Rare Gems and Minerals in Tennessee

The eastern part of Tennessee is dominated by the Appalachian Mountains and the stateís border on its western side is bounded by the Mississippi River. The presence of the mountains has led to deposits of various gemstones and minerals in the state. The western side of Tennessee is home to some marine fossils. Sedimentary limestone rock is found throughout Tennessee in abundance and contains many of the fossil specimens.

Freshwater Pearls

Pearl is the official state gemstone of Tennessee. The pearls in Tennessee are found in the freshwater rivers and streams flowing in the state and are a product created by the mussels that live in the freshwaters. Natural pearls come from many of the rivers in the state. Nowadays, Tennessee produces large amounts of cultured fresh water pearls that are found in various shapes such as teardrop, triangle, marquis, bar, navette, coin shaped and cabochon.


Some of the most exclusive varieties of agates are found in Tennessee.

The Paint Rock Agate is the most popular variety of agate in the state. It is found in wide spectrum of colors and has varied patterns. Some common varieties of the Paint Rock Agate are clear or milky agate, yellowish brown agate and agate with bands or swirls of red hue.

One of the most appealing varieties is a transparent agate which has red colored bead like scattered hue floating within the stone. The locations where the Paint Rock Agate can be found in Tennessee are the Greasy Cove, Mokay, Dripping Stone and Greenhaw located in Franklin County and Saw Mill, Heartbreak and Strawberry areas in Grundy County.

The other popular and rare kind of agate found in Tennessee is the Iris Agate. The Iris Agate has very thin bands of various colors and almost appears transparent. The Stone displays rainbow like color patterns when subjected to light from a particular direction. These agates can be found at Horse Mountains situated in the town of Wartrace in Bedford County, Tennessee.


Gold can be panned from Coker Creek and Tellico River in southeastern Tennessee. These are very interesting gold deposit due to the fact that they are so isolated from other gold sources.

Pterotrigonia Thoracia Fossils

Pterotrigonia fossil was declared as the official state fossil of Tennessee in 1998. These are the fossils of the extinct species of marine water clams that are similar to mollusks, oysters, mussels and scallops.

These fossils belonged to the geological periods from the Jurassic age to the Cretaceous age. The Pterotrigonia was a shallow burrowing feeder which was in the shape of a wedge and lived on the ocean floor over seventy million years ago. These fossils are found at the Coon Creek area located in the McNairy County of Tennessee.

This site also has fossils of shark teeth, shells and snails belonging to the later cretaceous period.

Other Fossils

Tennessee was a very different place during the cretaceous period when water covered much of the state. There were a wide variety of marine animals that are now found as fossils. Larger species such as camels, horses, mastadons, and giant sloth bones have been unearthed in Tennessee.

Although there are some nice mineral specimens that can be collected in Tennessee, it is most definitely the fossils that are found here that attract the most attention. There is such a rich and wide variety of different fossil types that you can find here. It is a great state to explore, and some of the best places to look are near Nashville, Knoxville, and other large towns. So you donít necessarily need to travel far to find them.