Thursday, December 18, 2014

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Herkimer Diamond Mines

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Herkimer Diamond Mines
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Diamonds are forever and you don't have to go too far to find them in Central New York. People from across the country and the world come to the Herkimer Diamond Mines to do some digging. In this edition of Your Hometown, Iris St. Meran has more on these special diamonds in the rough.

HERKIMER, N.Y. -- This is one of Central New York's hidden gems, the Herkimer Diamond Mines. Located along Route 28, this mine was first opened to the public in 1955, but the rock in which these crystals are found is believed to be 500 million years old.

Collectors say the diamonds are a natural wonder.

"It's the only gem in the world that mother nature has given two points, double set of terminated points and 18 sides to it. It's so unique and it's the only place in the world where you can find it," said Herkimer Diamond Mines President Renee Scialdo Shevat.

Despite their name, they are not true diamonds at all. A true diamond is hard and would get a 10 on the Mohs scale, which measures hardness from one to 10. Herkimer diamonds would score about a 7.5, making them harder than all quartz crystals.

But the Herkimer diamonds are not hard to find at all.

"We found some good size diamonds," said Pennsylvania resident Toby Holland.

Most mines are underground, but these are on the surface, making it user friendly for anyone between the ages of three and 93. And if they want, miners are given mini sledge hammers one to make it easier to uncover these hidden crystals.

"You want to look for any kind of dull stone. The rock that we have out here, any kind that's really porous, which means it has holes in it. You kind of want to hammer it a couple times. If that doesn't work, just try and move on to the next one," said Herkimer Diamond Mines educator Mike Hinman.

Hinman says your eyes and your hands are the best tools.

"I didn't even have to dig for these. I just moved some rocks and found them," Pennsylvania resident Jack Holland said.

"Remember, it's a half billion years old, 500 million years old. Never touched by mankind. And you will be the first one to find it. You're the first human being to touch it," Shevat said.

One of the best parts -- you can keep everything you find, without exception.

Mine staff says it's rare that someone would go home empty-handed.

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