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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

Not-So-Hidden Treasure in Hiddenite - Emerald Hollow Mine

By March 23, 2008

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Are you looking for a fun yet inexpensive family adventure? Try mining gems at the Emerald Hollow Mine in Hiddenite, North Carolina. I didn't know anything at all about the mine, just wanted to find a fun activity for Spring Break... I ran a Google search for 'North Carolina Gems' and came across a link to this mine, which turns out to be the only emerald mine in the US open to the public for prospecting. I lived in Tennessee for 15 years, so I knew about rubies and sapphires in the region, but I saw the word 'emerald' and was hooked. So... I printed driving directions using the mapquest link provided on the website, filled the car with gas, loaded up the kids (I have four, ages 9-14) and off we went.

The price of admission is $5, which includes a bucket of rough material from the mine that you can sluice. So... the trip, except for gas, was less expensive than taking the kids to the movies. For another $3 you can go to the creek to look for gems in the stream. For a total of $15 you can sluice, creek, and mine. You can rent tools for a nominal fee. There are picnic tables under the tree by the stream. There are 'enriched' buckets of mine rough that you can purchase for sluicing.

What did we find? Well, first let me tell you what I was expecting. First, I fully anticipated getting lost, but the map was clear and the signs to the mine were obvious. Second, I expected to get gouged financially. Nah... if you buy an enriched bucket I assure you it's an excellent value. I got a $5 ruby/sapphire bucket which contained corundum (though our best pieces came from the creek). I got a $25 beryl bucket which was full of emeralds. Third, I expected no one would be at the mine. I guess someone found a million dollar emerald recently, so it was pretty busy and we actually waited in line to pay admission. That was okay... we found garnets and a small, pretty ruby on the ground waiting to check in.

There were stones for everyone. Pretty colors. Valuable finds. You can find emerald, aquamarine, topaz, garnet, ruby, sapphire, tourmaline, amethyst, quartz, and several other gemstones. You don't have to know what to look for in advance -- the staff and other 'miners' are very helpful. I think the only way you wouldn't enjoy this trip is if you hate the outdoors or else hate getting wet/dirty (you will get dirty). Everyone left with treasures... not just my family, but everyone I saw, incuding the rockhounds who were there for serious mining.

Emerald Hollow Photos | Gemstone Photo Gallery
Photo: Hiddenite is a rare gemstone that can be found in (you guessed it) Hiddenite, NC. It ranges in color from yellow-green to emerald green. (Anne Helmenstine) Add to Technorati Favorites


March 23, 2008 at 9:59 pm
(1) HereticPrincess says:

Very cool! My fiance and I plan on trying to check it out this summer!

April 3, 2008 at 6:24 pm
(2) Roman says:

We were there last April and plan to go end of this April as well. My son and I has fun. My wife and daughter, not so much the outdoors dig in the dirt type, didn’t enjoy it. But I’m making them all go again this year and plan to dig some more. I found lots of various stones and gems. Kids are looking forward to it. It on our way to FLorida from Canada, about the halfway mark, so it great to add the adventure.

May 15, 2008 at 9:32 pm
(3) hayley murray says:

my grandmother aunt and little sister and i plan on coming down in the end of june hoping to hit the mother lode!!!!!!!!!

June 9, 2008 at 10:51 pm
(4) bluegill says:

Thanks for sharing your adventure. I plan on visiting the Emerald Hollow Mine next week and have no previous experience in gem hunting.

April 25, 2009 at 3:30 am
(5) jasonb says:

Emerald hollow is a big rip-off. They hand salt the creek with non-native gemstones. those rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and amethyst are shipped in by the barrel full and hand thrown in the creek. It’s not real mining. Nothing you find is worth anything so don’t get your hopes up. trust me I know

April 25, 2009 at 8:52 am
(6) chemistry says:

It’s definitely true they salt the stream and their buckets. They freely admit that. I don’t think the ‘adventure’ would be nearly so attractive for young kids if they didn’t at least find pretty rocks. However, you can find some decent beryl and corundum, plus there really is hiddenite there.

October 16, 2010 at 8:17 pm
(7) Linda says:

We took the grandson his excitement alone was priceless! They also have a great Hotdog.

August 25, 2013 at 8:28 am
(8) R. Ramster says:

It was very busy on a Saturday but everone was nice and we had fun. Kids especially enjoy the hunt. So what if the gems a “salted”? It is the experience of slopping around in the mud with family that counts. The price is reasonable, besides.

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