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North Carolina Gem Mining

If you are a rock hound, a trip to the Gem Capital of Franklin, NC is a must. Most gem mining in the North Carolina Mountains is found in Franklin, North Carolina, located south of Dillsboro, Franklin.  There are many gem mines located in the Cowee Valley north and west of Franklin. Most of the mines have powered water sluice where you may sift through the dirt and rock called fluming that you obtain while prospecting in these gem mines. These mines contain rubies, gold, amethyst, aquamarine, sapphires, garnets and many other types of stones. The world's largest blue star sapphires were found in one of the mines in the Cowee Valley. This entire area is a gem hunters heaven.
Franklin is called “The Ruby City.”

Most of the mines sell gem dirt in a bucket or bag and some allow digging. Admission fees may be charged for the day at some mines so call ahead for details. The mines provide you with a screen for washing the gems, a water trough which is called a flume and something to sit on. The dirt goes in the screen, the screen goes in the water and the dirt gets washed away in the flume. Screening gems can be a fun activity for the entire family.

The area around Franklin, NC is loaded with gems and minerals and is perfect for rockhounds of all ages. The famous Cowee Valley north of Franklin lures visitors every year to the gem mines which yield valuable stones to  miners.

Gem Mining in the North Carolina Mountains
Lost Indian Gem Mining

Cowee Gem Region map

Cowee Gem Region link

Search for sapphires and other gems. The world's largest blue sapphire, the Star of the Carolinas, was discovered at the Old Pressley Mine. Open 7 days a week. Exit 88 off I-40. Canton NC. 828-648-6820.

Smoky Mountain Gold and Ruby Mine,Cherokee,828-497-6574
Equipment is provided and you will be able to find all sorts of gems including emeralds, rubies, sapphires, amethysts, garnets, topaz.

Nantahala Gorge Ruby Mine, 11900 U.S. 19/74 West, Bryson City 828-488-3854

Blue Ridge Gem Mines,11197 N. US 19 Soco Gap,Maggie Valley 828-926-8488

Gem City Mine, Franklin 828-524-3967.Open May 15 - October 15.

Gold City Gem Mine
9410 Sylva Rd., Highway 441, 6 miles north of Franklin
Franklin 828-369-3905 or 800-713-7767.
GOLD CITY open 5 days a week 9AM to 5:30 PM. Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Closed Wednesday and Thursday.
Free admission
A 1061 carat sapphire was found at Gold City.  Gold City features native and enriched Gemstones buckets and gold panning. New and Improved large covered flume for Gem Mining rain or shine. Inside heated flume for cold days. Located on Highway 441, 6 miles North of Franklin. Gold City Gem Mine has been featured in People Weekly, Disney Adventures and Rock and Gem magazines.

Mason's Ruby & Sapphire Mine
6961 Upper Burningtown Rd.
Franklin, NC
Open 8a.m. to 5 p.m.
Under new management. This mine, one of Macon County's oldest, productive mines, has an abundance of beautiful sapphires in all colors along with pink and red rubies.  The mine guarantees that everybody will have success their first time. Dig your own dirt. Heated pavilion in winter.
One of the last Macon County's mines where you still dig your own dirt, which can contain different color sapphires or rubies.
On June 16, 2008,  a 13 year old girl  found a 59 carat sapphire in her screen at Mason's Ruby and Sapphire Mine.  A 47.5 carat sapphire has been found along with a few 40+ and several 30+ carats since April 29, 2008, and many leave Mason's Mine with over 100  in only one day of mining.

Cherokee Ruby and Sapphire Mine
41 Cherokee Mine Road off Ruby Mine Road
Open April 1- October 31
 Mine contains only native North Carolina gemstones, including rubies, sapphires, garnets, moonstones, rhodolite, rutile and sillimanite which are occurring naturally in the Cowee Valley. The Cherokee Chief Ruby, a  huge gem quality ruby with a total weight of 1070 carats was found at this mine in 1993.

Jacobs Ruby Mine, Franklin 828-524-7022.  Open May-October.

Jones Ruby Mine, Franklin 828-524-5946. Open April - October.

Mason Mountain Mine Rhodolite and Ruby Mine, 5315 Bryson City Rd, Franklin 828-524-4570. Open seven days a week April 15 - Novmeber 15.
Native and enriched stones

Rocky Face Gem Mine, 260 Sanderstown Rd., Franklin 828-524-3148. Open 7 days a week April through October.
 A native and enriched gem mine that features a large variety of gemstones and a covered concrete flume that is located beside a lovely creek.

Rose Creek Mine with gift and rock shop
115 Terrace Ridge Dr.
 Open April through October, closed Sundays
Rose Creek Mine is one of 3 state licensed gem mines in Macon County.
Their mine features rubies, sapphires, garnets, quartz crystals, emeralds and even more.    Dig your own dirt, first bucket free with admission. They help  beginners, supply equipment,have a  covered flume line, clean restrooms, covered picnic tables, snacks.  Five miles north of Franklin on Hwy 28, left on Bennett before river.

Sheffield Mine
 385 Sheffield Farms Rd.
 Franklin 828-369-8383
 Open April through October.
As featured on the Ttravel Channel with native rubies & sapphires  or enriched rainbow buckets with semi-precious stones from around the world. Open 10am-5pm.
Admission includes 2 starter buckets.
Mine rain or shine at covered flumes. Picnic tables, Snacks & Beverages. Gem Identification. Stone Cutting and Setting available. Gift Shop. Clean restrooms. Group Discounts. Wire Wrap Classes available. Gem Dirt to Go. Fun for all ages! Relaxing atmosphere, friendly assistance.

Cowee Mountain Ruby Mine
Located 4 miles north of Franklin at the foot of Cowee Mountain just off Highway 441,, Cowee Mountain Ruby Mine is open 7 days a week from 9:00 a.m. until "The Last Person Leaves". Two covered flumes allow you to mine rain or shine. Mining instructions for the novice on premises. Free Admission. Refreshing picnic area by shade trees & running brook. Cold drinks and snacks are available in the gem shop. Buses, large or small groups welcome. Group rates are available for groups of 15 or more. Gem dirt to go is available all year. Family owned and operated.
LOCATION: 6771 Sylva Road, 828.369.5271.

The Old Cardinal Gem Mine, 71 Rockhaven Dr., Franklin 828-369-7534. Open 8am-5pm, seven days a week, year round.
Mining for rare gems is offered at this gem mine with all of the equipment furnished.  Snack bar and a picnic area.

Moonstone Gem Mine, Franklin 828-524-7764

Jackson Hole, Franklin 828-524-5850. Located above the Cullasaja Falls on Hwy. 28 & US 64 between Franklin and Highlands.

Gem and Mineral Museums in the North Carolina Mountains

Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum, 2 West Main Street, Franklin, NC, 828.369.7831. Open May 1 to October 31, Monday through Saturday 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM; Sunday 1:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Admission is free.  The museum features a fluorescent room. Located in the historic old jail on the square in Franklin, the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum highlights  exhibits related to gems, minerals, and gem mining in the North Carolina Mountains and around Franklin. The museum features specimens from around the world and Indian artifacts.  website

Colburn Gem and Mineral Museum, 2 South Pack Square, Asheville, NC, 828.254.7162. Open 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Tuesday through Saturday. June through October also open on Sundays from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Admission is $3.00 for adults, $2.50 for senior citizens, and $2.00 for children age 4 and up.

Mineral and Lapidary Museum of Henderson County,  corner of Fourth and 400 North Main Street, Hendersonville, NC, 828.698.1977. Open 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. (Weekdays open to school groups from 9:00 AM to 12:00 noon, by appointment.) Saturdays open 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission is free.