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November 22, 2021
Lawmaker Thomas Mahaffie is advancing a bill to make amethyst the official gemstone of Pennsylvania. Twenty-seven of the 50 states currently have a gemstone to call their own, and the state representative from Dauphin County believes that The Keystone State deserves one, as well.
In a legislative memo, Mahaffie outlined why amethyst is the best choice.
“Pennsylvania is well known for its variety of vast mineral deposits and the mines that work them,” he wrote. “Among these is quartz, the most beautiful type of which is the vibrant, purple gemstone, amethyst.”
Mahaffie also noted that amethysts are featured in the tiara used to crown the winner of the Miss Pennsylvania pageant. The tiara boasts 92 carats of amethysts, including a keystone-shaped primary jewel weighing 37 carats. The tiara is the subject of great pride because the gems and gold used to fabricate it were contributed by jewelers throughout the state.
“The official symbols of the Commonwealth are important because they help to differentiate our state from others,” he continued. “Most states have an official state dog, tree and flower, etc., all of which help to show what is important to that state.”
Mahaffie added one more piece of purple passion to his argument.
“Coincidentally, the state plant of Pennsylvania is Penngift Crownvetch, commonly known as “‘Purple Crown,’” he wrote. “How fitting that Pennsylvania is represented by the beauty of the attractive purple blooms of the state plant ‘Purple Crown’ and the radiant purple amethyst gemstones of the ‘Purple Crown’ worn by Miss Pennsylvania.”
According to Thoughtco.com, 27 states currently claim an official gemstone. New Hampshire has smoky quartz, Idaho has star garnet and Maine has tourmaline, to name a few.
If the measure — HB 777 — passes through the House and Senate, Pennsylvania will become the second state to anoint amethyst as its official gemstone. The other is South Carolina.
Also included in Mahaffie’s bill is a proposal to make celestite the state’s official mineral. First discovered in Pennsylvania in 1791, the pale blue mineral gets its name from the Latin word for “celestial.”
“I believe that denoting celestite, more commonly referred to as celestine, as the state mineral will not only pique the interest of school children across the state to learn more about Pennsylvania and its rich environment, but will also help educate the public about a uniquely beautiful mineral,” Mahaffie wrote.
Celestite has been found in Pennsylvania’s Blair, Juniata, Lycoming, Northumberland, Huntingdon and Mifflin counties. Deposits of amethyst are present in the state’s southeastern counties of Lancaster, Chester and Delaware.
Credits: Amethyst image by Marie-Lan Taÿ Pamart, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Celestine image by Ivar Leidus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.