The Idaho 281 Star Garnet
My father, Dudley Stewart, discovered the specific way in which to cut the rough garnet from the Emerald Creek area in order to reveal the star or rays within the stone. He pioneered the Idaho Star Garnet and introduced it into the market in 1951. In that same year Dudley hauled his finished Star Garnets to the 1951 Sacramento CA. Gem and Mineral show in his1937 Chevy panel truck pulling a trailer behind, the truck broke down in the middle of downtown Sacramento during rush hour! Anyway, the Stars were a hit and in 1954-55 copyrighted books officially acknowledged the fact that the Idaho Star garnet rough coming out of the Emerald Creek area could produce an excellent good quality star. The Stewart's Gem Shop's specialty is Idaho Star Garnets and we stand by all our Star Garnet rough as the best you can get anywhere in the world. Garnets are fairly common and can be found just about anywhere, but not the quality that came out of the 281 Gulch. The 281 Gulch Creek is where the "best of the best" rough star garnet cutting material the Emerald creek area produced, with a 100% chance you'll get at least a 4 ray star and 50% chance of a 6 ray star outcome. The left fork of 281 produces the best "silk" in the star garnet which causes the the star. The stars are much brighter and the stones are much cleaner with less iron inclusions or blemishes. The left fork has been worked hard (similar to dredging) at least 3 times and has been depleted. Some of the 281 material has been washed down into the Emerald creek area and some pieces have been found. Digging for garnets is no longer allowed and visitors now will take garnet-bearing gravels from a stockpile provided by the USFS to one of the two sluices where they can wash and screen the gravels for garnets.
Unless you were digging back in the 60's or happen to buy some from some old diggers, you can't get 281 in large quantities. The bulk of the proven star garnet rough on the market today is found in India and northern Idaho.
Gene Stewart Stewart's Gem Shop Inc. Boise, Idaho 5/05/06