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Retail Jeweler Buys a Mine

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INSTORE VortexMineThe Vortex Mine in Montana has a new owner.

He dreamed for many years of owning it.

Don Baide, owner of the Gem Gallery in Bozeman, MT, has bought a mine that is the world’s only source of Yogo sapphires.

The Vortex Mine, located in Judith Basin County near the middle of the state, has been closed for five years, according to the Gem Gallery’s website.

Baidle recently reached a deal for the mine with Laurie Roberts, widow of former owner/operator Mike Roberts. The purchase includes all claims, rights and equipment, according to the site.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Mike Roberts died in an accident inside the mine in 2012.

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According to the Gem Gallery site: “After Mike’s death, the mine went through rigorous safety updates. After passing all inspections, it was reopened for a brief season. We will continue improving the mine’s infrastructure to guarantee that it is a safe, sustainable operation.”

Baide has started a new company, Yogo Mining Co., that will operate the mine, organize the stone cutting and distribute Yogos.

“Our six-person team will use drill and blast mining technics 350 feet underground to extract Yogos from its unique linear vein formation,” according to the site. “We intend to run the mine on a seasonal basis. This should produce a sustainable flow of Yogos that will supply jewelers around the state without creating a shock to the market.

“We will cut all of our larger stones domestically, including using several local Montana gem cutters. All small stones will be cut internationally.”

The mine acquisition means changes at the Gem Gallery, which INSTORE has honored in its America’s Coolest Stores program.

“Don has dreamed of owning the Yogo mine for most of his career,” according to the website. “Now that his dream has become a reality, the mine will be his primary focus. He will still be actively involved at The Gem Gallery, but his time in the store will be limited. Jason Baide, Don’s son, has worked his way up from sweeping floors to doing repair work and custom design work. For the past year Jason has been the store manager. He will be taking over many of Don’s responsibilities at the store. Don will still be available for appointments on limited days during the mining season.”

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