Gorgeous gems like diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires are usually unearthed in places like India, East Africa, Sri Lanka, Australia, and Myanmar. The truth is, there are mines all over the US where amateur mineralogists can go and dig for gems themselves. These following mines are family friendly and some even feature on site gemologists that will analyze your findings.
Crater of Diamonds State Park
Located 120 miles from Little Rock, this 37-acre field found in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, was once a gem creating a volcanic crater. The Crater of Diamonds State Park lets you rent shovels, buckets, and knee pads for your diamond searching quest. Any shiny gems you find can be appraised on site and are yours to keep. The park’s many visitors have so far found over 30,000 diamonds. Most of them have been small but recently in June 2015, one lucky visitor found an 8.52 karat stone, worth about $1 million. Your chances of finding diamonds here are high, and the park also provides camping sites and is open year round.
Emerald Hollow Mine
The Emerald Hollow Mine is found in Hiddenite, North Carolina. It is the only emerald mine in the US that is open to the public. For a small fee, you can do your own digging here. The mine is open year round and features beautiful scenery. Located on 70 acres, you can not only find emeralds but also sapphire, tourmaline, garnet, topaz, and aquamarine. If you don’t feel like digging, the mine also offers unsifted buckets ranging from $5 to $1,000 that are enriched with gems for you to sift through and find.
Rainbow Ridge Opal Mine
The Rainbow Ridge Opal Mine is found in Virgin Valley, Nevada. The mine is open only May through September and you are expected to bring your own buckets and mining equipment. Digging for opals here is hard work, but it can pay off big time. Opals valued up to $50,000 have been found here. A camping site is found 5 miles away that offers outhouse facilities and a swimming pond. Other than opal, gold has also been found in this mine. The mine offers two digging options. A hefty fee of $600 will allow you to dig through a virgin ground load that has been excavated that morning. A $100 fee will give you access to a tailings load. Tailings are previously mined loads that are a great place for newer diggers to start with lots of material to sift through. Small hand tools for cutting through bigger rocks are available to borrow on site.