It has been posited that North Carolina has every gem mineral and over 300 gem species, but diamond. We have Amethyst, Aquamarine, Corundum, (Sapphires and Rubies) Emeralds, Garnet and Hiddenite, in our mountains.
"North Carolina is one of the more notable states in this country for its variety of gems and gem minerals that have been found and mined within its borders."
Joseph Hyde Pratt, 1932;
North Carolina State Geologist 1906-1924
Tiffany & Co. once owned and operated gem mines in Western North Carolina. They mined for amethyst and emerald. Like many of the older gem mines, they have since closed, and because they are on private properties ,they are not open to the public
The most recent addition to the Treasure of the Old North State, is The Mountain Star Ruby Collection: This fabulous and rare collection is going to auction at Guernsey's in June. There is a humble story behind this extremely rare collection. Click on the picture to see the auction information.
"Consisting of four extraordinary star rubies – each with an exquisite star* and collectively weighing in at 342 carats – experts have described the Mountain Star Ruby Collection as possibly the finest in the world. (*The Smoky Mountain Two Star Ruby, as its name suggests, has distinctive stars on both front and back.) Volumes could easily be written about the remarkable discovery by a modest mountain man from western North Carolina who, as a self-described "rock hound," was constantly in search of rare and unusual stones in his native Appalachia. Star rubies, such as the fabled Rajaratna Star Ruby in Bangalore, are the rarest form of ruby and have been coveted for centuries. Most often discovered in areas of Burma and Sri Lanka, the Mountain Star Ruby Collection is all the more astounding for its North American origin.
Following their discovery in 1990, the four stones were examined by the leading gemological testing labs in the U.S. and Europe prior to an exhibition of the 139 carat Appalachian Star at the Natural History Museum, London where a record audience of 150,000 people viewed the ruby over a two week period. Shortly thereafter, the gentleman who found the stones passed away and the Collection was returned to his family where it has quietly resided ever since.
The acclaim that the Appalachian Star and its companion stones have received from both gemologists and connoisseurs speaks clearly of the quality of North Carolina’s gem resources and the significance of the Mountain Star Ruby Collection."*
If you live in, or near North Carolina, head for the hills for a treasure hunting adventure. Tour Western North Carolina for corundum, (sapphires and rubies) and garnet. Then head toward the middle of the state along the Beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway and stop in Spruce Pine at the Museum of North Carolina Minerals. There, the 300 different minerals species found in North Carolina are showcased, including Spruce Pine Quartz. Where would we be without North Carolina Quartz? Read on to see how important this gem mineral is to the computer and electronics industry.
Because of its extreme purity, quartz from the Spruce Pine district is used in the manufacture of computer chips. In fact, no other quartz in the world can match the processed quartz purity from this area, and as a result, EVERY computer chip in the world uses Spruce Pine quartz in its manufacturing process.
Take your time in Spruce Pine and in the next Blog we will explore another North Carolina Treasure Hunt.