What's Your Official State Gemstone?

Almost every state here in the U.S. has a state flower, state bird, or some other symbol that represents the natural beauty found in that particular part of the country. Did you know that most states also have official, designated state gemstones? I did a little research and came up with five of my favorite gemstones that just happen to be the official gemstones of nearby states!

Almandine garnet gemstone beads from my adopted home state of New York.
Beautiful blue topaz, the state gem of Texas!

New York: Almandine garnet. Of course, I had to start with New York, my adopted home state where I've lived and worked for the last twelve years. (That, and my home state of New Jersey doesn't have any official gemstones or minerals! Boo!) New York state is actually home to the world's largest garnet mine, although the garnets mined there are used for industrial purposes. I remember when studying geology as an undergraduate, our professor took the class on a field trip up Interstate 87 towards the Canadian border where he showed us where to find rocks full of garnets! Garnets will always be one of my favorite gemstones for jewelry making, and I love mixing them with the bright, cheery yellow of citrine.

This stunning grossular garnet is the state gemstone of Vermont. Photo courtesy of John Dyer.

Vermont: Grossular garnet. Just across Lake Champlain from New York is the great state of Vermont! My Vermont friends tell me, "Vermont isn't just a state — it's a state of mind." Of course, what other gemstone would fit with the Green Mountain state than the lovely greens of grossular garnet? Gem-quality grossular garnets can be found in some of the finest jewelry around. The finest grossular garnets come from Africa, so I can only think that the reason they were chosen to represent Vermont was because of their lovely green color!

Texas: Topaz. It's true, what they say: everything really is bigger in Texas, including the gemstones! Topaz is the state gemstone of Texas, where my sister and my father live, and it comes in so many beautiful variations that I can't pick just one favorite. Topaz beads are relatively hard to find, but topaz gemstones seem to be everywhere.

Turquoise, the state gemstone of Nevada, comes in a beautiful array of colors.

Nevada: Turquoise. I've got more family out in Nevada, where the state gemstone is turquoise. Turquoise is definitely a favorite gemstone of mine for jewelry-making, and I know I'm not alone. There's something about the rich, earthy blues and greens of genuine turquoise that inspire me to pair it with other materials like coral and sterling silver. My favorite piece of purchased jewelry? The turquoise and coral ring my husband bought for me on our first trip out to Las Vegas, Nevada back in 1995!

Aquamarine, in a delicate shade of blue, is the state gemstone of Colorado.

Colorado: Aquamarine. You didn't think I'd leave out the great state where Interweave's home office is located, did you? Colorado reminds me a lot of upstate New York, but with bigger mountains and more horses. I've noticed some beautiful aquamarine beads at the gem shows and bead shows lately, and there are a few good sources to find them online, too. The soft, milky blue of aquamarine gemstones works perfectly with your favorite gold beads and findings. Or try mixing it with fiery carnelian and sunstone beads for a dramatic contrast.

If you're looking to learn some new jewelry-making techniques and find new ways to use your favorite gemstones, check out Gemstone Settings: The Jewelry Maker's Guide to Styles and Techniques. You'll find page after page of expertly illustrated and photographed tutorials for creating outstanding jewelry using sterling silver, handmade settings, or pre-made gemstone settings. There's also a reference guide to popular gemstones, tools, and materials. Get your copy of Gemstone Settings: The Jewelry Maker's Guide to Styles and Techniques and wear your state gemstones with pride!

Not sure what your state gemstone is? Check out this handy list from About.com Geology and find it. Once you know your state gemstone, post it here as a comment. If your state doesn't have a gemstone listed, maybe it's time to contact the governor!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

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