Throughout time, people have believed in the healing properties of gemstones. Ancient Egyptians adorned themselves in amethysts and jasper. Ancient Chinese buried princes and princesses in jade suits with the hope it would provide eternal life. Gods in Greek mythology exalted the supernatural powers of gems to heal and protect while the ancient Japanese believed that quartz was perfection, formed from the breath of a white dragon.
The age of a gemstone can date back millions or billions of years. Most are formed in the earth’s crust when an initial compound comes into contact with the perfect combination of temperature, pressure, time, and space. The best-known gem, the diamond, is formed deep in the earth’s mantle, approximately 100 miles below the surface. Over vast stretches of time, they are brought near the surface by violent volcanos or other geological events. Researchers believe most diamonds were formed within the first few billion years of our planet’s history.
Perhaps the phenomenon of our fractured earth yielding such beauty is responsible for the connection people feel between Mother Nature’s gems and their own spiritual being. Dennis Tanjeloff, owner of Astro Gallery of Gems in Boise, says there are people who walk into the gallery and feel overwhelmed from the energy from the stones. “Quartz, after all, is the mineral that creates the field that makes your watch work,” Tanjeloff says, noting that every gem and crystal releases a different electromagnetic field.
For some, these energetic properties are channeled with chakra work, meditation, or feng shui practices with crystals or other gemstones. Modern day talismans may be a raw crystal or an amulet made of gems. Whatever the modality, venturing into the metaphysical realm of crystals and gems is anything but intimidating. A good place to start is with quartz, which is popular and accessible. Citrine, a type of quartz, is thought to bring good fortune, amethyst to bring strength and courage, and rose quartz to promote love. Perhaps the best way to determine the right crystal or gemstone for you is to simply find one you connect with and enjoy it in all its beauty and mystery, as we have throughout the ages.
So, you want to be a rockhound?
Idaho is known as the Gem State for a reason. The state’s unique geology yields gems such as quartz, topaz, sapphire, ruby, mica, and garnet. The state stone—the star garnet—is only found in Idaho and parts of India.
One way to learn about rockhounding is to contact your local gem club. There are groups in Twin Falls, Boise, and Caldwell that hold monthly meetings and organize field trips and gem shows.
If you prefer to go it solo, the northern and eastern parts of the state are some of the richest and most productive. There are many restrictions and limitations, so be sure to pick up a rockhounding guide and do some research first. A few Idaho locations to consider when getting started:
• Emerald Creek in Latah County for star garnets
• Rabbit Springs in Twin Falls County for thundereggs
• Salmon River at Yankee Fork for garnet, jasper, and agate
• Trail Creek in Blaine County for dusty quartz and pyrite