Sapphires were first discovered in Montana in 1865, in alluvium along the Missouri River. Sapphire mining began in 1895 after a local rancher named Jake Hoover sent a cigar box of gems to Tiffany’s in New York. More gem-quality sapphires are produced in Montana than anywhere else in North America. It is estimated that at least 28 million carats of Yogo sappsires are still in the ground.
About Yogo sapphire in brief
Sapphires were first discovered in Montana in 1865, in alluvium along the Missouri River. Sapphire mining began in 1895 after a local rancher named Jake Hoover sent a cigar box of gems to Tiffany’s in New York. More gem-quality sapphires are produced in Montana than anywhere else in North America. The term \”Yogo sapphire\” is the preferred wording for gems found in the Yogo Gulch, whereas “Montana” generally refers to gemstones found in other Montana locations. The Sapphire Mountains are the most productive site in Montana, and their gems inspired the name of the nearby Sapphire Mountains. In 1969, the saapphire was co-designated along with the agate as Montana’s state gemstones. It is estimated that at least 28 million carats of Yogo sappsires are still in the ground, and mining activity today is largely confined to hobby miners in the area. The site was in Fergus County when sapp hires were discovered, but in 1920, because of the re-designation, Judith Basin County was carved out from parts of western Fergus and eastern Cascade County. Yogo Sapphire Peak is located at the confluence of the Middle Fork of the Judith River and Yogo Creek, about 3 miles from Yogo’s confluence with the Middle Belt Fork. The Yogo dike runs east-northeast and west of Judith Belt, about 5 miles from there. The west end of the dike is located along the lower reaches of the lower Yogo River, about 0.5 miles from the end of Ycrops Creek, just southwest of Ypo Gulch.
The western end of the Ypo dike outcrops just about 4 miles from Judith Belt and 0.6 miles from Middle Belt River, just west of Ygo Gulch’s confluency with Ypo Creek. The area is known as the “Sapphire Belt” because it is the only place in Montana where the gems are all in the Little Mountains within the Judith Basin Mountains. It was also the site of the first gold discoveries in the state in 1866, but gold was discovered in 1878. In 1894, it was not until 1894 that the \”blue pebbles\” were recognized as sappHires. In the early 1980s, Intergem Limited, which controlled most of the Sapphire mining at the time, marketed Yogosapphire as the world’s only guaranteed \”untreated\” sappire. The company went out of business, but the gems it mined appeared on the market through the 1990s because the company had paid its salesmen in sappshires during its financial demise. In 1984, a third set of claims, knownas the Vortex mine, opened. The gems were sold in Europe, though promoters’ claims that they are in the crown jewels of England or the engagement ring of Princess Diana are dubious. The gemstones are part of the Smithsonian Institution’s gem collection.