About Us and History

The famous Eldorado bar has held its treasures for hundreds of thousands of years, With sapphires being deposited in a few chaotic time periods. These sapphires were most likely produced from Lamproite dikes up river eroding out of the shale bedrock. Due to extreme events possible ice age or glacial erosion. One of the unique characteristics of the Eldorado bar sapphire is the lack of rutile silk (a fine angel hair like inclusion) This produces some of the finest in-heated all natural sapphires. That being said that is not always the case some sapphires from the Eldorado bar still need and improve with heat treatment. occasionally sapphires in this area are found in there perfect natural crystal form which can be hexagonal plates, long pencil like cylinders and rarely found in rounded form with triangle termination points.
Sapphires have a great range of colors
The Eldorado Bar was discovered in the 1850's, by gold prospectors. They noticed small blue pebbles were clogging their sluice boxes. They first thought they were diamonds, until they sent them to New York to have them identified, where they found, they were sapphires. The sapphires had no real value at the time and were discarded as a problem rock. Later they found that the sapphire was a great mineral to make watch bearings/precision industrial bearings out of. Sapphires are the second hardest mineral on our planet. 
The government set up a huge dredge boat to mine the sapphires and gold in 1938 and proceeded to mine the sapphires for precision bearings for the missile gyros and high tech industries until the invention of artificial sapphires (lab created) shut them down in 1945, along with the rest of the mines. At that point the dredge was walked up the Missouri river and was used to make the concrete/gravel for the canyon ferry damn. Afterwards it was disassembled and rumors say reassembled in another country.  It took a lot of years, in the U.S., for the sapphires to gain value and notoriety. In recent times they have been recognized as some of the finest and most brilliant sapphires in the world. The Eldorado has been mined for over 100 years now and does not have many un-mined areas left. Montana sapphires come in almost every color, naturally, with red (ruby), pink and orange being the most rare and Steel blue/green being most common. Montana sapphires are a light pastel color in untreated, natural form, but if heat treated would turn blue or yellow, like most heat treated sapphires. The unheated sapphires with good color and clarity are rare and very prized. The Eldorado Bar has some of the biggest sapphires in Montana, It has produced sapphires in the 40-50ct. range but sapphires in this size are extremely rare. Clean ones in that size are almost unheard of but they do exist.
This is a map of the Eldorado Bar area. 
*Note: All of the Eldorado Bar area is private property. There are no public camp grounds or dig areas. We allow sapphire digging in summer months by appointment only. Please call or email us for pricing and reservation dates. The Eldorado Bar sapphire deposit is approximately 25 miles east of Helena, Montana, u.s.a. on the upper banks of the Missouri River.
There are many different types of fossils, agates and petrified wood on the Eldorado Bar. Some are in limestone, others are replaced by different materials such as goethite/hematite mineral, including old ocean creatures like clams, bi-pods, brachiopods, ammonite, crinoids, and stromatolites (the Eldorado Bar is a "Rock-hound" paradise).
Other types of rocks and minerals on the Eldorado Bar old river deposit are gold, silver, kyanite, sapphire, garnet, topaz, agate, hematite, goethite, jasper, quartz, quartzite and limestone.
Pictured above: Fossil goethite specimens of different types of sea creatures. (Clams, Brachiopod, Crynoid stems and a pseudo morph iron pyrite cube). This material weighs very similarly to sapphire often being caught in the mining process.