Have you ever fancied trying your hand at being a real-life treasure hunter? After all, what could be more exciting than tracking down your very own valuable gemstones!
But how do you go about it? Never fear – we’re here to help! We’re going to tell you where to find gemstones in the US. And we’ll share everything you need to know to prepare for your search.
So if you’re ready for a gemstone adventure, step this way …
What’s out there?
You might be wondering what kinds of gemstones it’s possible to find in the USA. The answer is – plenty!
Sapphires, emeralds, rubies, pearls and diamonds can all be found on American soil. And you can also find semi-precious stones like turquoise, jade, opal, tourmaline and sunstone.
The simplest way to start your gemstone quest is to head to one of the many mines that admit visitors. Lots of them will allow you to sift through the rocks, and some even provide you with tools for the job. And if you find something exciting, they may also be able to cut and polish your gem for a fee.
So if that’s whetted your appetite, read on for some of the best locations out there!
If you like the idea of taking in spectacular scenery whilst hunting for gems, Big Sur’s Jade Cove Trail could be right up your street.
Here green cliffs overlook a dramatic seascape, drawing hikers and dog walkers from miles around. But look down and you may also spot pieces of jade, the beautiful green stone prized for centuries.
This is a protected area, so you’ll need to be mindful of the rules when rock hunting. But as long as you don’t dig for rocks, or pick up anything above the mean tide line, you’ll be fine.
The best specimens are usually beneath the ocean, meaning they’re inaccessible. But wait for low tides or hunt after a storm, and you may strike it lucky. Larger waves often carry great finds to the shore.
Located in the beautiful state of Montana, the Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine is one of the oldest in the US. It opened its doors in 1892, and allows you to conduct your own gemstone search.
Guides are on hand to help, and all the equipment you’ll need is provided on site. Simply wash the gravel and find your own sapphires. Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, or you can purchase an apron at the mine.
You can get your finds graded at the mine too. And you can even have them heat treated and faceted, ready for use in your own jewelry.
The mine is open seasonally, so check the website for details before you head out there. And note that you’ll need to reserve your place in advance.
If emeralds – the birthstone for May – are your bag, check out Emerald Hollow Mine in North California. It’s the world’s only emerald mine where you’re able to join in the fun and hunt out your own stones.
It’s located in Hiddenite, home to a plethora of gemstones. Alongside emeralds, you may be lucky enough to find tourmaline, sapphire, amethyst, topaz, citrine, sapphire, aquamarine or garnet. And there’s even a rare gemstone found only in a few places around the world, also called Hiddenite.
You can buy buckets to sift through, with either native or enriched contents. And you can rent plastic trowels and sifting screens to help in your search. You can also prospect in the creek, or dig in the mine.
Different permits are required for all three activities, with combo options for those who want to try them all.
It’s open every day, from 8.30 in the morning to sunset. But bad weather can close the sluiceway, so call ahead if conditions are iffy.
Visit San Diego’s Oceanview Mine and you can combine prospecting with a look at a fully operational mineworks. The gemstones found here include tourmaline, kunzite and morganite.
Your pass will give you everything you need for your hunt. That means buckets, shovels, water and screens. You’ll have four hours to sort through a pile of dirt and gravel from the mine, and you can keep whatever you find.
If the time isn’t quite enough, you can also take home a 5-gallon bucket of your washed and screened rocks.
Each dig day starts promptly at 11am. Get there by 10.30 to give yourself time to handle the payment and paperwork before you drive to the start point.
If you’re looking for something a little different, why not prospect for fairy stones? These amazing stone crystals, formed in a cross shape, are found in only a few places around the world.
Legend has it that they were formed from the tears of fairies on learning about the Crucifixion – hence the crosses. They’re considered to be good luck, and rumored to have been carried by presidents Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt.
Commercial excavation of the stones is prohibited, but you can take what you find for your own use. And if you don’t strike it lucky, you can buy rough or filed stones from the gift shop.
The park is open daily from 8am to 10pm.
Denio’s Royal Peacock Opal Mine has been open to the public since 1981. Pay a fee and you can search for opals of all colors, including black, lemon, moss, white and crystal. It’s also the only place to find fluorescent opals, which gleam green under black light.
Safety gear is required, and you can hire hard hats, shoe covers and safety glasses at the shop. There are also picks, shovels and rakes to rent. Note that the numbers are limited, though, so it’s a good idea to bring what you need.
The gift shop is open daily between 7.30am and 4.30pm. Note that you’ll need to check-in there first, before you head out to dig.
Head to St. Johnsville and you can hunt for Herkimer diamonds at the Crystal Grove Diamond Mine. Before you plan on funding an early retirement with your finds, however, note that these “diamonds” are actually quartz. But they’re still very pretty.
You can stay at the campsite, getting a full day’s mining from 9am to sunset. And you can also hire tools if you need them – return them by 4.45pm. Crack hammers, sift kits, rock chisels and shovels are all available.
Make sure you bring protective equipment too. You’ll need work boots, safety glasses and gloves. And remember to bring a Ziplock bag for your finds!
Whether you’re a day visitor or overnight guest, you’ll need a separate permit to mine. And if digging out crystals sounds too much like hard work, you can sluice instead.
If you want the real thing, head to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. It’s the only mine where you can prospect for diamonds and keep what you find.
You can dig for victory, or simply pick up diamonds from the ground. And if that sounds too good to be true, you’ll want to know that visitors to the park have found over 30,000 diamonds to date.
That includes a massive 16-carat stone found by one lucky prospector in 1975. And in 2015, an 8.52 carat diamond was found. That one holds the record for the most valuable diamond ever mined in the US. Most diamonds, however, are small and included – but they’re still fun to find!
All the equipment you could possibly need is available to hire or purchase. And the 37.5 acre site is open year-round.
Morefield Mine is situated about an hour from Richmond. Head there to hunt for a range of gemstones, including amazonite, amethyst, garnet, topaz and beryl.
The mine sits 300 feet beneath the ground. The owners use explosives to expand it at intervals, so there’s always a new area to explore.
You won’t be able to use hammers or pickaxes here, but keep your eyes peeled and you can pick up stones from the ground. You can almost guarantee finding an interesting specimen of some kind to take home.
The site is closed periodically for survey and expansion. Check the website to ensure it’s open before you start your journey.
Head to Franklin, North Carolina, and you can hunt for gems at the Cherokee Ruby and Sapphire Mine.
The mine is open daily, and the entry price includes one bucket of gem ore. Note that only cash is accepted at the site. The last admission is 1pm six days a week, 2pm on Sundays.
The ore here is unsalted. That means finding something is more challenging, but when you do, it’s likely to be better quality.
You may even be lucky enough to find a rare star ruby. These feature needle-shaped shards of rutile, which form a six-pointed star in the stone.
Ready to find some gemstones?
We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to where to find gemstones in the US! Whether you’re looking for an interesting good luck token like fairy stones, or hope for a valuable diamond, there’s a location here to suit.
Enjoy your search, and good luck in finding something beautiful!