North Carolina is known for its abundance of minerals and gemstones. Emeralds are among the many naturally occurring treasures in North Carolina. There are currently two emerald mines in North Carolina open to the public: the Crabtree Emerald Mine near Emerald Village, and Hiddenite Gems Emerald Hollow Mine in Hiddenite.
Crabtree Emerald Mine
Schedule Your Visit
Contact the Mountain Area Gem and Mineral Association to schedule a visit to the Crabtree Emerald Mine. After being granted permission you must print two copies of a release form from the website.
Release and Fees
Sign and mail in one copy to the M.A.G.M.A. Club along with your check or money order for the total of your fees. As of 2018, the Crabtree Emerald Mine charges $20 per adult per day.
Carry the Release
Sign and retain the second copy of the release form. You will need to carry this copy with you during your visit to the mine. According to the Crabtree Emerald Mine, if you do not have the release form with you at the mine you will be asked to leave the property.
Rules and Digging
Follow the rules of the mine. Use only hand tools and do not tunnel or dig into the walls of the mine. Basic items like a shovel, pick, hammer and chisel are all that you will need. A bucket can be used for hauling specimens out of the mine for further inspection. Any gems or minerals that you find are yours to keep.
Emerald Hollow Mine
Planning to Visit
Visit the Hiddenite Gems Emerald Hollow Mine. This is the only emerald mine in North America truly open to public prospectors.
Choose your prospecting method. The Emerald Hollow Mine offers visitors three different ways to search for emeralds. According to the Emerald Hollow Mine website, staff is available to help you identify any specimens you may find.
Sluicing for Minerals
Choose the sluicing method if you prefer to sit in relative comfort while searching for emeralds. For a $5 admission fee, prospectors can sit at the covered sluiceway and rinse buckets of ore to find minerals and other valuable gemstones. One bucket of ore is provided free with your sluicing permit. Additional buckets range from $2 to $100.
"Creeking" for Minerals
Go “creeking.” For an additional $3, you can use the sluiceway and mine the mineral-rich creek bed for emeralds. You can rent a creek screen and shovel for $1 plus a $5 refundable deposit.
Purchase a $15 combination permit to enjoy the full experience of gem mining in NC. With this permit you can sluice, creek and even dig in the designated areas of the mine. You can rent digging tools for $2 plus a $10 refundable deposit. All gems and minerals that you find are yours to keep.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Emerald Hollow Mines also has a complete lapidary shop that will cut your gemstones and even place them in jewelry for you.
The Crabtree Emerald Mine is patrolled but not supervised. Always use extreme caution when digging. It is best suited to prospectors with a little experience.
The Emerald Hollow Mine website recommends that you wear old clothes and shoes. You should plan on getting very dirty. Bring an extra change of clothes along with a towel, sunscreen and bug spray.