How did Topaz become Utah’s state gem?

Central Utah News

Courtesy: Utah Geological Survey

EMERY COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – Did you know Utah has a state gem? 

According to the Research Center of the Utah State Archives & Utah State History, the designation of Topaz as the state gem occurred in 1969. 

The Legislature set this designation in House Bill 6.

“Topaz from the Thomas Range mountains in Juab County, Utah is selected and is designated to be the Utah State Gem,” House Bill 6 reads.  

A newspaper clipping titled “Has Everything But State Gem” reads “Utah has a State Bird, State Song, State Motto and a State Flower and may soon have a state gem. The Utah House Monday passed a bill designating Topaz as found in the Thomas Mountain Range in Juab County as the new State Gem. House members debated the mini-sized bill at considerable length with some of the representatives voicing opposition to the reference Juab County in the wording of the statute,” the newspaper article reads.

Courtesy: Utah Geological Survey

Topaz is a semiprecious gemstone that is most easily spotted by its hard, transparent crystals in a variety of colors.

In Utah, the Utah Geological Survey says topaz can be found in Beaver, Juab, and Tooele Counties, with larger crystals and clusters sitting within cavities of white rhyolite in Topaz Mountain in Juab County, Utah.

The topaz crystals at Topaz Mountain are naturally amber colored but become colorless after exposure to sunlight.

According to the Utah Geological Survey, the crystals formed within cavities of the Topaz Mountain rhyolite, a volcanic rock that erupted around six to seven million years ago from volcanic vents along faults in the area.  

Courtesy: Utah Geological Survey

The mountain is named after the Topaz found there, but Topaz is not the only mineral that can be found there. The survey says other minerals like red beryl, amethyst, garnet, pseudobrookite, bixbyite, opal, and hematite can also be found within Topaz Mountain. If you find some you can even take it home with you to add to your collection. 

Prior to collecting, you should determine ownership of the lands you intend to visit and familiarize yourself with the regulations that apply to collecting on those lands.

“Utah’s lands are managed by the federal government (Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Defense, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, American Indians), state government (School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration), and private owners (including local governments). Rockhounding permits may be required to collect on some government lands, and permission is required to collect on private lands,” the Utah Geological Survey’s website states.

See a list of the Utah Geological Survey rules for rock, mineral, and fossil collecting.

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