Friday, September 14, 2007

September 14, 2007 - Sapphire Mining in Phillipsburg

No photos today, I was looking at sapphires instead of through a camera! We did the Sapphire Gallery in Phillipsburg, MT (as seen on the Travel Channel) where you buy bags of concentrate (gravel), which they wash for you and then screen and dump them on your table. Your job is to pick through the gravel with tweezers and find the sapphires. We got a total of 22.83 carats of gem-quality, facet-able sapphires. Tomorrow we will go to a mine near here and do our own washing, sluicing and mining for sapphires there. Rough sapphires are a pale, greenish-blue color and transparent. They need to be heat-treated before faceting to become the recognizable ,dark blue sapphire color. We got about eight of the size that would make very nice earrings when treated and faceted, but you can send them to the place here to have them processed later, we know someone who did that and was very pleased with their service. We will wait to see what we get tomorrow. We decided to stay here an extra day and have a quiet day Sunday before we head back toward Phoenix. I'll report in tomorrow whether we find any record-beating sizes of sapphires or is great fun to do the searching whether you do or not.

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