Does gem mining near Greenville sound like a fun adventure? While technically there are no places nearby where you can go mining for diamonds, there are lots of native gems that are just as beautiful and can be found not too far from the Upstate.
We aren’t talking about the kind of gem mining where you are handed a bucket and sit down at a sluice. If that’s the kind of fun you are looking for, you need search no further than Greenville Gemstone Mine in Haywood Mall, which is a fun experience.
Here, we’re talking about getting out in Mother Nature, getting dirty, and digging through mine piles for gemstones.
What To Expect When Gem Mining
I’ll warn you, this is not an activity for the non-adventurous. There will be dirt. Lots, and lots of dirt. However, there will be lots of fun, and memories. Throw a tarp down in the car for the way home and just be prepared to deal with the dirt. Did I mention there would be dirt?
Aside from being prepared to deal with the dirt, you just need to have some tools to bring along. Most of them you’ll have at home already. If this is your first time doing this, I don’t think you should run out and buy anything.
Things you’ll need to bring:
- Big buckets, the kind sold at the hardware store.
- A steel bristle brush, last years grill cleaning brush if you still have it
- A shovel, any and all sizes will help you
- A long flat head screwdriver
- A Hammer
- Garden Gloves
- Sunscreen, food & plenty of water to drink!
- Closed shoes or boots, that you don’t mind getting very dirty. This is not a flip flop appropriate activity.
My son was only three the first time I took him gem mining. He had a blast. I was not prepared to deal with all the dirt, which I’m sure you’ve gathered by now. But once you know what to expect, you’ll be good to go.
Gem Mining in South Carolina
Diamond Mine Road, Abbeville | 864.934.3744
Rates: Adult (18 and over) $20, Teen (13-17) $10, Senior (65+) $10, Child (12 & under) $5, 6 & under are free
- Re-opened May 1st for digging only / Camping not permitted
- BYO tools and buckets
- Masks to be worn in the parking lot
Diamond Hill Mine is very rustic. It’s private property that is fenced in, with dump piles from a mine. There are places to primitive camp and portable toilets. Aside from that, it’s just you, the dirt, and the hope of finding some beautiful uncut gemstones. It’s tiring work, but it’s not complicated. We left with two buckets full of promising finds the first time we went.
North Carolina Gem Mines
North Carolina is known for being a native sapphire, ruby and opal gemstone source. In the 1890’s Tiffany’s & Co. purchased the entire Cowee Valley to mine gemstones for their jewelry. While North Carolina is no longer a huge source of commercial gems, there are still plenty of gems to be found by visitors to local mines.
331 McKinney Mine Road, Spruce Pine | 828.765.6463
Rates: $20 per day digging permit
- Re-opening on May 15th
- BYO tools or rents for $25 ( $100 – $75 deposit)
- The Emerald Village mine is a little easier for young children. My young kids had fun on our trip to The Bon Ami Mine.
484 Emerald Hollow Mine Dr, Hiddenite | 828. 635.1126
Rates: Sluicing, Creeking & Digging Combination Permit-
Adult (12 & over) – $30, Child (4 – 11) $10
- BYO tools or rent a shovel and a bucket for $7
5315 Bryson City Road, Franklin | 828.524.4570
Rates: All Day Dig (9 am-5 pm ) – $40, 4 Hour Dig – $30
- Re-opened on May 8th
- Visitors use a flume next to the mine pile to sift for native gems.
- Visit the Mine’s website for special events
6961 Upper Burningtown Road, Franklin | 828.369.9742
Rates: Adult (18 and over) $35, Teen (12-17) $35, Child (11 & under) $15, 5 & under are free
- Re-opening on May 19th
- The mine provides guests with all the tools you’ll need, except for gloves.
- They also have space for primitive camping, changing rooms & a flume to sort out and wash your finds.
115 Terrace Ridge Drive, Franklin | 828-349-3774
Dig-Your-Own from the mining tunnel: 2 for $10, all refills $5 (10 refills for $45). Minor miners, 8 & under can help adults
- Re-opened May 8th
- All equipment is provided and they help beginners.
- You dig your own dirt in a mining tunnel and then wash the finds in their covered flume.
Just remember that the dirt will wash away, but the memories you create will last forever!
Have you gone digging for gems at a mine?