March 27, 2002
Gemstones and Precious Metals on the Rise
While energy prices declined, prices for precious metals and gemstones rose. On February 28, 2002, gold prices had risen to $297/ounce; platinum-group metals were also rising in price with platinum reaching $493/ounce, palladium $377/ounce, rhodium $920/ounce, and rhenium $1750/ounce. Diamonds remained the most valuable gemstone??some Argyle pink diamonds from Australia recently sold for more than $1 million per carat. In Asia, a tiny 49 mm (less than 2 inch diameter) jade ring sold for more than $2.6 million. In the past few months, some pinkish-red sapphires from Wyoming sold for $150 to $350 per carat and some Wyoming iolites sold for $50 to $150 per carat.
All the precious metals and gemstones mentioned above are found in Wyoming. One can only imagine what one single diamond mine or a platinum-group metal mine could do for Wyoming’s economy.
Wyoming is host to the two largest kimberlite districts and the largest lamproite district in the United States. This could be significant, as these are the only rocks known to host commercial amounts of diamonds. Research by the Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS) over the past several years has proved that Wyoming has been intruded by swarms of potential host rocks for diamond, and the state agency has discovered several kimberlites in the Laramie Range.
In addition, some rocks in the Medicine Bow National Forest of southeastern Wyoming have proven to be hosts for platinum-group metals. One of the only known historical palladium and platinum mines in the country, the New Rambler mine, is located in the Medicine Bow Mountains.
The WSGS plans to initiate a geologic mapping project in the Mullen Creek complex in the Keystone area this summer thanks to a grant provided by the U.S. Geological Survey. This layered mafic complex and some surrounding areas have yielded several platinum-group metal anomalies; the WSGS plans to search for additional signs of platinum-group metals.
from the Office of the Wyoming State Geologist
Ron Surdam, State Geologist