How to Hunt for Gems in Georgia

By Rhomylly Forbes

According to Gold n Gem Grubbin, a business in Cleveland, Georgia, that allows panning for gold and gems on the premises, more gold has been found in Georgia than was panned in California during the great Gold Rush of the 1800s.

Although gold is not a gem, there are also plenty of opportunities for finding precious and semi-precious gem stones, including rubies, topaz, amethyst and emeralds, in the Peach State, at Gold n Gem Grubbing or out on your own

Contact other enthusiasts. Georgia State University has a geology club, and Atlanta has a geological society. The members of these clubs are "rock hounds," too, and will know about the best sites in Georgia for gem hunting. Email or call the clubs for more information, and also ask if you have to be a member to accompany them on a gem hunting outing.

Create a gem hunting equipment kit. At minimum you will want a rock hammer (hammer with a single point on one side), a basic magnifying class for initial identification, a jeweler's loupe for a more detailed identification of your gem stones, a gem identifying book, and an assortment of small glass vials with caps to store your finds until you get them home. You will also need a backpack to carry your equipment in. Many of the sites favored by Georgia gem hunters are in the mountains, so be sure to add a sturdy pair of hiking boots to your gem-hunter's kit. Other basic hiking supplies like insect repellent and a bottle or two of water should be added to your kit.

Dig for stones. The best place to find gemstones in Georgia is in old mines, and not necessarily gem mines. There are old gold mines in Georgia if you feel like branching out from stones to precious metals, and you can find small gemstones in just about any old mine. Other Georgia enthusiasts will tell you where to go. Once you get there, take out your rock hammer and start digging. Once you think you've found a stone worth keeping, wash it off and give it a closer look with your magnifying glass and jeweler's loupe. Check with your gem identification book to see what specific stones look like "in the rough." If it still looks like a keeper, place it in one of your glass vials for safekeeping and keep digging. You never know what you will find next.

Tip

Pack extra water; you will need it to rinse mud or dirt off your gems.