(TMU) — Gem and crystal collectors love nothing more than mining for their own treasures and North America has plenty of public mines to go digging. If you’re planning a trip to the South Carolina area, or just passing through, consider adding an extra day or two to your trip, if time permits, for a mining adventure that might have you heading home with some stunning gems and crystals.
The Diamond Hill Mine in Abbeville is one of South Carolina’s primary crystal mines with six acres of land open to the public to dig for crystals. Just about a two and a half hour drive from Atlanta, and you can even camp overnight for free.
The Appalachian Mountains are some of the oldest mountains in the world.
Over millions of years, erosion to the southern part of the range exposed an area of about three acres which contained the biggest variety of quartz crystals in the world, called Diamond Hill. Some of the best Amethyst, Smoky and Clear Quarts, Skeletal (Elestial), Angle Plated, Iron and Manganese Oxide coated, Aura, and other crystals as well as minerals such as Beryl, Garnet, and Epidote have been found there.
The public digging site is open every day of the year and visitors pay just $20 to dig for a full day (from 9 am until sunset) and whatever is found is yours to keep! Everything on the digging site came from the mine with nothing added. To make your trip worthwhile, you’ll need to take your own supplies such as food, water, and tools like a shovel, a rake, a long screwdriver, a rock hammer, a sledgehammer, a pick, strong durable gloves, and containers to put your treasures in.
You don’t need to make a booking for a day’s dig, just sign-in between 9am and 2pm. However you will need to call or email ahead of time if you’d like to stay overnight. There are several spots available to set up camp and hook-ups for RV’s are available at no additional charge.
Once the bug has bitten, you may want to explore other areas for treasures. Bear in mind that many of these areas are off the beaten track and you’ll need supplies to last the duration of your stay.
Here’s a few destinations to wet your appetite:
The Emerald Hollow Mine located in Hiddenite, North Carolina is the only public prospecting destination for emeralds in the United States. The area is often referred to as one of the most unique geological locations in North America. There’s no need to go digging for gems at the Emerald Hollow Mine, instead, you pick up your bucket from one of three sluiceways that comes directly from Hiddenite’s emerald mine. Your bucket might contain emeralds as well as amethyst, topaz, and aquamarine gems.
The Hiddenite Family Campground has partnered with Emerald Hollow Mine to provide accommodation to visitors who will be able to hike and explore the surrounding areas.
The Crater of Diamonds Park State Park located in Murfeesboro, Arkansas is the only public place in the world where you are allowed to dig for diamonds. You can rent tools or bring your own. Other than diamonds, you can also discover over 40 different types of rocks, minerals, and other interesting finds. Crater of Diamonds State Park also offer camping facilities, nature hikes, and fishing.
The Royal Peacock Mine in Virgin Valley, Nevada has some of the most beautiful black fire opals in North America. Depending on your budget, you can choose to dig within the bank area with the highest concentration of fire opals at a cost of $190 a day, or for $75 a day you can dig the mine’s dumps and tailings instead. The Royal Peacock Mine is only open from May 15 to October 15 every year. They have a fully-loaded RV park and additional lodging, so book early and stock up on supplies as the nearest store is 100 miles away.