The B1G List: Ranking the State Gemstones/Rocks of the Big Ten

By Johnny Ginter on July 15, 2013 at 4:00p
The B1G List: Ranking the State Gemstones/Rocks of the Big Ten

Rocks. And gemstones!

Doing these lists have really got me thinking about the motivation for various official state whatevers. Like, on a certain level, most of them make sense. A state bird, sure. State animal, okay. State fish should be a given (LOOKING AT YOU, BUCKEYE STATE). And really, what kind of state doesn't have some sort of official drink or broth that lets outsiders know what kind of swill we like to chug to cleanse our palates?

An official state rock or gemstone kind of baffles me, though. Rocks are pretty cool, I guess, and gemstones are probably valuable, but I think at this point in the summer we're getting to the point where a governor had a five year old kid that they were trying to humor for a week.

With that said, it is kind of interesting how specific certain rocks and gemstones can be to a state. There are one or two states that have picked notable exceptions, which I will be mocking mercilessly, but for the most part the selections make sense. And as always, if a state has multiple rocks/gemstones/beads mistaken for rocks, I'll just pick whichever one I like better.

11./10. Pennsylvania and New Jersey- NONE

Way to go, Pennsylvania. You are literally the Keystone State and you can't come up with a stone to represent your state. How about a keystone? That might fit the bill, I dunno, just spitballing here. No it doesn't refer to a specific type of rock, but would anyone really care? Probably not.

New Jersey gets a pass because I feel like just being New Jersey is enough to worry about in general.

9. Indiana- Salem Limestone

Word? Limestone? You mean the rock that makes up literally 10% of all sedimentary rocks ON THE PLANET?? No, that's perfect for you, Indiana. You picked the most boring, common rock in the world. It's kismet.

Oh but noooo, this is SALEM limestone, the best limestone ever! As Wikipedia notes, "New Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, New York, opened in 2009, extensively uses Indiana limestone paneling on its exterior facade." Wow! "Extensively uses?!" "Paneling?!!" "Exterior facade????"

Great. Amazing.

8. Iowa- Quartz Geode

"Well, okay Iowa, mom said that if you were well behaved and did your chores that we'd get you something at the Children's Muesum, so go ahead and pick something out. And it has to be under 15 dollars. And nothing sticky. And make sure that your sister can play with it, too.

What, a geode? How much is it? $7.95? Perfect, ask that nice lady at the counter if she can ring you up and we'll have a nice new state gemstone when we get back home"


Iowa lost its geode because they're dumb and he got bored with it.

don't touch me, you might cut yourselfDang those are cool!

7. Illinois- Fluorite

A key component in hydrogen fluoride (duh), fluorite is otherwise a pretty non-remarkable stone with no really special properties or anything. Which leads me to believe that the selection of fluorite is really a thinly veiled threat from the state of Illinois that they will attack you with acid. Acid made from fluorite.

6. Wisconsin- Galena

Shiny poop. NEXT.

5. Nebraska- Prairie Agate

We have not moved on to the agate part of our competition, where individual states attempt to be special unique snowflakes by making a local agate their state gemstone. Cool on them, I guess, except for the fact that the agate comes in just ahead of "boring geode" in the Children's Museum giftshop sweepstakes.

Anyway, Nebraska went with the prairie agate, which is appropriate because Nebraska is basically just a giant, boring prairie and the prairie agate is a boring gemstone.

4. Maryland- Patuxent River Agate

Google image search "Patuxent River Agate." It's okay, I'll still be here when you get back.

3. Minnesota- Lake Superior Agate

Have fun? Okay, now that you've done that, look at this image.

THEY ARE SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT! But that's basically it. You reach into some water. You grab a handful of stones. You polish some of them, maybe, and then you sell them to kids by the pound. Or, if you're particularly enterprising, you go whole hog and sell a rock polisher instead and kids can make their own. I'm not sure why I'm so angry at the commercial agate industry today, but let's be honest here: they pale in comparison to the authentic freeze dried Braxton Miller ice cream we'll soon be selling in the 11W Dry Goods store. Just saying.

2. Michigan- Chlorastrolite

Okay, maybe it's time to give Michigan some props. This is a solid gemstone. Unique to the UP, it's basically useless but does look like a turtle shell, so in that sense I think it wins. There's a specimen in the Smithsonian that is 1.5 inches by 3 inches, and that makes it one of the larger ones ever found. So, to recap: small, cool looking, impossible to find, localized in a very specific area. Not bad. Not bad at all.

1. Ohio- FLint

Of course, everything on this list pales in comparison to flint. Useful, sharp, cool as hell when polished, it's pretty much the perfect choice for a state rock or gemstone.

Flint plays a huge part in the history of Ohio, dating back to the time when Buckeye natives fashioned them into the tips of their spears, as they forced Michigan fans out of Toledo in the early 1800s as they sought asylum from the horrors of southern Michigan. Luckily it worked, and today flint is recognized as both an impressive state symbol and one of the cooler names that you can give your child (boy or girl).

And that will do it! Next time we will take a look at state quarters, because as was suggested, that is certainly a field ripe for mockery. Thanks to CPLUNK for the ideas, and he was right: it was time to take these lists financial. So give him some dap, and see you next time.

The B1G List: State Birds | State Mottos | State FlowersState Songs | State Fossils | State Flags | TV Shows | State Trees | State Capitals | State Fish | Highest Points

View 31 Comments