A unique, rare and little-known gemstone, Herkimer diamonds are a delightful stone to add to your collection. But although this gemstone has a diamond-like appearance, high brilliance and sparkle and very good durability, it’s not an actual diamond.
So, what exactly is it?
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 not a diamond at all and has very different properties.
Herkimer diamonds have been used for centuries as gemstones, amulets and in the making of tools. They are some of the oldest gemstones, estimated to be around 500 million years old!
Composed of quartz, Herkimer diamonds are doubly terminated crystals with termination points on either end of the rock. They are known to have 18 naturally occurring facets. Unlike real diamonds, however, 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 them 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 because these aren’t diamonds at all. They’re quartz crystals. 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.
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.
4Cs of Herkimer Diamonds – Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat
When buying a Herkimer diamond, consider the 4cs. Here’s a quick overview of the 4cs of a quality Herkimer diamond.
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. 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 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 diamonds. Sometimes retailers list the Herkimer diamond as a diamond in their jewelry descriptions, which 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 regular wear. While they make good diamond substitutes, they’re nowhere near as hard as diamonds. But they are still ideal for daily wear in special jewelry, like engagement rings or wedding rings.
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.
Having said this, it’s important to remember that Herkimer diamonds aren’t as hard as the top engagement ring gemstones (diamonds, rubies, sapphires, moissanite, morganite etc…) 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
FAQs About Herkimer Diamonds
Can you wear Herkimer diamonds in the shower?
Herkimer diamonds are durable and relatively hardy. They can be worn in the shower, while swimming, or in any other water-related situation.
Do Herkimer diamonds break easily?
No they don’t. These stones are hard enough to be worn regularly and are pretty tough. But if you’re looking for maximum durability, opt for a diamond or sapphire.
Are Herkimer diamonds worth anything?
These stones are much less valuable than actual diamonds or precious gemstones, but they still hold some value. A carat of high quality Herkimer diamond can cost around $100 or more.
What makes a Herkimer diamond rare?
Their age (over 500 million years) and the fact that they’re only found in a few locations make them rare gemstones.
Is a Herkimer diamond a birthstone?
While not technically a birthstone, some people use this as a diamond substitute for April born babies. This is often because of the much more affordable price point of Herkimer diamonds compared to real diamonds.
Herkimer diamonds are little wonders of nature. While not a mainstream stone, they’re beautiful, distinct, and offer many benefits when chosen for jewelry. However, they don’t have the depth of sparkle or the value and prestige that a diamond offers. If these things are of utmost importance to you, go for a real diamond, but if not, enjoy the beauty that Herkimer diamonds offer.