On July 20, 1995, young Griffin McCurry appeared on the David Letterman Show with the sapphire he recently found in a paid for "bucket of dirt" at the Gold City Gem Mine in Franklin, North Carolina. When David Letterman inquired as to the value of the sapphire, young Griffin responded that it was worth $45,000.
Griffin kept the rock because he liked its shape and was unaware it was a gemstone when he first discovered the 1104 carat sapphire. According to an article in People Magazine, it was a saleswoman in the concession's jewelry store who identified the stone as a sapphire.
Many rockhounds have expressed skepticism concerning the true origin of this sapphire and it's value. Skeptics allege that operators of "pay for dirt" concessions in this area are known to "salt" their buckets with non-native material. They also point out that the owners of the operation where this sapphire was found may have a conflict of interest in providing an accurate appraisal of it's value. During the summer the mine reportedly can draw up to 1000 visitors a day who buy buckets of dirt for $6 each.
Just a week pior to Griffin's find, another young rockhound, fifth-grader Lawrence Shield, discovered a 1,061 carat stone with a reported value of $35,000 at the same concession. Lawrence reportedly dreams of buying a fishing boat to be named The Sapphire. Griffin wants to return to the Gold City Gem Mine next year and "find a big ruby". His father Ralph said "I think what he likes best about it is getting dirty."
One thing's for sure, this young rockhound is unlikely to forget finding the sapphire any time soon! A 1104 carat sapphire, even if it's not of the highest gem quality, is probably in that class of rocks that rate names. You know, rocks like the "Angel of the Andes" emerald or the "Moon of the Mountains" diamond. Wonder if this now famous sapphire will come to be known as the "Star of David"?
Rocks in the News
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