Arizona is perhaps the best state in the U.S. to search for rare minerals and semi-precious gemstones. There are countless varieties of minerals that are found all throughout the state that are very popular by collectors and jewelers.
Below are some of the most valuable minerals in Arizona and some of the locations where they are found.
The Sleeping Beauty mine of Arizona produces very high and expensive quality of the gem. The turquoise mined here is found in a lighter shade of blue with negligible matrix. These are also known for being one of the most exquisite turquoises found in the United States.
The turquoise from Kingman Mine is also one of the most valuable and sought after stones to be found. The gem is bright blue in color with black matrix.
The Lavender pit mine which is located close to the town of Bisbee in Arizona is famous for its rich blue turquoise stone containing brown matrix and green turquoise as well. Only a limited quantity is procured from the mine presently.
Morenci Mine situated in the southern part of Arizona, though active, does not produce any significant amount of turquoise today.
The Mule Mountains that are located in Cochise County of Arizona are home to the Opal Hill Mine close to the region of Palo Verde. Although the site is famous for its agate, opals have also been discovered here but amount of the stone is not recorded.
Opals have been found at the Burro Creek in Wickenburg. This is a well-known mineral producing area that will produce a wide variety of collectable minerals.
The Southern Sky Opal mines are located in southern Arizona near Tubac in Santa Cruz County. These mines produce a soft blue opal that is highly desirable.
The Mazatzal Mountain Range extends between Gila and Maricopa Counties in the central part of Arizona. These mountains are home to one of the most prominent peaks known as Four Peaks which run from the north towards the south at the southern end of the Mazatzal Range. The Four Peak Mine is located here about 50 miles from Phoenix. The mine is famous for its rich and valuable quality of amethyst that is found here in abundance in the fractures and crevices of the rock formations.
The mine is considered as the most significant source of good quality amethyst production at a commercial site in the Unites States. However, due to the isolated and limited approach to the location of the site, a viable amount of commercial production of the stone becomes challenging and therefore the site is currently being worked only on at a smaller scale.
The deposits consists of precious and rare variety of amethyst and are found in different range of purple color including light purple, darker purple as well as reddish purple.
Another recent site where amethyst has been discovered in Arizona is close to the mine of Santo Nino which is situated in the mining district of Patagonia in Santa Cruz County. The mine is located on the northeastern side of Mount Washington. The exact location of the amethyst deposit can be found towards the west from the mine on the adjoining side of Mount Washington.
Jasper is found in many places in the state of Arizona. It is found in streams and can be spotted on the surface of the ground in places with little or no vegetation. Jasper and agate is available in Arizona in much larger quantities than most other gemstones.
Rodeo Flats which is located in the Arizona plains between the Table Mountain and Sycamore Canyon abounds with the most colorful jaspers. The stone can be seen on both sides of Verde River in the area between the Childs power station and the Brown Springs which is a distance of approximately 10 miles.
Jasper is found on the Kohls Ranch which is at an elevation between 5000 and 8000 feet set amongst a pine forest in the Tonto National Forest area in Gila County of Arizona near the town of Payson. Jasper is available as a float in this region over a large area known as the Christopher Creek. The Jasper is of fine grain grade and has gray and white bands and is often referred to as Zebra agate, though it is actually jasper.
Arizona is considered to have one of the most prolific peridot producing sites in the world. Peridot in Arizona is found in the form of tumbled and faceted crystals with colors such as bright green, olive green and yellowish green. While the tumbled peridot is used for making gemstone trees, beads in jewelry and in mosaics, the faceted ones are used in earrings, pendants, rings and bracelets.
The volcanic field of Peridot Mesa which is situated in the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation of the Gila County of Arizona has a massive deposit of peridot and is known to produce as much as 95 percent of the peridot gemstones in the world. The mesa has a diameter of about three kilometers and is coated with three to six meters thick layer of basalt. The weathering of the basalt layer produces the peridot.
Another locality around the mesa where peridot deposits are found is the canyon and the gullies present just under the mesa which is excavated with the help of bulldozers and sledgehammers. The peridot found in the mesa is granular and is in commercially viable sizes ranging from 6 to 13 millimeters. A few larges samples have also been carved out from the site with a size of around 40 millimeters.
The peridot at the mesa is mined only by the Native Americans from the reservation and is usually marketed in the gemstone industry with the help of local brokers. Those who are large scale miners, sell the product directly in the industry.
Buell Park that lies in Apache County of Arizona at a distance of about 10 miles towards the north of Defiance Fort is another site where peridot deposits are found. The Buell Park consists of a depression with a diameter of about 2 miles and is composed of a volcanic rock cemented with fragments of various minerals known as breccia pipes. This rock and the surrounding soil bordered by the peridot ridge to its southeastern side, hosts the plentiful granular and dispersed peridot among other minerals.
The peridot found here range from 0.5 to 2.5 centimeters across in size and is blemished with colors such as yellowish green to olive green.
Azurite is found in many mines across the state of Arizona. Arizona is a delight for amateur rock and mineral collectors for the ease of rockhounding activities and large number of sites. The state hosts the Tucson Mineral Show annually which is the biggest such event held globally.
The mineral is found in the famous Morenci and Clifton Mines of the Copper Mining District, Shannon Mountains in Greenlee County of Arizona.
Another well known location for azurite is the Copper Queen Mine and the Czar mines situated at the Queen Hill, Bisbee in Warren District of Cochise County. The Bluebell mine in Globe-Miami District of Gila County is also a good source of azurite.
A very dark blue colored azurite has been found from the Mammoth Mine, Tiger in Pinal County while a lighter shade was sourced from the Silver Hill Mine in the Waterman Mountains of Pima County. In Pima County azurite has been also found at Ajo in the New Cornelia Mine. Another site for azurite is the Metcalf Mines, Clifton in Copper Mining District in Shannon Mountains in Greenlee County of Arizona.
In the U.S., Arizona is perhaps the largest producer of malachite as a large copper mining industry was based in the state. Malachite is often found in mines along with azurite. Notable mines where malachite has been found are the Copper Queen Mine in Bisbee of Warren District in the Mule Mountains of Cochise County, the Silver Bell Mine in Turquoise District near Gleeson also in Cochise County. Malachite has been discovered in the Morenci Mine and Humming Bird Mine of the Copper Mining District of Greenlee County. Inspiration Mine in Globe City of Gila County has also been known for malachite deposits. Another location of malachite is the Old Dominion Mine in Buffalo Ridge Extension situated in the Globe-Miami District of Gila County.
The most striking crystals of wulfenite have been recovered from the Red Cloud Mine situated on the Trigo Mountains located in the Silver District of the La Paz County which lies in western Arizona. The crystals of wulfenite found here are reddish orange in color. The Padre Kino Mine which is also located in the Trigo Mountains is also a source for wulfenite.
The Rowley Mine is situated near Theba in Maricopa County. The Mine is known to have produced yellowish orange wulfenite crystals. The crystals found in the mine are usually tabular in form.
The Old Yuma Mine situated in the Tucson Mountains of Pima County have produced a variety of lustrous wulfenite crystals.
The 79 Mine situated in Banner District near Hayden in Gila County is known for its transparent and glassy wulfenite crystals. Towards the north of Hayden, the Finch Mine is also known to produce wulfenite.
The Mammoth-Saint Anthony Mine situated in the Tigre District of Pinal County produces wulfenite crystals that are small and flat as well as tabular. The Tortilla Mountains in Pinal County also produces wulfenite.
The Glove Mine situated in the Santa Rita Mountains near Amado in Santa Cruz County has also produced flat and tabular wulfenite crystals.
The Defiance Mine situated in the Courtland-Gleeson district of Cochise County is known for the closely clustered tabular crystals of wulfenite found here. Wulfenite has also been reported from the Empire Mine in Tombstone District of Cochise County as well as from The Silver Bill Mine in Courtland-Gleeson District of Cochise County. Another location where wulfenite is found in the Cochise County is at the Hilltop Mine located in Rustler Park of California District in the Chiricahua Mountains.
Also Read: Gold Mining in Arizona
Arizona has the largest known deposits of the mineral vanadinite in the United States. Significant vanadinite deposits were found in a number of counties of which the main ones are listed below.
The Old Yuma Mine in the Tucson Mountains of Amole District in Pima County; the Apache Mine in Globe-Miami District of Gila County; the North Geronimo Mine in Silver District in Trigo Mountains of La Paz County; and the JC Holmes Claim in Sonoita Creek of Santa Cruz County.
Other notable mines are the Gray Horse Mine near Dripping Spring Mountains in Riverside District of Pinal County; the Mammoth- Saint Anthony Mine near Tiger in Pinal County; the Puzzler Mine situated in the Castle Dome District in Yuma County; The Hamburg Mine which is also in Yuma County; and the Rowley Mine near Theba in the Painted Rock District of Maricopa County.
Vanadinite is one of the most brilliant and prized minerals found in Arizona, and are very valuable when quality crystals are found.