Dig for Emeralds and Sapphires in North Carolina
Located in Hiddenite, North Carolina, less than an hour from the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Emerald Hollow Mine is the only emerald mine in the world that is open to the public for prospecting. It is located in the heart of one of the only emerald-bearing deposits on the North American continent. Amateur treasure hunters often leave with gems worth hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
In addition to emeralds, more than 63 different types of natural gems and minerals can be found here, such as aquamarine, sapphire, garnet, topaz, amethyst, citrine, rutile, tourmaline, and hiddenite. In fact, this is the only place in the world where the very rare gemstone hiddenite can be found!
There are three ways you can prospect for gems here: sluicing, creeking, and digging in the mine itself.
This is the easiest way to uncover gems and can be done at any age and at any level of fitness. Their sluice is a long, narrow, table-high channel of moving water where you can sit and wash buckets of ore to find gemstones. The sluiceway is covered by a roof to protect you from the weather.
For $5 you can purchase a Sluicing Permit for the day, which includes one complimentary bucket of ore. Prices for additional buckets range from $2 to $100, with many varieties and prices of buckets to choose from. They provide you with buckets filled with unprocessed (“virgin”) ore that has not been worked and has been taken directly from the mine.
If you visit during the chilly seasons, they recommend that you bring some latex gloves to keep your hands dry. If you’re planning to spend more than an hour or two, they recommend you bring a seat cushion as well. Everything else is provided for you.
They also suggest that you wear old clothes and shoes and plan on getting dirty. Which means it’s a good idea to bring a change of clothes and shoes, an old towel or two, sunscreen, and bug spray.
Encompassing more than 70 beautiful wooded acres with access to over a half mile of winding creeks filled with gemstones from the mine above, these creeks are seldom more than ankle to knee deep. You work the creek gravels with a screen.
You can get a one-day Sluicing/Creeking Permit for $8, which allows you unlimited access to both the creek and the sluiceway. If you don’t have tools, they will rent you a creek screen and hand shovel for only $1 more (with a $5 refundable deposit). Children three and under are free, as long as they don’t take up a seat on the sluiceway.
Digging at the Mine
If you want to “work the mine,” that’s another option. Digging at the mine can be hard work, but many motherlode finds are made chasing veins. For those who prefer easier prospecting, there is also lots of bare ground for surface collecting in the mining area.
A one-day Combination Permit is $15. It allows you to use the sluice and explore the creeks as well as dig in permitted areas of the mine. If you did not bring digging tools, they rent a digging set for only $2 (plus a $10 refundable deposit).
NOTE: According to OSHA/EPA regulations, if you bring with you anything more than buckets, shovels, and small rock hammers, you are considered a “serious digger” and must pay $45 for the Digging Permit. Plus your tools must be approved.
Wooded picnic areas and public restrooms are available on the site. RV parks with complete hookups are located nearby. There are hotels, restaurants, and other accommodations available in the nearby towns of Statesville and Taylorsville.
Hours of Operation
Emerald Hollow Mine is open 362 days a year; closed only on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Hours of operation are 8:30am to sunset (which ranges from 5:00pm in mid-winter to 7:00pm in mid-summer).
For more information……
Visit their website, located at http://hiddenitegems.com.
Call: 1-866-600-GEMS (1-866-600-4367) or 1-828-632-3394