North Carolina is perhaps the state which has the largest amount and variety of gemstones and minerals in the United States. On the western side of the state are the Blue Ridge Mountains consisting of a mixture of metamorphic, igneous and sedimentary rocks which have one of the richest sources of minerals and gemstones in the world.
Rubies and Sapphires
Corundum is a form of aluminum oxide and one of the hardest substances known after diamond. Corundum was initially mined for use as an industrial abrasive but later with the introduction of synthetic abrasives, corundum and its varieties have been used as gemstones. The various corundum gemstones available in the state of North Carolina include ruby red, various hues of green, pink, sapphire and dark blue, purple, gray, yellow brown and colorless.
You have likely heard of corundum gemstones by their more common names based on color. Blue stones are called sapphires, greens are called emeralds, and the red stones are rubies. These are the most valuable varieties of the gemstone, but a wide variety of colors occur.
The most precious of the corundum gemstones of emerald green and sapphire blue colors have been found in the Corundum Hill Mine situated in Macon County. Another source of good sapphire stones has been the Sapphire and White Water Mine in Jackson County as well as the Grimshawe Mine in Montvale.
Rubies have been mostly found at Cowee Creek which lies to the north of Franklin in Macon County. Rubies have also been sourced from the Grimshawe Mine situated close to Montvale in Jackson County.
Ruby and pink corundum gemstones have been recovered from mines in Buck Creek in Clay County.
The Crabtree Emerald Mine situated within the Wild Mountains of North Carolina was one of the most popular and commercially operated mines for emeralds up to mid-1990s. The mine is now closed for commercial mining; however, it remains open for rock hounding visitors at a nominal fee. Some good crystals of emeralds can still be found at the site.
Other locations where emeralds are found are at a mine situated close to the place called Hiddenite in the Alexander County, the Spruce Pine District located in the Mitchell County and in Cleveland County near the eastern bank of the First Broad River.
Garnet is found in various metamorphic rocks present in the state. The types of garnet found in North Carolina are almandite and rhodolite. These garnets occur in very dark or black colors. Some of the locations in North Carolina where garnets can be found are at Morganton in the Burke County, Madison in Rockingham County, Penland in Mitchell County, Garnet Mine located in the Madison County, Bear Creek District in Mitchell County, and Twilley’s Garnet Mine located near Morganton in Bruke County.
Many types of quartz are found in the state of North Carolina. Among the various types the most attractive and wanted quartz is the amethyst. Amethyst is commonly found in Warren, Wake, Franklin, Davidson, Clark, Macon, Haywood, Catawba, Lincoln and Iredell counties. Of these, the best amethysts have been sourced from Catawba, Lincoln and Macon Counties.
Very beautiful varieties of the smoky quartz crystals have been found in Stony Point, Hiddenite and Taylorsville in Alexander County. Extremely transparent rock crystals which are used to make art objects, crystal cubes and crystal balls have been found in the Long Shoals Creek of Ashe County and from Burke and Alexander Counties.
Similar quartz material has also been obtained from Mitchell County near Bakersville and Elkin in Surry County.
Sagenite, which is a type of quartz has been found in a number of places in Alexander, Catawba, Randolph, Iredell, Jackson and Burke Counties.
A Huge Array of Gems and Minerals
In addition to the above mentioned minerals and gemstones, other gem materials like staurolite, topaz, tourmaline, aquamarine and citrine are also found in various counties across North Carolina.
This is perhaps the best state to find such a wide variety of gems and minerals in the United States, particularly some of the most valuable types. Of course many of the best collecting sites are located on private lands that are actively being mined. However, there are quite a few sites that you can pay a fee for daily access that you can try digging for your own gems.
Most of the collecting sites in North Carolina produce a wide variety of different gems and minerals at the same location.