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Gems and Precious Minerals

Trader and silversmith Mark Bahti shares the traditions and challenges of the Native American art form of silversmithing jewelry. How did Arizona’s volcanic activity help create our rare mineral wealth?

Take a trip through the minerals and gems at the Tiger Mine.

Arizona’s mineral history

Discover more of Arizona’s mineral history.

A whopping 809 of the earth’s 4,000 naturally occurring minerals are found in Arizona. Put another way, over 20% of the mineral types collected throughout the entire world occur within Arizona’s borders! 76 of those minerals were even discovered here. Arizona’s rainbow of gems and minerals not only gives us bragging rights, it still contributes to the state’s economy, arts, and culture. Indeed, the largest gem and mineral show in the world is held in Tucson every year.

Minerals such as azurite, malachite, chrysocolla, and turquoise are renowned for their rich blue and green hues, and have brought fame to mines and regions throughout Arizona. Before large scale operations removed spectacular mineral formations, turquoise, Arizona’s official state mineral, was mined for centuries by Native American tribes. Today it remains a popular gemstone for jewelry and other adornments.