Jewelry Guide

Herkimer Diamonds – A Comprehensive Guide to this Little-Known Gemstone

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A unique, rare and little-known gemstone, Herkimer diamonds are a delightful stone to add to your collection. This gemstone has a diamond-like appearance, high brilliance and sparkle and very good durability. Herkimer diamonds can be made into all sorts of jewelry to suit a range of styles, be it chic and modern or boho and natural.

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Let’s take a look at Herkimer diamonds in closer detail.

What are Herkimer Diamonds?

A Herkimer diamond is a type of crystal that at first glance looks like a diamond. However, it’s far very different from diamonds. These have been used for centuries as gemstones, amulets and in the making of tools. The stones themselves are over 500 million years old!

large herkimer diamond

Herkimer diamonds are popular among collectors. See this on Etsy.

Composed of quartz, these are doubly terminated crystals with termination points on either end of the rock. They are known to have 18 naturally occuring facets. Unlike real diamonds, Herkimer diamonds are mined above ground, making them more ethical and sustainable than mined diamonds.

Most crystals grow with a lot of reliance on the host rock, however Herkimer diamonds have little contact and grow almost on their own, often in clay deposits. This makes Herkimer diamonds very rare and highly popular among gemstone lovers and mineral collectors.

Are Herkimer Diamond Real Diamonds?

No, they are not. The name Herkimer diamonds is a misnomer is because these aren’t diamonds at all. They’re quartz crystals. Those who aren’t aware of this can be fooled into thinking that Herkimers are diamond crystals as the stone can look like a diamond to the untrained eye. The retailer must make sure that they have clearly explained this difference to the customer.

The Herkimer diamond gets its name from the fact that large deposits were found in Herkimer County, New York. However, you can also find deposits in China, Norway, Afghanistan and Ukraine.

4Cs of Herkimer Diamonds – Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat

Herkimer diamonds are hard enough to be cut into most gemstone shapes. They are commonly faceted to accentuate their sparkle, but they can also be cut en cabochon or used in their raw state.

These stones are almost always transparent and have very good clarity. However, sometimes specimens can contain impurities and flaws such as air bubbles, black carbon deposits or rainbow inclusions. However, high quality Herkimer should be eye-clean.  

These gemstones can vary in color from transparent and colorless to smoky. The colorless variety looks very similar to diamonds but are more glass-like and don’t contain the depth and brilliance that is associated with diamonds. However, high quality specimens have impressive brilliance especially when viewed under natural light.

herkimer diamond eternity ring

Smoky colored Herkimer diamond. See it on Etsy.

Herkimer diamonds come in a variety of sizes and can be found used in jewelry in small or heavier carat weight. Because this is a rare gemstone, large Herkimer stones can be relatively expensive.

The value of the Herkimer diamond is determined by the above 4Cs. Prices can range depending on the quality of the gemstone and the workmanship of the jewelry. In general, most Herkimer jewelry is reasonably priced but high-quality pieces can cost thousands of dollars. This 50 carat Herkimer pendant is an example of that.

Some retailers provide a certificate of authenticity to go with their Herkimer diamond jewelry. Check with your retailer prior to purchase if they provide a certificate, if you’re worried about buying low quality or fake Herkimer diamond. Sometimes retailers list the Herkimer diamond as a diamond in their jewelry descriptions. This can be misleading so always enquire if you have any doubts.

Are Herkimer Diamonds Good for Engagement Rings?

Herkimer diamonds rank at 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, meaning that they are hard enough for occasional wear. While they make good diamond substitutes, they’re nowhere near as hard as diamonds and aren’t recommended for daily wear in special jewelry like engagement rings or wedding rings.

herkimer diamond engagement ring

Herkimer diamond engagement ring on Amazon.

However, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t wear a Herkimer diamond engagement ring. There are many beautiful designs available featuring Herkimer diamonds and with their sparkle and diamond-like look, it’s easy to fall in love with the idea of a Herkimer diamond engagement ring.

Just ensure that you understand the risks that come with them and maintain the stone by cleaning and caring for it (more on that below).

How to Clean and Care for Herkimer Diamonds

Keeping your Herkimer diamond clean and cared for will ensure that it sparkles beautifully and that its life is prolonged.

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For example, minimize the gemstone’s exposure to wear and tear and clean the gemstone periodically. Don’t wear your ring when engaging in vigorous physical activities like gardening or playing sport and avoid submerging the ring in salty or chlorinated water like swimming pools or the sea. Take the ring off when cleaning or doing the dishes, situations in which the gemstone would be subject to harsh chemicals.

When cleaning the gemstone, use a mild liquid soap, warm water and soft toothbrush or cloth to clean it. Avoid harsh detergents and vigorous rubbing. Don’t put the gemstone in an ultrasonic cleaner as this can cause damage to them.

Herkimer Diamond Jewelry

Herkimer diamonds can be crafted into a variety of jewelry styles. They can be made into rings, bracelets, pendants or earrings… you name it.

Herkimer diamond jewelry are a favorite among boho and hippie jewelry style lovers. A search on Etsy or Amazon will reveal stylistically simple and close to nature jewelry designs featuring Herkimer diamonds.

herkimer diamond boho ring

A natural Herkimer diamond ring. See it here.

herkimer diamond earring climber

Herkimer diamond ear climber. See it on Etsy.

But Herkimer diamonds can also be made into chic and elegant pieces that can be worn to any occasion.

Herkimer Diamond Symbolism

Herkimer diamonds are believed to have strong energy and are commonly used in healing, mediation and for various spiritual work. They’re a favorite for those who use healing crystals and are highly valued for these properties. Herkimer diamonds are also thought to contain physical, spiritual and emotional healing energies and are believed to help you attune to your environment and the people around you. These gemstones are also used to activate and open your Chakras, especially the Third Eye and Crown Chakras. Due to these beliefs, the Herkimer diamond enjoys a valued position in the world of crystal healing.

*Disclaimer: Jewelry Shopping Guide does not guarantee or validate any of the claims related to the metaphysical and alternative healing powers of this or any other gemstone. This information should in no way be used as a substitute for medical advice.

Where to Buy Herkimer Diamond Jewelry

When looking for unique and lesser known gemstones like Herkimer diamonds, it’s best to take your search to the two most famous online marketplaces Amazon and Etsy as they have impressive collections on offer.

Each platform has unique handmade and artisan designs available from multiple independent jewelry boutiques. As each Amazon and Etsy shop has its own polices, it might take some time to review all their details ahead of making a purchase, but that’s usually time well-spent.

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