HomeMajor Colored StonesRubies and SapphiresSapphires from Montana, USA

Montana (Missouri River, NE of Helena, also Yogo Gulch, near Utica); discovered 1865, 1895. Also from Rock Creek in Granite Co.. Early and continued sources of much industrial-grade material. Also the source of considerable gem material (about $25 million from Yogo Gulch from 1895-1929).
Gold and sapphires in Missouri river gravels mined intermittently from 1865-present. Sapphires usually quite small, well-rounded or flat, and of a pale blue or blue-green color.


  • Best Yogo Gulch blue sapphire are said to rival Kashmir for color, show better clarity. Majority are a paler blue or have a greenish tint. Some are a lovely purplish-blue. Color most commonly associated with the term "Montana Sapphire" is stone of medium to light tone, very transparent, with what has been described as a steely gray blue or somewhat metallic blue color.
  • Rough is typically small (most yield subcarat stones), often shallow. Rough that will produce a gemstone of 2 carats or more is rare.
  • Yogo Gulch mine is in 2-8' wide dike that cuts limestone. Hard rock mining techniques and American labor makes mining relatively expensive, less economic than East Asian counterparts.
  • Yogo Gulch first mined on a large scale by an English sapphire syndicate, beginning in 1898. Production nearly halted during W.W.I. Following war, worker and water shortages, production problems, and double taxation (British and U.S.) led to closing in 1929. Mine reopened in 1956. Since then no less than 13 attempts have been made to reestablish Yogo sapphire production. All produced sapphire, none did so economically. Current (1993) owner and operator is Rancor Inc. (since 1985?) and Vortex mining who are developing a recently discovered extension of the dike. Geological surveys indicate a minimum of 28 million carats are still in the ground, making this one of the largest proven deposits in the world.

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