When people talk about appreciating nature, they are often referring to observation of wildlife, weather patterns or picturesque mountain scenes. In fact, nature’s splendid grandeur extends below the surface of the earth as well. Many of the most distinctive, eye-catching gemstones have been mined from the earth’s crust and fashioned into wearable jewelry.
The astonishing tiger’s eye gem is just one of these. The tiger’s eye gets its name from the unique bands of red and black stone that interweave throughout its middle. Technically speaking, the red is a deposit of jasper and the black is hematite. From a jewelry enthusiast’s standpoint, however, the mineral contents of gemstone bracelets aren’t as important as their visual appeal.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula comprises the vast swath of land east of Wisconsin and north of the Mackinac Bridge. This proud region was once home to a booming mining industry, although most of the copper and iron mines have closed down. Logging and tourism now make up the framework of the local economy, but reminders of the U.P.’s rich mining heritage still abound. It’s apparent in a few of the town names: Iron Mountain, Copper Harbor; and the daily newspaper in Houghton, called the Mining Gazette.
The Upper Peninsula’s soil is still littered with copper nuggets – small pieces of raw material that bring to mind a distant time and way of life. Hobbyists like to collect, polish and display these copper deposits, whether or not they’ve ever been lucky enough to visit Michigan’s northern reaches.