What's New

After Five Years, The Vortex Yogo Mine is Reopening
August 18, 2017

There’s a good reason the official nickname for Montana is “The Treasure State.” Montana is rich in gold, silver, platinum and palladium. It also boasts a wide array of precious and semi-precious gemstones. But one of its riches, and most beloved treasures is the Yogo Sapphire: a gemstone known for its deep blue color. The world contains only one source of Yogo Sapphires, and it is here in Montana. More specifically, the mine resides in Judith Basin County near the middle of the state. The mine, however, has laid dormant for years. Demand for Yogos, on the other hand, has been anything but sleepy. Because of this, we are ecstatic to announce: Don Baide has purchased the Vortex mine and will begin operations soon.

For a full explanation of the one of a kind geological formation as well as the entire history of the mine, read through our Sapphires of Montana page and our Yogo Sapphire Gemology article. 

Purchase

After nearly a year of negotiations, Don has closed on a deal with Laurie Roberts, widow of former owner operator Mike Roberts, to buy the Vortex Mine, including all claims, rights and equipment. The Vortex mine has been closed for the last five years. The previous owner, Mike Roberts, died tragically in an accident while inside the sapphire mine. He was a good friend of the Baide's. By reviving the Vortex Mine, Don hopes to continue his friend’s legacy. After Mike’s death, the mine went through rigorous safety updates. After passing all inspections, it was reopened for a brief season. We will continue improving the mine’s infrastructure to guarantee that it is a safe, sustainable operation.

Our Plan

Don has started a new company, Yogo Mining Company, that will operate the mine, organize the stone cutting, and distribute Yogos. We intend to run the mine as a small but effective operation. Our six-person team will use drill and blast mining techniques 350 feet underground to extract Yogos from its unique linear vein formation. We intend to run the mine on a seasonal basis. This should produce a sustainable flow of Yogos that will supply jewelers around the state without creating a shock to the market. We will cut all of our larger stones domestically, including using several local Montana gem cutters. All small stones will be cut internationally. Don has over 40 years of experience organizing cutting operations in Thailand and will use his experience to guarantee all Yogos are cut to the highest standards.

As anyone who knows Don can vouch for, he is not a greedy man. We now have the only operation producing Yogos on a large scale, however, we don’t intend for The Gem Gallery to be the only seller of Yogos. Yogo Mining Company will supply other jewelers with the entire range of size, color and quality. Don believes that this is not only healthy for the Yogo loving community, but that it is only fair. He started out of college building jewelry in a rented basement. Yogos have allowed him to build a business, buy a house, raise a family, and now purchase the mine. He hopes they will do the same for other aspiring jewelers. The Gem Gallery will continue to have to widest collection of Yogos as well as the most exquisite specimens that the mine produces. 


Environmental Impact

The Gem Gallery, under Don’s leadership, has always been committed to giving back to our community. Yogo Mining Company will be no different. While mines by their very nature disrupt their environment, we will do everything we can to minimize our impact and ethically produce the sapphire we all love.

Because the Vortex mine is a hard-rock underground operation, there is very minimal surface disturbance. The entire above ground impact of the mine is confined to under five acres of land. That includes all wash plants, ponds, ore weathering, waste rocks, roads and equipment storage. In the mining world, that is tiny. We have already made an agreement with the Forest Service to use our waste rock as road fill to continue Mike’s deal. This means we don’t have to clear forest to create large waste dumps and prevents the need for additional gravel pits to mine for road fill. It’s win-win for the environment. We also commit to never using any damaging chemicals in our mining process that would have a harmful impact. Our wash plant has a recycling water pond to minimize our impact on the nearby Yogo Creek. We will be pursuing various environment certifications so our clients can have confidence that Yogos are as environmentally friendly as possible. Because there is only one source for Yogos, and we know its entire history, we can also guarantee that all Yogos ever mined have been conflict free.


The Gem Gallery

Don has dreamed of owning the Yogo mine for most of his career. Now that his dream has become a reality, the mine will be his primary focus. He will still be actively involved at The Gem Gallery, but his time in the store will be limited. Jason Baide, Don’s son, has worked his way up from sweeping floors to doing repair work and custom design work. For the past year Jason has been the store manager. He will be taking over many of Don’s responsibilities at the store. Don will still be available for appointments on limited days during the mining season.

The Gem Gallery has been known for its Yogo collection for twenty-two years. We have prided ourselves on having one of the largest collections of Yogos in the world. With the mine closed, even we have started to feel the pressure of fewer stones being available. We have been very fortunate this past year to acquire two large collections that replenished our inventory. Even before purchasing the mine, we have more large stones now than we have had for many years. Now that we have the mine, we will expand our signature design line, use more Yogos in our curated collections from vendors and of course have even more loose Yogos to create with.

We will be having a Yogo Gala event to celebrate the reopening of the mine on September 15th, 5-7pm at The Gem Gallery. Come celebrate with us! There will be live music, catered food, Champagne, and more.


Future

Words are insufficient to say how over-the-moon excited we are. This will change the jewelry industry of Montana and beyond. Our goal is to provide a sustainable, stable supply of Yogos to the entire state. We will start small and continue to grow. In the meantime, for a taste of what’s to come, stop by our store and check out our already large selection of Yogos. We look forward to keeping you up to date on the latest develops in the long, bright future of Yogo Sapphires.

More Information

Our story has been featured in several nation jeweler publications. Check out the articles by JCK, National Jeweler, and Instore Magazine.

In Memory of Sharon Voelkel
August 16, 2017

Sharon Voelkel, a long time gem cutter at The Gem Gallery, has passed away. She died August 16, 2017 after suffering a major stroke. She was surrounded by friends and family at the time of her passing. Sharon was one of the most skilled gem cutters out there. She cut some of the largest Yogos mined in the last fifty years. She developed innovative polishing techniques and loved teaching her art to anyone that was interested. The Gem Gallery staff and friends will all miss her.

We invite all friends and family to celebrate her life on Saturday, August 19th from 4:00pm to 6:00pm at Dahl Tribute Center, 300 Highland Boulevard.




Choosing Your Jewelry: Gold vs Platinum
May 27, 2016

Wedding bands made with three colors of gold: white, yellow, and rose.

An important part to picking out your new jewelry piece is understanding what meets your needs. Beautiful, sparkling gemstones and a unique design should be considered for the atheistic of your piece. But the elements of how your jewelry is made is just as important. Different types of metals, such as gold and platinum, are used for various purposes in jewelry making.

Gold

Gold is commonly used for all types of jewelry, although there are multiple types and purities of gold. 14 karat gold, which is 58.3% pure, is the most common because it is the American standard. Although 18 karat gold, which is 75% pure, is used often as well. Because gold is naturally a soft metal, 24 karat gold (the purest form), is not usually used for making jewelry. Although The Gem Gallery does sell 24 karat gold nugget earrings 
here. 

Multiple colors of gold are available, the most common being yellow, rose, and white. Gold is naturally yellow, but still requires to be mixed with other metals to create an alloy hard enough for everyday wear. The alloy metals in gold can differ, which is a science of itself. A good example of this is rose gold, which is alloyed with copper to get its warm, pink color. Rose gold is more durable because copper is a very tough metal. White gold contains alloy metals that make it’s color similar to white, but never a true white. It always contains hints of yellow because of the natural color of gold. “It’s like mixing paint,” says Jason Baide of The Gem Gallery. You can never get a pure white from a vibrant color. White gold is commonly plated with rhodium, a hard, white metal that has a beautiful mirror finish. Rhodium plated jewelry usually requires more maintenance than other jewelry types. 

Platinum

Platinum is a naturally true white metal. It is in the same family as rhodium and palladium. Because it has no hints of other colors, it does not require rhodium plating. It is more dense than gold, containing 95% platinum. It also wears slower than gold. When gold gets scratched, it actually looses metal (18 karat gold scratches easier than 14 karat). But when platinum gets scratched, the metal moves and shifts. Overtime, this creates a patina that is desirable by some. Because of platinum’s strength, it holds gemstones better than gold. The prongs are stronger than other metals. Rings often have a gold shank and a platinum head for this purpose. Another advantage of platinum over gold is that it does not contain nickel, so it is hypoallergenic. A major platinum mine is located in Montana! 


Although the price of platinum is currently less than the price of gold, a piece of platinum jewelry will generally be more expensive than the same piece in gold because it will weigh more. Platinum also requires more labor to create a custom piece. It takes 50% longer than gold to polish and work with. That being said, platinum is The Gem Gallery’s goldsmith favorite. Jason Baide says it is “a labor of love.” It engraves well and is an excellent choice for your custom engagement ring! 


Considering the color and durability of your jewelry will help you decide what metal to choose. If you desire a white colored ring that is very durable, platinum is the way to go. But if you want a warm color, such as rose or yellow, 14 karat gold will better fit your needs. Our sales team will be happy to help you decide what type of metal is right for you!

Announcing our Montana Collection Gifts
April 9, 2016

The Men's Collection Cufflinks
Maid in Montana Jewelry
We are excited to announce our new Montana Jewelry Collection! We have some fun gifts for bridesmaids and groomsmen. 

Our Maid in Montana collection features pendants and earrings for your bridesmaids...or even yourself! You can have them special made in your choice of 14K gold or sterling silver. They can feature a Montana Yogo Sapphire, a Fancy Montana Sapphire, a Diamond, or no gemstone at all. 

The Men's Collection also comes in a range of options. These awesome cufflinks can be made with the same metal and gemstone options. All the jewelry can be made with a polished or satin finish. 

Our 14K rose gold jewelry is especially an exciting edition to our new collections! Rose gold is one of the top jewelry trends of 2016 and will make a statement at your wedding! 

All purchases of three or more of the same jewelry item will receive a 15% discount! Special orders for your wedding party or event will take about 3-5 weeks. 

Happy New Year! 2016
January 23, 2016

The Gem Gallery
Greetings from The Gem Gallery & Happy New Year! We had our annual holiday Party at Chico Hot Springs, a company tradition! A short drive from Bozeman, Chico has natural hot springs, an award winning restaurant and bar. We had a wonderful dinner, soaked and stayed the night. It was delightful. We wait until after the holidays- working retail and all. The wait was worth it, what a great team!
Cheers!

Our Holiday Open House
December 14, 2015

Holiday Open House
Holiday Open House
We had a wonderful turn out for our Open House this year. We had appetizers from Joe's Parkway & custom made chocolates from La Chatelaine Chocolate here in Bozeman. We also served a warm caramel apple cocktail which was very popular! Thanks to everyone who came out and we will announce the winner of the half carat earrings soon! 
Happy Holidays!

Staff Christmas Party
January 3, 2015

Staff Christmas Party
The Gem Gallery staff celebrated this weekend with their annual Christmas Party at Chico. We all enjoyed soaking in the hot springs, exchanging white elephant gifts, eating an amazing dinner and dancing to the Kris Clone Band.

Happy 2015!
December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!
Out with the old, in with the new, may you be happy the whole year through. Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!!
December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!!
Whatever is beautiful, whatever is meaningful, whatever brings happiness, may it be yours this holiday season and throughout the coming year.

Open House Sale
December 14, 2014

Holiday Open House

Enjoy 10% off select Montana Yogo Sapphire jewelry and 20% off everything else in the store this weekend only!

Shop diamond fashion jewelry, trinket boxes, sterling silver pieces, Fancy Montana Sapphires and much more!

Back to Top