Mason Mountain Garnets

Photo from the Facebook page for Simply Stones.  I'll have more later...

Today I stopped by the booth  for Simply Stones at Art at the Market and I wanted everything.  But what I chose was a lovely cross section of Mason Mountain garnets (a rhodalite) still encased in their matrix.  My pieces is a rounded off diamond with four main garnets showing. John and Cheryl Vest have worked full-time hand- cutting and polishing various types of agates, jasper, unakite and petrified wood at their business in Floyd since 2006.

Dean (Dino) Nasco of DJ Gems in Haywood, NC explains that the garnet Rhodolite was first discovered in the mountains of North Carolina and "derives its name from the mountain rhododendron which grow here....It occurs in a granite type vein in mica pockets, on top of Mason Mountain near Cowee Valley just outside of Franklin, NC.  He writes that
Mining Mason Mountain rhodolite is truly a labor of love, in that a ton of work, and I do mean a "ton" is necessary to produce a mere palm full of cutting quality gems.
The Smithsonian has a piece of N.C. Rhodolite in its collections and its late curator, E. P. Henderson wrote up his notes for a December 1931 article for  American Mineralogist.