Before hunting for gemstones be sure to do research about where you will be searching. It appears that many “gem mines” do what is called “salting.” That is, the owners of the gem mines place gems for visitors to find that do not naturally occur there. Most popular gem searching sites do this, according to feedback from TripAdvisor.com. One place that does not salt the gem mines is Mason’s Ruby & Sapphire Mine in Franklin, North Carolina. They received high rated reviews, and offer a true “dig your own” experience.
Mason’s Ruby & Sapphire Mine
6961 Upper Burningtown Road.
Franklin, North Carolina 28734
This is a good place for real mining – dig your own bucket, haul it, etc.
Children under 6 free, 6-11 $15.00, 12-adult $30.00
Mason’s allows visitors to keep whatever they find, and guides help to make sure visitors do not throw out any rubies or sapphires. They only accept cash, and are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A second site called Sheffield Mine offers both salted buckets (called Rainbow Buckets) and native buckets (which can include local emeralds or rubies). General admission costs for ages 15 thru 60 is $15 each, while all others cost $10 each. They suggest arriving right at 10am to avoid a waiting line, and they are open until 5 pm. Included with the general admission price are two buckets of your choice. Each additional bucket costs more, but are very reasonable. Native Buckets after admission are $3 each or 2 for $5 and additional Regular Rainbow Buckets are $5 each or 2/$8.
Sheffield Mine also offers the following bargain buckets of gems:
Emerald Bags and Bucket – These buckets contain Emeralds from Brazil.
Super Rainbow Bucket – (3.5 gallon bucket -$25)
This bucket contains nearly every enriched gemstone from around the world that we have in stock. Several stones are a nice specimen size.
Super Duper Rainbow Bucket – (5 gallon bucket – $50)
This bucket contains a larger quantity of Enriched Gemstones as well as Mexican Opal &
1 already Cut & Polished Gemstone
The Big Easy Rainbow Bucket – (5 gallon bucket – $100)
Same size bucket as above, but almost 2 times the gemstones & a lot less dirt!
Plus Mexican Opal, Emeralds, & 2 already Cut & Polished Gemstones
Sparkle Bucket – $15
This bucket includes the translucent gemstones, some of which can be Faceted,
while some are better suited to the Cabochon Cut
Fossil Bucket – $15
This bucket contains ancient Fossils from a variety of animals and plants
Kidtastic Fun – $15
This bucket contains 3 regular Rainbow Buckets and comes with a Rock Hound Button,
a Gem ID Card and a Kid type Surprise
Ideally, plan at least two hours to complete gem mining. It is relaxing, fun, and very addictive. Going through native dirt takes about four times longer to sort through than salted dirt because of the scrubbing and rinsing that is required. Much of the rubies’ purple is hidden under years of dirt, so it takes time.
Compared with dinner and a movie, the cost of gem mining is almost the same. Only with gem mining, visitors can take their treasures with them and possibly increase their investment in the process!