A Misfit Adventure for Sapphires to the Treasure State
They don't call it the Treasure State for nothing.
Montana - the fourth largest US state by area, with an average of just six people per square mile - is one of the country's least populated states. The Treasure State might not be full of people, but it sure is full of natural beauty. That beauty goes beyond the surface, too; navigate deep into Montana's soil, under layers of volcanic ash, and you will find America’s most coveted gemstone, Montana’s sapphire.
Before the discovery of sapphire, Montana was already known for mining gold, silver, and copper. So imagine living in the 1860s, and while mining for gold, somewhat unexpectedly, a whole other jackpot, the discovery of sapphire, was made. This true story happened along the Missouri River. Initially the watchmaking industry capitalized on the availability of this very valuable gemstone supply, however the introduction of synthetic sapphires in the 1940s saved the integrity of these mines. Nowadays, finer Sapphire rough is sold to and sought after by jewellers, gem dealers, and hobbyists the world over.
Misfits Go to Rock Creek
There are numerous sapphire deposits in Montana, with one of the most prosperous being the Rock Creek district just outside of Philipsburg.
The land that the Rock Creek Mine is on was mined for sapphires as far back as 1901 by the American Sapphire and Gems Syndicate. It is currently owned and operated by Potentate Mining, which makes a conscious effort to restore the environment after extraction is complete. Under the stewardship of Warren Boyd and Dr. Kieth Barren, the dig sites are filled with earth and covered with fine material accumulated from the bottom of the pond and then seeded with local plants and grass. By the time winter comes, elk can enjoy the grass as Mother Nature intended.
A couple of our Misfits, Ashkan and Megan, took an insightful field trip to the Rock Creek Mine in June of 2022, where they had the unique IRL experience of observing the sapphire mining process first hand while nurturing meaningful relationships with field experts who perform the laborious and highly skilled work.
What We Learned
Rough sapphires from the mine are sorted by size and then categorized into groups of Fancies (clean stones that have naturally occurring vibrant colours and will not require heat treatment), and those that will undergo heat treatment. The common balance of Montana's sapphires are treated to enhance colour saturation and to remove silk. Fancy unheated Montana sapphires are rare and as such are highly coveted and sold for a premium - especially larger stones. Only 5% of the yearly yield of Montana sapphires are stones over 1ct, with the other 95% of stones ranging from melee sizes up to 70 pointers.
Over the past year, Misfit Diamonds has been curating our own very special collection of heated & unheated Montana Sapphires, which we have listed online in our wholesale catalogue of Sapphires. Shop our current collection of Montana Sapphires here.
Stay tuned over the next few weeks to see the juicy assortment of new heated and unheated Montana Sapphires coming down the pipeline in a variety of Portrait, Rose, Step and Brilliant Cuts.