North Carolina Collecting Sites

Be sure and check the Carolina Geological Society's List and Sources of CGS Guidebooks and Miscellaneous Publications if you're looking for collecting site info for North Carolina.

Pressley Mine in North Carolina

Source: Deborah C., Fri, 3 Aug 2001

Hi Just wanted to add a little positive experience to the area on the Pressley Mine in Canton NC. For anyone digging there please take your own tools. An elderly lady, whom has always been very gracious, operates the mine. I always go up in the mountains and dig my own dirt. On one trip a novice collector was sifted through dirt in a wash out area and found a beautiful corn silk sky blue sapphire the size of his palm. Absolutely beautiful and one of the rarest colors for that locality. It takes work digging there but it is absolutely not salted junk like some of the mines.

Emerald Hollow Mine just in Hiddenite, North Carolina

Hiddenite, Epodite, Unicite, Obsidian, Blue Calcite and an occasional small Ruby or Sapphire

Source: Ron Ackerman 7-12-98

We just visited the Emerald Hollow in Hiddenite, N.C. July 8, 1998. As we pulled down the long lane we noticed a bus from one of the local schools. (I suspect a class field trip) While looking for a place to park we saw several small shacks one was where you sign-in and pay the others were a Lapidary and restrooms. At first impressions we didn't think much of it, but decided to take our chances, we were not disappointed.

For sluicing only cost was $5.00 per person which includes a complimentary bucket of dirt. Most of which had Hiddenite, Epodite, Unicite, Obsidian, Blue Calcite, etc. and an occasional small Ruby or Sapphire. Additional buckets ranged from $1.50 to $100.00. We elected to go for the Ruby and Sapphire buckets at $5.00 each. For Digging and or Creekin' the charge was $7.00 per person unlimited. Didn't feel like doing this much work while on vacation. For a combo Sluicing and Creekin' it was $10.00 per person.

Out of our complementary buckets we found mostly the minerals. The kids loved them however out of the Ruby/Sapphire buckets we found quite a few good sized Rubies and Sapphires.

This mine was recommended by a local resident of Salisbury N.C. Now I don't know if this mine is salted or un-salted, but our findings for the short time we were there seem to be substantial and most importantly we all had a nice time.

I believe that this mine might be one of the best kept secrets of North Carolina. They have a small pond with ducks and other wildlife. The sluices were in very nice condition and did not leak and their staff seemed to be very knowledgeable. And there was room for quite a lot of miners at the sluice. We did not visit the creek. I also noticed that while we were there I only saw North Carolina license plates.

I was not impressed with the Lapidary and elected not to get any stones cut. He might be very good but we didn't like our first impression. There was also a 6 to 8 week backlog for cutting.

If you have any questions you may contact me by email . I do have pictures and will put them up on my web site.

Old Pressley Sapphire Mine just north of Canton, North Carolina


Source: Michael H. Jackson 8-14-97

Went today for a long day trip to the Old Pressley Sapphire Mine just north of Canton, North Carolina. In short, DON'T BOTHER! One of the more disappointing trips I've ever made to a mine. This was our first time at Pressley. We called a day ahead to make sure of the directions and rates etc., We were told that the fees would be $5.00 per person and .50 per bucket if we wanted to use the already filled buckets, or $10.00 per day if we wanted to dig our own. When we arrived, the sign said the same but the lady said they didn't fill the buckets anymore, but they only charged the $5.00, .50 per bucket deal.

The flume was barely wide enough to accommodate the rectangular boxes with the wire mesh bottoms. Some of the sifters were not usable because the wire was too high in the box for the water to touch, but that was mostly because the water flowing in the flume was barely adequate. We asked for a greater flow and was told no can do. The water itself was being pumped out of a small mud hole just a few feet in diameter, it was nasty. Many of the screens had hole in them and about half the shovels were broken. I can handle not finding much if the place is well taken care of, but the people who run this place obviously don't care enough to keep it well maintained.

The "keepers" they had displayed in the shack near the flume were nothing to brag about. The only reason we stayed was that we had driven almost four hours and had a limited amount of time, too limited to go on to better kept places. Sorry to be so not positive, but this one really isn't worth the effort for anyone thinking of trying it.

Jacobs Ruby Mine near Franklin, North Carolina

Notice: According to a September 2001 message from Bob Brudecki, the Jacobs Ruby Mine collecting site is no longer open. It was divided into 2 acre lots and sold for private use.

Ruby, Sapphire, Silimanite, Rhodolite Garnet (light pinkish purple), Quartz, Rutile and Mica

Source: Bob and Shirley Brudecki of Rochester, N.Y. 7-10-97

My wife Shirley and I have been going to the Jacobs Ruby Mine for about 5 yrs. Our first visits were nothing special until the mine changed hands. The latest owners are Arthur and Connie Biggers. They bought the mine about 2 years ago. The Biggers decided that the mine should remain unsalted and non-enriched. This assures everybody that only natural North Carolina Ruby and Sapphire is mined. Arthur and Connie believe that the customer should get the most from a bucket of dirt, so they screen out large stones that are often found at most of the natural mines. You actually get more material volume to find Ruby and Sapphire. They also keep the buckets covered so they do not fill up with water and become mud cakes. New wood and materials were purchased to improve the flume and eliminate leaks.

We have gone through hundreds of buckets at the flume and still get excited at finding rubies. I can not remember when we have not found at least one good quality ruby or several sapphires in a bucket. I remember going to another mine and going through eleven buckets to find one cabochon quality ruby.

We usually spend a week at the mine. To keep things interesting we also buy scoops of concentrate. Arthur fills a Bobcat front loaded with material he has dug up and piled along his parking lot. Then dumps the load onto a 4"x4" screen. After the large boulders are removed the load is again lifted and placed in a homemade tumbler and washing separator that Arthur designed and made. The smaller gravel 1/2" and less is caught in another screen then washed to remove any dirt. The concentrate is shoveled into 5 gallon buckets. You can get between 2 and 2-1/2 buckets from this process. It sure saves time and work for us. We usually do about 5 scoops per visit. You can watch Arthur and even help him. You are the only person who sees the material and what you see you get. I have not seen any other mine offer this.

The Rubies are a combination of cab and facet rough. Facet rough is usually less than a carat, but we've seen larger finished stones that were found and cut by other miners. We have had a dozen rubies cut that finished at 25 to 65 points and are clear and pigeon blood in color. They truly are equal in quality to Burma stones. We have cab rough that is 3 carats as well. We saw a lady pull out a 9 carat ruby and know a man who found a 20 plus carat stone. The Sapphire we found ranges from pink to lavender and blue. The blues are absolutely beautiful although small.

We were just at the mine on June 25th and the prices were:
Flume $6 per day
Bucket 50 cents each
Scoop $50

Other Stuff:
Amongst the corundum are silimanite, rhodolite garnet (light pinkish purple), quartz, rutile & mica.

New Material:
Arthur just excavated new material on July 5th. He said he hit a 5 foot gravel bed. That means the rubies and sapphires should be larger and more plentiful. You can contact them at for more information at their Jacobs Ruby Mine web page or email to Arthur Biggers, .

The Mason Mine in North Carolina


Source: Rocks-and-Fossils Gopher Server

The Mason Mine (not to be confused with Mason Mountain Mine) is near the Sheffield Mine in NC and I have had very good results there. Sapphires are plentiful there and one of the best features is that you pay one fee ($10 I think) for the whole day. You also get to dig the material yourself rather than buying buckets each time. Last year, they had a real strike when some groups dug into very rich vien dirt. I heard that people were finding hundreds of xls/day until a heavy rain collapsed the hole they were working. The material is still there for anyone lucky enough to dig into it.

Chunky Gal Mountain near Franklin, North Carolina

Sapphires, Pink and White Corrundum, Smaragdite

Source: Rockhounds Mailing List 6/5/95
Tom Hay˙

I have collected some in that area and there are a lot of saphires to be found. Just east and south of Franklin, there are numerous creeks that you can find some nice saphires. Most are grey and cloudy but some show some nice clarity. Look on the Nat. F. Map of the area and look for Buck Creek. Anywhere near Chunky Gal Mt. The zoisite/ ruby digging area on Chunky Gal Mt. is now closed from what I hear. Too many people digging without any respect for the erosion they were causing. That's what happens when people go overboard with digging and not having any respect for rules and regulations. If we don't treat the digging areas and landowners with respect we will see alot more areas closed to collecting. I have recently heard that the National Forrest folks are starting to crack down on any digging in the National Forrest and you can get some stiff fines for digging and "causing erosion". I don't know for sure, I haven't been down there for over a year. I suspect that if you do some judicious panning you won't have any trouble.

I have heard of some success in finding saphires in creeks. Just don't dig up large holes in the banks and silt up the creeks. Dig up and pan the gravel just downstream of large rocks and boulders. The water down there is COLD! Be prepared! Saphires are quite dense and like gold and diamonds, will settle out in a sluice or pan. That's why they collect below boulders, they are quite heavy and as soon as the water velocity drops, like behind a rock, they will drop out of the water and settle. You can also find a lot of rhodinite garnets. Some are large but most about the size of a grain of rice. The Saphires can get quite large. Take something you can test the hardness of them as they will look like pieces of quartzite, but they will be heavier. I would use an old garnet or something that is harder than quartz but not as hard as saphires. That way, if you find something that will scratch it, you can be sure it is not quartzite. They will also not be as worn as the other creek gravels and may have several xtl faces still evident. I saw some people that had found some and they were as large as my thumb but most are smaller.

The gold belt comes up through NC just east of Highlands and Cashiers. One can pan for gold on creeks near there. The sceniery east of Highlands is very impressive like Yosimite Park with big granite exposures and mountains. Nice. Highlands is a bedroom community of some of the larger cities around there and as such is expensive and rich, Nice houses and quaint shops but the people are definitly not geared toward rockhounds. There can be a lot of saphires in the creeks south and east of there.

Good luck and post the results of your collecting. Check w/ the Nat. Forrest folks in Franklin for rules and regulations before you collect. There is a nice book published or sold by the Smithsonian people that is called Gem Trails in the Appalacians (?). It is a good book with lots of locations in NC and Northern Ga. but you won't find them if you do not have topo maps to coordinate the directions.˙


PS There are several areas you can find stauralite in North GA. Ask some of the locals for "Fairy Crosses" There is an antique shop on US 64 near Shooting Creek. They told us of of a stauralite location just over in GA. They are in a log cabin type building and the shop next door sells boiled peanuts (don't waste your money on them! Yuucchh!!) on the north side of a four lane section of the road. We found some nice crosses and specimens at that location.˙

Update on Chunky Gal Mountain

Source: Yvonne W. Collins 6/9/97

Some are unsure if they can still dig in Chunky Gal. The group I am with, Henderson County Gem and Mineral Society, were in there in October of 1996. Digging is still good.

We found smaragdite, and pink and white corundum.

I live in the area and as far as my information goes, there are no problems. You can still go there. It is a really good collection spot.

Cowie Valley "Bucket of Gravel Places" in North Carolina

Garnets, Sapphires

Source: Rockhounds Mailing List 6/5/95

Just a couple more cents worth on this one.... In addition to what has already been posted on this subject, don't rule out the Cowee Valley "bucket of gravel" places. After much searching and not finding very much in other areas of N.C., I stopped in at one of them and in a couple of hours of screening, found 2 sapphires, 1 with o.k. color and a bunch of small garnets. At least I came home with something! Just avoid the "salted" mines. You might find anything from amythyst to India rubies and they are required to state whether they salt or not. Very beutiful country. Have fun!

Spruce Pine in North Carolina


Source: Rocks-and-Fossils Mailing List 6/12/95

Check out Spruce Pine, NC. It's about 60 miles east of Franklin off of hwy 40 go north. They have mica and other minerals in that area as well as a mineral museum.

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