Home News Wyoming’s State Gemstone: The Jade Rush and Other Precious Finds

Wyoming’s State Gemstone: The Jade Rush and Other Precious Finds

by Madonna

Wyoming, USA – Often referred to as “Wyoming jade,” this unique gemstone, with its moderate hardness and remarkable durability, is prized for its suitability in crafting intricate figures and exquisite jewelry pieces.

According to the Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS), the first accounts of jade in the Cowboy State date back to the early 1900s. Reportedly, cowboys discovered this precious stone and sold it for whatever price they could fetch.


In the book “Adventure in Jade,” published in 1947 by James L. Kraft, two intriguing stories emerged from local nephrite hunters. The first tale recounts how the president of the Kraft Foods Company in Chicago, Illinois, a jade enthusiast, became an early purchaser of Wyoming jade around 1938 or ’39, contributing to the establishment of one of the first jade shops in Lander.


The second story revolves around a sheepherder working in the Crooks Mountains in 1931, who stumbled upon a substantial green rock later identified as jade. This remarkable discovery prompted the sheepherder to sell it to a museum, sparking a frenzy of rock hunting in the region.


The Wyoming Jade Rush, which began in the 1930s, briefly waned during World War II but resurged in the mid-1940s. Alan Branham’s 1944 account underscores the excitement surrounding large jade finds. When a substantial piece of jade was discovered, someone had to stand guard until their partner returned with the necessary tools. With no one possessing a saw large enough to cut the jade, these sizable boulders often remained in the discoverer’s backyard. The news of such discoveries quickly spread, attracting more jade hunters to the region, as noted by the WSGS.

The jade craze in Wyoming gradually subsided after the 1970s but experienced a resurgence in 2005. Today, enthusiasts can explore the treasure troves of absinthe-colored stones in the jade fields of the Big Horn and Basin Wind River mining district, particularly around Jeffrey City, and in the Sage Creek basin near the small town of Lysite.

Beyond Jade: Other Precious Discoveries in Wyoming

1. Diamonds: In 1975, diamonds were uncovered in southeastern Wyoming, approximately 25 miles south of Laramie. Since then, more than 130,000 diamonds have been found in the Colorado-Wyoming State Line kimberlite district, ranging from microscopic to impressive 6.2-carat gems.

2. Gold: With its historical association with the Cowboy State dating back to the discovery of gold in the Sweetwater River in 1842, gold panning remains a popular activity even today. The National Forest Service has listed several Gold Panning Areas across Wyoming.

3. Opal: A decade ago, one of the country’s largest opals, weighing 34 pounds, was unearthed near Riverton, Wyoming.

4. Copper: Southern Wyoming boasts a rich deposit of copper-bearing minerals, spread over a wide expanse in the Rocky Mountains.

5. Sapphires and Rubies: Wyoming’s rubies are known for their pale hue compared to other varieties, while its sapphires often exhibit a light blue, gray, or lavender coloration.

These extraordinary discoveries underscore Wyoming’s geological diversity and the enduring allure of its precious gemstones.


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