Deep in the Rocky Mountains of the Western US, ancient rocks that some geologists estimate to be more than a billion years old, were exposed to extremely high temperatures and pressures while buried deep inside the Earth’s crust. Geological forces changed these rocks into valuable gemstones and minerals like gold, and they were eventually forced to the surface millions of years ago.
This geologist – now known as The Jurassic Sandman – was invited in about 1988 to lecture at Montana Tech’s School of Mines & Engineering. There I met an old professor that related stories to me of the old mining and prospecting days in the Northern Rockies. I listened, fascinated by what he was telling me because some seemed hard to believe.
I researched some of my favorites and not only did they turn out to be true, they lead me to one of our earliest sands – Ruby Red Garnet. Now I wasn’t the geologist that discovered the deposit - that happened well over a 150 years ago by prospectors searching for gold.
A little history on where to find gold before I tell you the story that truly fascinated me. We all are familiar with miners panning for gold nuggets and striking it rich. That rarely happened because big gold nuggets are not that common. What is quite abundant though are small nuggets and flakes of gold that a gold pan can capture.
Well, the miners found a way to wash tons of sand and gravels that contained a lot of gold and recover them using a sluice box. And here are the two things the old professor told me that caught my attention:
- The prospectors found a spot so rich with gold that they recovered 2 million ounces of gold (at today’s prices of $1,200 an ounce that is equal to $2.4 billion dollars)!
- A big problem the miners had was sand-sized Garnets were so plentiful that they clogged up their sluices.
So, while there was a lot of gold, there was even more Garnet, enough they said to make the soil a ruby-red color. The miners wanted the gold and so they left the Garnet behind until the gold was all mined out.
Some years ago, The Jurassic Sandman contacted the modern-day miners who were working the deposit and started buying their garnets. And being geologists, we typically name the rock formation after the first place it was discovered and Ruby Red was the nickname because of the location and color of the Garnets.
Unfortunately, after many years of operation they closed the business and the supply stopped. Finally, after a ten year break The Jurassic Sandman located a miner in the West that was producing a different color variety of Garnet. This is the one you have today – we call it Purple Pink Garnet for the beautiful two-tone color.
I hope you enjoyed this trip through history and enjoy this fabulous gemstone as much as we enjoy bring something special from the Earth to you. I often repeat that Mother Nature is the one responsible for creating treasures like Purple Pink Garnet and I’m just the geologist that is fortunate to be able to bring it to your attention.
Best regards - Jerry Bergosh, Chief Geologist – Jurassic Sands
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