The Gem Gallery Secures Purchase of Montana Yogo Sapphire Mine

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The purchase and reopening of the Yogo Sapphire mine, the only one of its kind, will allow Yogos to return to the market and position the Bozeman jeweler to be the premiere supplier for Yogo Sapphires.

"We can guarantee that these stones haven't had any conflict and that they are totally untreated. And to find out that it’s been mined in Montana — that’s even better."

The Gem Gallery, a jewelry store in Downtown Bozeman Montana, founded by Don Baide, is excited to announce their purchase of the Vortex Mine near Lewistown, MT.

“We’ve chosen to support all the jewelers of Montana by supplying them with stones. The Gem Gallery will be known, though, as the primary outlet for the Yogo mine,” says Don Baide, owner of The Gem Gallery and newly formed Yogo Mining Company LLC.

Under Baide's ownership, the mine will be a professional and eco-friendly operation, disturbing fewer than five acres above ground, causing minimal surface disturbance and utilizing no harsh chemicals for extraction. The Vortex Mine is accessed via a spiral decline nearly 35 stories deep. Initial mining operations will be conducted by a team of six experienced Montanan miners.

The Vortex Mine is the largest operational source of Yogo Sapphires. The mine will operate under Yogo Mining Company LLC and will allow The Gem Gallery to become the premiere supplier of Yogo Sapphires. This reopening comes at a time when Yogos have become very difficult for jewelers and the public to acquire. Consumer trends have shifted to favor natural single source gemstones, but with the mine closed the supply of Yogos in Montana has been greatly depleted.

“Consumers are really looking for more than just a good gemstone, they’re looking for a story,” says Jason Baide, Don’s son and Gem Gallery co-owner. “They want to know that it’s ethically produced, they want to know where it’s from. We can guarantee that these stones haven't had any conflict and that they are totally untreated. And to find out that it’s been mined in Montana — that’s even better.”

The Vortex mine has been closed for the last five years, and for a time its fate had been in question; the previous owner, Mike Roberts, who died tragically in an accident while inside the sapphire mine, was a good friend of the Baides. By reviving the Vortex Mine, Don hopes to continue his friend’s legacy as well as provide other jewelers with sustainably-extracted, natural Yogo Sapphires. After the completion of safety improvements and inspections, Yogo Mining Company will operate for a short season to produce stones in time for Christmas, and will be in full operation by next year.

The Gem Gallery is located at 402 East Main St. in Bozeman, MT 59715 and can be reached at (406) 587-9339 or jason(at)gemgallery(dot)com.

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Jason Baide
The Gem Gallery
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Joshua Reynolds
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