GIA feature article titled Big Sky Country Sapphire: Visiting Montana’s Alluvial Deposits

Map of Montana mining operations

The following is an excerpt from GIA’s article “Big Sky Country Sapphire: Visiting Montana’s Alluvial Deposits”

Sapphire has been mined in the western U.S. state of Montana for more than a century and a half. Historically, gem-quality sapphires have been mined commercially in four main areas in southwestern Montana, shown in figure 1: the upper Missouri River gravel bars (1865), Dry Cottonwood Creek (1889), Rock Creek (1892), and Yogo Gulch (1895). Today, the first two areas remain quite active, while operations in Yogo Gulch and Dry Cottonwood Creek have been suspended for many years. To better understand the characteristics of Montana sapphire and record current mining and commercial activities, GIA sent a team to visit the placer deposits at the upper Missouri River and Rock Creek areas in August 2015.

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