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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Amazonite

Amazonite (NMNH G4092-00) from the National Gem Collection.
Photo by Ken Larsen. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G4092-00
Locality Virginia, United States

Purchased with funds from the Chamberlain Fund in 1919.

Amelia Courthouse, VA is known for having the Nation’s best source of amazonite found at the Morefield Mine. Amazonite is the blue-green variety of microcline (a feldspar). The Morefield Mine, discovered in 1929, produces over 70 different minerals including feldspar (amazonite), mica, beryl, and phenakite. Topaz, garnets and quartz (amethyst) can also be found. In the early 1900s, Silas V. Morefield first worked this deposit from the surface for amazonite and mica. Today, Morefield is mined for amazonite and is one of the few locations in the U.S. where amazonite is still mined. Amazonite, Morefield’s major mineral, is used in jewelry and as an ornamental stone. The Museum has a wonderful mine venue of Morefield that exhibits a mine shaft as well as depicting the mine itself, with vivid bands of blue-green amazonite. The source of amazonite’s color was uncertain for years, and many assumed the color was due to copper, which often produces blue and green colors in gems and minerals. However, it is now believed that the blue-green color results from small quantities of lead and water in the feldspar. Its name is derived from the Amazon River, however, no deposits have been found there. Amazonite has been found in Russia, Madagascar, Brazil and the U.S. (Virginia, Colorado), and elsewhere.

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