an ancient gemstone that has been mentioned in other classical sources including the bible. Although it is common and affordable now, jasper in antiquity was seen as a valuable stone. Generally, jasper is not that expensive even when used in jewelry making. It is cut and polished into cabochons and also used as beads for making bracelets and necklaces. The stone is also carved into cameos which can be worn as pendants.

Jasper has many names and varieties. Some variety names are used generally by dealers and collectors, but dealers on their own make up some names to describe a locality or other habits of the stone. Jasper is very common and found all over the world.

Scientists usually consider jasper as a chalcedony and sometimes because of its grainy structure, put it in a group with the quartz. The name of the crystal is derived from Greek which means “spotted stone”. Finely grained and dense jasper contains about 20 percent of foreign materials and this determines its appearance, color and streak. Uniformly, it is rare to get colored jasper, usually it is multicolored, flamed, or striped.