When we drove across the country four years ago- one of the only things we DID plan was to stop in Montana and mine for sapphires. Both of us totally dig (no pun I swear!) rocks and minerals. There are few better ways to spend a day than to go gold panning or mineral mining. While still living in Ca we often packed up the dogs and drove into the Sierras then down Yuba river to pan for gold.
We found the Spokane bar Sapphire mine outside of Helena and since it was close to the entrance to Yellowstone we decided to give it a try. Many things in Montana were not quite what we expected. For instance this is a MEDIUM coffee:
When we got the the mine we were informed that since all sapphires and garnet form in the first five feet of ground-the mine does not look like you would think. It is NOT a deep shaft into the earth. Instead it was an area on top of a hill in the high plains of Montana. Here again we found a breathtaking view and a place to run the pups WHILE mining. How is that for multi-tasking?!
You could get gravel down at the shop/panning area but we opted to go up to the actual mine and get our own, fresh from the earth.
Our first screen full of pay dirt was flipped onto the table and a huge blue rock tumbled out. I saw it and grabbed it before my love could. It turned out to be a 5 ct stone. Ownership of this stone was hotly contested since we saw it at the same time, it just happened to be closer to me so I grabbed it. After the day of mining we were on our way again- now with a respectable haul of dragon treasure along for the ride.
For years after ‘the move‘ we have been buying bags of gravel from the mine, they will send them right to your house. The post office will think you are nuts when you tell them that the package is really heavy cause it is filled with gravel. But, you get pretty rocks.
We lucked into an AMAZING stone cutter in NH. The finished stones only cost us $30 per ct. Let me tell you- that is a deal I will take all day!
I am SO very fortunate to have family who are goldsmiths. (Dammed good ones at that!) They live in Austria, like most of my extended paternal family- they still live in Europe.
I was able to design our rings. With my cousin’s help she incorporated all the stones we mined over the last couple years.
Mine has three separate rings that make one. The bottom is for my oldest, the middle for my husband and the clouds are for my youngest.
I believe when I married my commitment was to three men, not just one.
They turned out pretty F%#king amazing if I do say so myself!
My cousin only charged me for the price of the gold, so we ended up with 6 rings (1 for Ry, 3 for me and 1 for each boy, they both got rings like daddy’s for when they are grown) for a little over 3K again, hard to beat! Our whole wedding cost us under 5K and it included 10 bags of gravel for our guest to go through. Finder’s keepers.
The kids LOVE to help mine and have found many of the gems now set in our rings and theirs.
The search continues, it shows no sign of stoping in this generation and the next…
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