Finders Keepers: Gem Hunting In The U.S.

North Carolina in particular attracts gem hunters from the world over for emeralds, rubies and sapphires. Even though diamonds are not easily found in the U.S., many head for Arkansas. Jade is found in California.

Gem hunting is such an addiction, many spend their lifetimes looking for those little diamonds and colourful precious stones. 

Almost every state in the U.S. has one or more mines or “digs” where members of the public are allowed to look for gems. They usually charge a small fee and every year many thousands of individuals go to such mines and digs to try their luck. Some go for the experience and the fun of it and others because they need their fix.

Most of these mines and the digs have a clear policy of allowing you to keep what you find. 

Before we get to that let’s see which organisations and institutions may be good for the young would be gem experts, to get in touch with.

 

Gemological Institute of America

https://www.gia.edu offers diploma and graduate programs through several of the campuses in many parts of the world. They have campuses in Carlsbad and New York; USA, London, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Mumbai and Taipei. Many of their programs lead to specialisations such as Applied Jewelry, Coloured Stones, Diamonds, Gemology, Jewelry Design and Technology, and Pearls.

 

International Gem Society

https://www.gemsociety.org/ has courses for both professionals and enthusiasts. For professionals they offer specialised courses in diamonds and gemology, leading to certification. They have more than 1500 articles addressing many areas of gemology on their website and most of these are quite informative.

 

Gem hunting

in the U.S. can be quite an unusual, fascinating and a paying proposition even for those planning a hiking trip to those areas. Enthusiasts often end up with finds worth several thousands of dollars along with the diehard hunters. 

As a gem hunter you will need to equip yourself well and some of the basic tools you will need are a watch that tells you the altitude, polarised sunglasses to avoid excessive glare while working outside, good quality chisels, hammers in different sizes including a sledge hammer, pest repellants, brushes, torch lights and saws. It’s best to obtain full guidance from professional institutions such as the International Gem Society before you venture out gem hunting. It’s also always preferable to be in a team of at least two.

 

Different stones are found depending upon the state. North Carolina in particular attracts gem hunters from the world over for emeralds, rubies and sapphires. Even though diamonds are not easily found in the U.S., many head for Arkansas. Jade is found in California. Graves Mountain in Georgia attracts hunters for crystal and several other semi-precious stones. Alaska is known for jade, garnets, agates and diamonds. Nevada, Oregon and Idaho get gem hunters for opal.

Many a book has been written by gem hunters. Quite assuredly it’s not all about the thrill and the profit, but a lifestyle.

Picture: Shutterstock / ID: 755443087

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