Sunday, August 19, 2012

Minecraft for Dummies-Jay Mines for Emeralds in NC

Jay, becoming bored with game-world emeralds, developed a hankering for the genuine article. So he put on his real-world geology hat and did a little digging in the reference books. According to the experts, most of the world's finest emeralds are found in Colombia, with others from India, South Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, Zimbabwe, and North Carolina. What?!

Jay registers at mine office

That's right, the Old North State is the only place in North America where gem quality emeralds are regularly found. And, as luck would have it, Jay lives in North Carolina!

Old mine "craft" at the Crabtree Emerald Mine

The North Carolina mountains are full of wonderful, tourist-oriented gem mines which offer "salted" buckets of ore for sifting, but Jay wasn't interested in any more "pretend" mining. No, he wanted to find a real emerald mine.

Mining for the "green"

In a rare and ancient text, published circa 2005, Jay discovered a reference to the Crabtree Emerald Mine, located somewhere high in the mountainous region of Mitchell County.

Once owned by the world-famous jewelers at Tiffany & Co., the mine followed a vein of gem-rich pegmatite hundreds of feet below the surface.

Sifting the ore for emeralds

What's this?!

Since it opened in the late 19th Century, it has yielded thousands of carats of high quality emeralds, with the legendary 1400+ carat "Lineberger Emerald"being discovered as recently as the late 1970's.

After a period of inactivity, the mine is now open to anyone with the wherewithal to find it, the strength to wield a rock hammer, and the gumption to fight the gnats, mosquitoes and occasional ravenous opossum.

For a first-timer, Jay made out pretty good this trip. Quite a bit of green, and not a single Creeper!

Emeralds in matrix with tourmaline 

More of the green stuff!

Emeralds and yellow beryl crystals

Cool tourmaline crystals

Spotted Jewel Weed Surrounding the Mine


  1. Wow I didn't know North Carolina has emeralds and I didn't know they could be panned like gold. In California I saw lots of folks panning for gold. Great to see Jay found some pieces with emerald in them.

    1. He's sifting through the waste dumps of material from the mine. Apparently the waste dumps are 30-40 feet deep in places; accumulations from over 100 years of mining. Jay was thrilled with the results!

  2. That is so neat. Way to go, Jay!