• Navajo Ant Hill Garnets

    24 February 2016

    Navajo Ant Hill Garnets

    An amazing find from Sid Tucker LLC at the Tucson Gem Shows

    The Tucson Gem Shows always amaze me for the wonderful people and gemstones I find every year, and this year was especially amazing and I have a lot of stories to tell you about the trip. One story stands out that I wanted to tell you first, its the story of the Navajo Ant Hill Garnets that I learned about from the wonderful folks at the Sid Tucker LLC booth at the GJX show. Alan Hodgkinson told me I had to go see them, and I found out later it was for both their Ant Hill Garnet and the amazing homemade cookies that they offered. For now, we will talk about the garnets.

    Out in the Arizona desert lands of the Navajo Nation, there exists, in fairly shallow deposits, beautiful pyrope garnets that are small enough to be carried to the surface by ants who are digging out new tunnels through the ground.

    Hence the name: Navajo Ant Hill Garnets.

    OK, I added the "Navajo" to the name as they are usually known just as "Ant Hill Garnets". But in truth, there is much in the way of jewelry and gemstones produced by the Navajo Nation that is important to this industry, and I believe they need to get more credit for their contribution to the industry, you know...beyond that issue of the U.S. Army pushing them off their native lands and out into the Arizona desert. But that is for another debate topic and another venue. For now, we will focus on what I am going to call the Navajo Ant Hill Garnets, and what you are going to see will amaze you.

    According to the good folks at Sid Tucker, the deposits of Navajo Ant Hill Garnets are not mined commercially since they are on Navajo Nation land, but are gathered from the tops of the desert ant hills by Navajo women who go out and collect them. At left you see a collection of ant hill rough pebbles donated to us by Sid Tucker. Compare the photos above and at left and you can see that on its face, this material does not instill much confidence in producing fine quality garnet. But when you view this same pile with back lighting, the issue becomes far more clear.

    When you spread the material out and back light the parcel, you quickly see the red colors of the pyrope garnets that the ants brought up out of the ground. All things considered, there are actually quite a few garnets in the mix as we put several parcels of rough together to make the image at right and below.


    Now, I know what you are thinking: These ants are small, so just how big can these garnets be if the ants carry them to the surface? Well, the answer may surprise you...

    I purchased the three Navajo Ant Hill Garnets you see at left and they range in size from .91 carat to 1.55 carats. Now those are some pretty gosh-darned strong ants! Am I right? Yikes!

    And the colors! From an intense purple/red to sunset orange color. Just amazing and beautiful, and a lot of other descriptive terms that could be used to describe these wonderful garnets and the even-more amazing story they tell. Below this image is a color image of the master color set that I photographed at the Sid Tucker booth.

    But we are not done with this amazing story just yet. There are also color change Navajo Ant Hill Garnets! Due to the size of these stones the color change is difficult to photograph, but using our Meiji Techno microscope I was able to capture the beautiful color change of two specimens of Navajo Ant Hill Garnet that I obtained from the Tuckers. Below you see that pronounced color change effect and the amazing colors available from these same two garnets seen below left and right.

    And of course, no story of Navajo Ant Hill Garnet would be complete without the finished product, and the people who produce it. Below left is a beautiful ring set with Navajo Ant Hill Garnets, and below right are the Tuckers. Wonderful people with an amazing story of an amazing gemstone. And the cookies! They have amazing homemade cookies that make the trip to their booth even more exciting! Go for the peanut butter cookies...or maybe not. Leave those for me!

    I hope you enjoyed this tour of Sid Tucker's Navajo Ant Hill Garnet. I hope the Tuckers won't mind me adjusting the name of this wonderful garnet just a bit to reflect the source a bit more clearly. But the colors, the people, the story and everything about this beautiful gemstone is worth your time to investigate further.

    Navajo Ant Hill Garnet is a highly profitable revenue stream that should be of great interest to jewelers everywhere. All natural and with a story that is totally unique, this is a gemstone for the future.

    Robert James FGA, GG
    President, International School of Gemology

    If you would like to contact Sid Tucker, here is the phone number from our receipt, I could not find an email for them after I left. But call them. That phone call could turn into pure profit for you. 208-337-4351 Sid Tucker

    To learn more about the International School of Gemology and our world-class programs in gemology and jewelry appraisal, click on the ISG icon below.


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