Blue John Fluorite
From the French ‘blue jaune’ meaning ‘blue yellow’ which makes sense given the blue yellow and also purple and white colours of this gemstone. Only ever discovered in a small number of caverns near the village of Castleton in Derbyshire. Its discovery has been traced back to the Romans, however the earliest official recorded reference was in 1766.
By the late 18th century up to 20 tonnes of Blue John were being mined every year. The gemstone is still mined today but in far fewer quantities. It is not known how much of the gemstone is still hidden in the earth. Today the caverns of Castelton are open for public tours through the mines and mining still takes place in the winter months of the year.
The first known mined gold in the UK was recorded in the Bronze Age in Dolau Cothin Wales. The mine was also recorded to have been used by the Romans and is now a national trust site. The mine is open to the public to take tours underground. Sightseers can observe the roman tunnels and where the Victorians used explosive in a search to source ore gold.
The mine was in regular use up until 1938. Whilst no mining takes place today as the site is largely an archaeological area you can still pan for gold in the nearby river Cothi.
Tucked away in the Cairngorm national park in Aberdeenshire Scotland a dark smoky (sometimes yellow) quartz has been discovered to form. This quartz is found exclusively in this area for many centuries. Since its discovery in this quartz gem stone was used in brooches, ornate jewellery and small knives.
By the Victorian era the gem was being regularly mined by many people known at the time as ‘the diggers’. These miners of Cairngorm would sometimes discover other precious gemstones such as beryl and topaz.
Jewellers often heated the quartz in an attempt to lighten or change the colour. Sometimes this quartz could be changed to an orange shade and then sold as citrine. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were keen collectors of Cairngorm quartz.
Yes that’s right even diamond has been found in the United Kingdom, admittedly only a very very small amount. In 1813 ‘The Brookeborough’ diamond was discovered in a stream in Co Fermanagh.
In the 1870s Professor M. F. Heddle of St Andrews University discovered a small diamond 5km north of Ben Hope in Scotland.
Whitby beach in Yorkshire is world famous for its jet which was popular in Queen Victoria’s reign. The stone was often used in mourning jewellery and carved and polished into elaborate designs. Jet is an organic gem which forms from pieces of wood material which has been coalified.
The Amber coast in the South East Coast in Suffolk is as its name suggests, is home to some of the world’s amber. Baltic amber has washed up on these shores but has also been found further north in Great Yarmouth and even Norfolk.