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Bill would give state official gemstone, mineral

A bill currently working its way through the state House of Representatives would give Pennsylvania both an official state gemstone and mineral.

The measure – HB 777 – is sponsored by Thomas Mahaffie, a Republican from Dauphin County and would make amethyst the gemstone and celestite the mineral.

He highlights “several unique connections” that amethyst has to the state “befitting this designation.

“Pennsylvania is well known for its variety of vast mineral deposits and the mines that work them. Among these is quartz, the most beautiful type of which is the vibrant, purple gemstone, Amethyst,” he wrote in a legislative memo. “Amethyst is also the focal point of the tiara used to crown the winner of the Miss Pennsylvania pageant.”

His memo notes that the tiara includes 92 carats of Amethyst which was donated from jewelers around the state.

“Coincidentally, the state plant of Pennsylvania is Penngift Crownvetch, commonly known as “‘Purple Crown,’” he continues. “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.”

Mahaffie says the state’s symbols “are important because they help to differentiate our state from others. Most states have an official state dog, tree and flower, etc.; all of which help to show what is important to that state.”

As for the state mineral, he proposed Celestine – which is “pale blue in color and is famous for its colorful combination of minerals. The name itself comes from the Latin word for “celestial” and alludes to the typical bluish color. It was first discovered here in Pennsylvania in 1791 and is also found worldwide.”

He says that designation “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.”

The legislation itself calls amethyst the “most beautiful type of quartz” and details that it can be found in Delaware County.

“Celestine grows as large, clear crystals that can be faceted into gems. With the same brilliance as topaz, celestine crystals are lovely gemstones,” the bill adds, noting that the mineral has been found in Blair, Juniata, Lycoming, Northumberland, Huntingdon and Mifflin counties.

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