What is a Herkimer diamond? How do you know you are purchasing the real thing? Isn't it just a crystal?
Herkimer diamonds are rare double terminated quartz crystals found only in a small are of Herkimer County, New York. This seems to be the only place that exact right conditions are to make these beautiful jewels. A double terminated crystal has points on both ends instead of just one end. These special crystals were first discovered in the early 1800's by settlers in New York and were named Herkimer diamonds due to their diamond-like shape. A typical Herkimer diamond has 18 facets: six upper, middle, and lower facets. They are also known for being very bright and incredibly clear, although they can also come in other rare formation and colors. Their incredible clarity is ddue to a slightly different ratio of carbon to silicon as compared to normal rock crystal quartz. These rare crystals are able to form double terminated due to their formation in gas bubbles in magma (lava). Other quartz crystals (such as amethyst, citrine, and smoky quartz) grown with only one termination - either imbedded in matrix (the rock base they grow on) or broken away from their matrix, hence the flat or jagged broken end. Smoky Herkimer diamonds are a rich chocolate color rather than the light golden-brown or smoke characteristic of most smoky quartz. Due to their rarity and extremely high quality in comparison to other quartz crystals, Herkimer diamonds often cost much more than regular rock crystal quartz and are sometimes even used in fine jewelry or displayed in museums, like the Smithsonian.
How do you know you are purchasing the real thing?
When purchasing Herkimer diamonds many factors to determine price come into play. First and foremost, make sure what you are purchasing is a true Herkimer diamond. Many sellers erroneously believe that any small double terminated quartz crystal is a Herkimer diamonds and advertise crystals from Tibet, Indian, Mexico, and other locations as being Herkimer diamonds. A real Herkimer diamond is only from Herkimer County, New York, where the special conditions not only cause double terminated crystals but also the exceptional clarity that leads to a high quality crystal. Most of the other quartz crystals do not have the exceptional formation and clarity of a Herkimer diamond. Due to the difference in value of a Herkimer diamond versus a Herkimer-type crystals, be sure you know the seller you are buying from is knowledgeable and reputable. Some Herkimer diamonds run into the hundreds and thousands of dollars, so it is important to know who you are dealing with - just like any other rare or collectible piece.
Since there is no standardized grading system for quartz, like there are for carbon diamonds, each dealer usually creates their own grading system. If they don't state what the difference is between their grades, don't be afraid to ask. They should be able to tell you what type of flaws the crystals posses as well as any other unusual formations or characteristics that lead to a higher price. Consider the size, shape, and clarity. Is it unusually clear for its size? Does it have any striations (markings from other crystals) or obvious flaws? Is it the classic diamond shape or it is another unusal formation? What about facet formations - are there extra faces or any unusually shaped facets? Is there a phantom inside of it? (A phantom is a rare type of formation where several stages of crystal growth are apparent when looking at the crystal. In Herkimer diamonds they usually appear as a dark smaller crystal within a clear crystal or a clear crystal overgrowth visibile surrounding a larger smoky crystal - so that it looks like the crystal has a clear outline around it of crystal). Is it a Herkimer-type crystal (meaning a piece of double terminated quartz from somewhere else that is not of such high quality and value)? These are the factors that go into pricing a Herkimer diamond that the dealer considers and why it is important to know your dealer and their grading system. Don't be afradid to email the seller to ask questions! Most sellers of Herkimer diamonds are rock hounds or jewelers that are knowledgeable about their stock and enthusiastic about sharing that knowledge!
Remember that when buying gemstones and jewelry, the main thing that is important is that you are happy with your purchase and can enjoy it for years to come!
Metaphysically quartz crystals are believed to be the most powerful of healing stones. They are also believed to help align, balance, and unblock the seven chakras (or energy centers). Herkimer diamonds are considered to be the most powerful of quartz crystals. They are also believed to increase psychic abilities, such as clairvoyance and telepathy, and to increase empathy. Smoky Herkimer diamonds are believed to be especially powerful for the earth (base) chakra and to be linked to the earth. Phantom, which indicate a separate phase of crystal growth - an inner and outer crystal - inhance meditation and trances and work to attune the healer to the patient and make healing energy pass more freely and diagnosis of illness easier. Rainbow Herkimers symbolize beauty, light, and joy as well as increasing harmony and deeper connectivity to relationships.
In modern magick, Herkimers are used to boost the effectiveness of spells and bring about changes, especially those from the astral level, more quickly. They are also used to increase power and protection - from disease as well as psychic attacks. They are used to ease channeling and astral projection as well as deepening the trance acheived in meditation and increasing psychic abilities. Phantoms are used link to ancient and Ahkashic records or ancestral knowledge. Rainbows are used to bring happiness, joy, and light to all spells as well as love spells - which can be made stronger with a rainbow Herkimer. Herkimers with apetures are used to prepare gem elixirs for healing and spells and for divination and scrying. Herkimer diamonds are the most powerful of all gemstone magically and can be used in any type of spell or magick. Many witches and mages wear them all the time for protection and to continue the power directed towards spells and rituals once the spell or ritual is complete. They are also the only gem that can be subsituted for a carbon diamond in magic without losing the potency or hampering the desired effect.
Whether you appreciate Herkimer diamonds for their metaphysical qualities, their rarity, or their beauty, they are definitely beautiful treasures!