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What Is A Herkimer Diamond?

Written by Anna Currell
February 9, 2024

Herkimer diamonds have fascinated jewelry lovers and geologists alike for generations. Found in New York's Mohawk Valley, Herkimer diamonds are known for their outstanding clarity and distinctive shape. If you’re asking yourself, “what is a Herkimer diamond?” you’ve come to the right place! In this article we’ll tell you all about Herkimer diamond characteristics, where they come from, and the pros and cons of using them in jewelry. 

Herkimer Diamond Properties

Despite its name, a Herkimer diamond is not a diamond at all — it’s actually a type of double-terminated quartz crystal. This means that the crystal has two pointed ends on either side of a beautifully elongated quartz. Its shape lends itself well to all different kinds of jewelry, which is why you can find Herkimer diamonds in rings, necklace pendants, bracelets, or earrings. 

Herkimer diamonds are often described as vitreous, which means they’re practically transparent. It doesn't have the same sparkling effect as a diamond, but rather more of a sea glass texture. A Herkimer diamond ranks at seven on the Mohs Hardness scale, which measures the hardness and durability of minerals. For comparison, diamonds are the hardest at a 10 ranking. This means that Hermiker diamonds are relatively durable, but can get scratched more easily than diamonds. Other gemstones that share Herkimer diamonds’ Mohs Hardness ranking include tourmaline and garnet, for reference. 


Where Herkimer Diamonds Come From

Herkimer diamonds aren’t a new discovery; in fact, they’ve been around for thousands of years. The Mohawk people indigenous to the region where they occur naturally used Herkimer diamonds as tools and for trading. Now, the area where they are found is called Herkimer County in upstate New York. One of the unique things about Herkimer diamonds is that they’re a sustainable gemstone; they don’t need to be extracted with heavy machinery so they don’t contribute to carbon emissions that harm the environment the way mined gems do. Geologists often find these gems by hammering by hand into dolomite, a common sedimentary rock, digging in quarries, or simply finding them loose in riverbed or areas piled with rocky rubble. 

Pros and Cons of Herkimer Diamonds

Like any other gemstone, there are advantages and disadvantages to Herkimer diamond jewelry. Here are a few considerations to reflect on before you purchase a new piece:


Herkimer diamonds are an affordable option that cost significantly less than a traditional diamond. If you’re on a budget but want a durable piece of jewelry, a Herkimer diamond is an excellent choice for an engagement ring, pair of earrings, or necklace pendant. 

These gemstones are also uniquely beautiful. While traditional diamonds are lovely and the popular choice, Herikmer diamonds are a more interesting jewelry choice. Their clear color works with any other metal or gemstone you wear.

In addition, a Herkimer diamond is a sustainable gemstone that can help you feel good about your purchase. Since Herkimer diamonds don’t require mining, they’re an ethical choice. 



On the other hand, these gemstones are a little less durable than traditional diamonds. They’re still quite tough compared to most minerals, but they’re easier to scratch than diamonds. If you’re considering a Herkimer diamond ring and work with your hands a lot, you run the risk of damaging your jewelry. 

Because they have fewer facets, Herkimer diamonds will not possess the same brilliant sparkle of traditional diamonds. Their luster won’t produce that shiny, rainbow effect when it hits the light the way that traditional diamonds do. If that luster is your favorite part of jewelry, then this might not be the gemstone for you. 

Lastly, because of their abundance, Herkimer diamonds’ value decreases over time. Unlike a traditional diamond, which appreciates in value over time, Herkimer diamonds won’t be as lucrative if you ever decide to resell them. 

These gorgeous gemstones from Upstate New York have been a treasure for centuries and would make a glowing addition to a jewelry collection. Interested in creating your own Herkimer diamond jewelry? Work with our team at Quick Jewelry Repairs. Our expert jewelers can help you source a stone and design your very own custom piece from scratch.

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