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  1. #1
    us
    Dec 2004
    Long Island New York
    White's XLT
    1,894
    2 times

    The gems of North Carolina

    Unique stones, gems and metals make North Carolina ... a treasure state
    By William R. West / Special to the Times-News
    November 18, 2007 3:00 AM
    William R. West Above are North Carolina freshwater pearls and faceted gemstones from the collection of William West. The Old North State is a veritable storehouse of gems and precious metals. Diamond, ruby, sapphire, emerald, aquamarine, golden beryl, garnet, amethyst, smoky quartz, kyanite, hiddenite and many other gemstone varieties have been found here.

    These colorful stones, when transparent or translucent, are usually faceted, or finished with flat, polished facets that reflect light. In addition to faceted gems, North Carolina produces moonstone, ruby corundum, carnelian, agate, chalcedony, jasper, petrified wood, amber, and many others that are usually cut en cabochon, that is, with a buff top.

    Fifty years ago, the Scuppernong River and Albemarle Sound on the North Carolina coast produced jewel-quality, pink freshwater pearls. Agricultural fertilizer, hog farm wastes and chemical run-off degraded the waters of the river and sound, and the pearl-producing mussels perished. Mussels, statewide, are protected now.

    Jasper of different colors and petrified wood of gem quality may be found along with fossil shark’s teeth, fossil bones and ancient seashells on the coastal beaches at times. Fine quality amber, an organic gem, often containing embedded insects, and marine fossils have been found in phosphate mines in the Coastal Plain and near Goldsboro.
    Franklin County has produced amethyst, and gold can still be panned from streams in the four corners area of Franklin, Halifax, Warren and Nash counties. During gold-sluicing operations in the area, a few diamonds were found, and diamonds have also been found in other parts of the state. Non-gem beryl was found in Warren County. Amethyst, the February birthstone, has also turned up in Iredell, Lincoln, Macon, Moore and other counties.

    Fine jasper in a variety of red and black patterns was found in a wooded area, now closed, near the present Butner hospital and as float along dirt roads in the area. Nearby, a deer hunter found a deposit of fine quality carnelian that resembled tortoiseshell, and a Creedmoor-area field, a few miles away, has produced gem quality sard and carnelian.

    Plowed fields in the Snow Camp section of Alamance County yield optical-grade quartz crystals and “nuggets,” some as large as a man’s fist. I have faceted Snow Camp quartz stones of up to 650 carats and one of them, a 450-plus carat emerald-cut stone, is now in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

    Snow Camp crystal has also been ground and polished into flawless crystal balls more than an inch in diameter. People of the Clovis Culture chipped rare projectile points from crystal in the same area 12,000 years ago.

    Throughout the years, “green bolts,” which some said were caused by lightning, turned up as farmers plowed their Alexander County fields in the Stony Point area. A geologist identified the green bolts as emerald crystals. During subsequent mining operations in the area, “pockets” found in veins of broken quartz, feldspar and mica yielded crystals of emerald, transparent and smoky quartz, blood-red rutile and emerald-green crystals of an unknown mineral.

    These unknown crystals were identified as a new gem, subsequently named Hiddenite, and local folks renamed their town for the new gemstone. Some of the transparent or smoky-quartz crystals found in the gem pockets contained inclusions of ruby-red, needle-like crystals like those found in Randolph County fields. Called rutilated quartz, this material can produce unusual and attractive gems.

    In recent years, world-class emeralds have been found, though in limited quantity, in new mines in the Hiddenite area. One such tear-shaped gem, named the “Carolina Queen,” mounted with diamonds in a necklace and valued at more than $2 million, was recently featured in an exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.

    At least one of the area mines is open to tourist prospectors for a fee. Although the odds of your finding a fortune at such operations are low, there is always a chance. Several years ago, a teenager found an egg-size emerald crystal there that he sold for “big bucks.”

    Mitchell, Yancey, Avery, Macon and other mountain counties have been major producers of fine gemstones. Most of the gem materials were found during mining for mica, feldspar, beryl, or for corundum for use as an abrasive. A small prospect in Avery County has produced moonstone and facet-quality transparent feldspar. The moonstone displays a silver “moon” when polished as a dome-shaped gem.

    Mitchell County is best known for the beryl gems: emerald, aquamarine and heliodor, or golden beryl. Other mountain counties also yield corundum that can be ground and polished to produce a moon, star, or cat’s-eye pattern in domed gems of blue, blue-gray, red or bronze color.

    During the 1960s and early 1970s, a gem-bearing pegmatite vein in Mitchell County was worked as the Crabtree Emerald Mine until ground water made further mining too costly. The vein produced fine, small, facet-grade emerald crystals, golden beryl, black tourmaline and non-gem garnet. Most of the mine’s gem production was in the form of emerald matrix, that is, the vein material was ground and polished as cabochons, or buff-top stones. The unique gems consisted of small emerald crystals, black tourmaline and red garnets in a light-colored matrix. Visitors paid a fee to search the waste material hauled from the mine and many found facet-grade emeralds and emerald matrix.

    A number of fine gems were faceted from aquamarine found at the old Carter’s Ridge Mine near Spruce Pine. Today, visitors to the area can search for gemstones at for-fee “gem mine” tourist operations. Fine aquamarine, the sea-blue or blue-green gem beryl, has been found in a number of area mines, for example, the Ray Mica Mine near Burnsville in Yancey County.

    Aquamarine, the birthstone for March, may be pure sea-blue or greenish-blue in color. The greenish-blue material, which produces an attractive gemstone in its own right, is often heat-treated to remove the greenish color.

    Cowee Valley, near Franklin in Macon County, has produced rubies, sapphires, almandine garnet, rhodolite garnet, gold and several other minerals. Some of the transparent ruby and sapphire rough produces small faceted gems while other rough can yield dome-shaped “star” stones. In my opinion, the most beautiful gems from area rough are the brilliant, purple-pink rhodolite garnets.

    Gold has been found in more than half of the state’s 100 counties and small amounts of platinum have been found in Yancey County. I found a few tiny flakes of platinum, 3¼ ounces of gold and gem-quality petrified wood in a Harnett County gravel operation some years ago.

    A number of streams in Alamance County, including at least one within the city limits of Burlington, still yield small amounts of gold to the diligent prospector.
    Be alert when you are out and about the state. A treasure may turn up just about anywhere.

    For example, a superb transparent quartz crystal was unearthed by a bulldozer when Cum-Park Plaza was being built. Road cuts yield amethyst, crystal quartz, garnets and other gem materials.

    Mastodon molars turn up on coastal beaches. A large meteorite was found in a plowed field near Castalia, N.C. A cotton patch in Stanly County produced gold, and diamonds turned up in gold sluices in Mecklenburg County.

    Treasure is out there. Now go out and find what I have missed.

    William R. West is a retired from Carolina Biological Supply Company. He lives in Burlington.

    kenb

  2. #2
    us
    Aug 2005
    NH
    2,285
    4 times

    Re: The gems of North Carolina

    Wow!
    How cool is ALL that ?
    Thanks for posting!
    When you get into a tight place and everything goes against
    you till it seems you could not hold on a minute longer,
    never give up then for that is just the place and time that
    the tide will turn.

    Harriet Beecher Stowe

  3. #3
    us
    Feb 2004
    lake mary florida
    Wesmar SHD700SS Side Scan Sonar,U/W Mac 1 Turbo Aquasound by American Electronics,Fisher 1280x,Aquasound UW md,Aqua pulse AQ1B
    2,054
    54 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: The gems of North Carolina

    I was just up in NC for thanxgiving an the following weekend.I knew that gems were in the area.Just didnt know about any gold being found.While i was there i talked with some old timers at some of the stores.All said there was no gold to be found in any of the rivers.This was around lake Lure.Maybe they didnt get out much an just minded thier stores.North Carolina led the nation in gold production until 1848, when it was eclipsed by the great rush to California.
    Millions of dollars of Spanish treasure await those who would dare brave the eye of the hurricane.

  4. #4
    LandStar

    Re: The gems of North Carolina

    DUDE!!!...I'm moving to North Carolina...ROFL...

  5. #5
    us
    Feb 2004
    lake mary florida
    Wesmar SHD700SS Side Scan Sonar,U/W Mac 1 Turbo Aquasound by American Electronics,Fisher 1280x,Aquasound UW md,Aqua pulse AQ1B
    2,054
    54 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: The gems of North Carolina

    I guess with the price of gold where it is now,it would be worth going up there to look for some gold with a MD or even panning for it in rivers.theres even a few old cabins you can stay in.ill stay at my parents new log cabin 8)heres some pics.
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    Millions of dollars of Spanish treasure await those who would dare brave the eye of the hurricane.

  6. #6

    Apr 2007
    North Carolina
    3,492
    1 times

    Re: The gems of North Carolina

    Thanks for posting this article. I have a many of summers and fall traveled to the mountains to gem mine. I was lucky enough to find Rubies and other gems ! Some small but well worth the fun time spent for the search. On my farm I walk and find arrowheads as well as sharks teeth . We are 90 miles form the coast
    That man is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much.......   Robert Lewis Stevenson

  7. #7

    Dec 2006
    106

    Re: The gems of North Carolina

    I lived in the black mountain area for a number of years if you are not from the mountain the local will not tell you a thing, I have been in service stations when flat lander would ask for direction and the local would send them off on a wild goose chase. I ask one of them why did they do that and they said, it would teach them not to go to some place ,an not know how to get there

  8. #8
    us
    Connie

    Jun 2013
    Snow Camp NC
    Whites
    12
    3 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    My friend lives in Snow Camp (Bethal South Fork road around the major hill area. I have collected quartz rocks from his land. There are so many quartz rocks all over his land. I have permission to get as many quartz rocks as I want and I have, but some are so big I have to get help lifting the rock into the truck. He tells me there is gold on his land. I been looking, but have not had any luck yet. My family lives in Black Mountain and I am going up this Summer and trying ,my luck for gems or gold.
    Last edited by johnsonconnie34; Jan 16, 2014 at 04:39 AM.

  9. #9

    Mar 2014
    26
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    How about near chapel hill!? Anything worth looking into? I have 70 acres outside of the limits and i have the creek that connects to university lake on my land. Price/morgan creek i think

  10. #10
    us
    Frank

    Jun 2013
    Jefferson City, Tennessee
    JW Fisher Pulse 8X; Minelab CTX 3030 & Sovereign Elite; White's GM II, Beach Hunter Id, Surf PI, Coinmaster Classic II, 6000 Di S2, Two 2000-D S3's, old GM 66-T with 5 coils & GM 65-T with 3 coils
    2,070
    903 times
    Prospecting
    Quote Originally Posted by FISHEYE View Post
    I was just up in NC for thanxgiving an the following weekend.I knew that gems were in the area.Just didnt know about any gold being found.While i was there i talked with some old timers at some of the stores.All said there was no gold to be found in any of the rivers.This was around lake Lure.Maybe they didnt get out much an just minded thier stores.North Carolina led the nation in gold production until 1848, when it was eclipsed by the great rush to California.
    It is possible that the old timers did not know but they may have lied to you to keep outsiders from looking for Gold. Lake Lure the site where some scenes from Dirty Dancing were filmed, was found to have veins of Gold on the bottom near the center of the lake. My ex-wife and I found this out on a trip during our Anniversary in 2005 or 2006 (yeah, my memory is getting that bad). There is also Gem (and I believe) and Gold Mine directly across the lake from where the dancing was filmed in the movie Dirty Dancing. We were also told that a company was supposedly going to mine the Gold off the bottom of Lake Lure but haven't heard of anything since.


    Frank
    U.S. Army Veteran (Nov. 27, 1972 to Mar. 30, 1978) and Retired Federal Government Employee with total Federal Service of over 38 years. I am a Coin Collector and Coin Researcher at heart with my main interests in Error & Variety Coins. However, I also love Gold and Gem Prospecting, Metal Detecting when and where I can, Ginseng and other Herb Hunting, Long Range Shooting, Hunting and Fishing.

  11. #11
    us
    Metal Detecting Gold Prospecting Geocaching

    Feb 2012
    North Carolina
    37
    1 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Quote Originally Posted by johnsonconnie34 View Post
    My friend lives in Snow Camp (Bethal South Fork road around the major hill area. I have collected quartz rocks from his land. There are so many quartz rocks all over his land. I have permission to get as many quartz rocks as I want and I have, but some are so big I have to get help lifting the rock into the truck. He tells me there is gold on his land. I been looking, but have not had any luck yet. My family lives in Black Mountain and I am going up this Summer and trying ,my luck for gems or gold.
    Hello, I fell across this and had to get intouch with you! I also live by Snow Camp and have friends who do have GREAT Gold there and Crystals like mad! I would like to get up with you and go out propsecitn some day?

    If I don't answer here, please try my site at Geo Detecting Treasure.

    Bill
    *** GEODetecting.com is combination of Metal Detecting, GPS, History & Geocaching to find REAL Treasures!

 

 

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