The “Gem Capital of the World”
Franklin, NC is known as the “Gem Capital of the World” for good reason. Gem mining in Franklin has a rich tradition, with native rubies and sapphires, both members of the corundum family, having been mined for years in the historic Cowee Valley.
A History of Gem Mining in Franklin
Franklin’s gem and mineral heritage can be traced back to 1870 when companies began mining corundum in Macon County. Second only to diamonds in hardness, corundum is used as an industrial abrasive. Commercial gem mining in NC stopped when synthetic corundum became a cheaper solution for industrial needs.
In 1895, New Jersey mining expert W. E. Hidden began supervising work on Cowee Valley lands and old claims that were newly purchased by the American Prospecting and Mining Company. The company intended to find the source of the rubies and sapphires by digging experimental shafts and test holes while gem mining in NC. The United States Mining Company and other mining interests performed similar testing. Despite these attempts, the source for the gemstones was never located.
Today, locals and visitors alike are still searching for the mother load of ruby and sapphire, and you’ll never have more fun getting dirty! Gem mining in Franklin NC is great fun for the entire family. A great tip is to wear old clothes when you go so you can get plenty dirty while looking for native gemstones.
Area mines offer advice and assistance in searching dirt for natural gems native to the Franklin area. Gem mining in NC is a true family friendly adventure!
Gem Mining in Franklin, From Stone To Jewelry
Many of your gem finds can be crafted into jewelry. In fact, many of the gem mines have experts on hand to recommend a cut for the stones you find. These gems can be mounted as rings, pendants or earrings.
If you’re lucky, you might find a rare star ruby or sapphire when gem mining in Franklin. These gems have a silky look to them and when cut in a dome shape or cabochon, a six-pointed star is revealed when light hits the stone.
Native & Enriched Gem Mining in Franklin
The Franklin NC area features both native (all natural mines) and enriched (gemstones added) gem mines.
» Download a Gem Mining Map (PDF Format)
Operating Season for Gem Mining in Franklin
Most gem mines operate from early Spring through late Fall. Book your family trip today for an unforgettable experience gem mining in NC.