Spent a lovely day off with my co-workers at the Hiddenite Gem Mines sluicing and digging for gemstones.
Because we had such a big group, we opted to do a group tour, which included a background history talk, sluicing, creeking and surface collecting.
We started off with the sluicing, where we were all given a bucket of gem rich ore to screen, brush and sluice. I didn't find much in my bucket, and was a little bit disappointed. But my friend Beth who sat next to me kept coming up with gemstones in hers. "LOOK! I found a sapphire!" she exclaimed. "I found a rose quartz!" I comforted myself by telling myself that the buckets were rigged, and it really was luck of the draw who got the better bucket. (haha sour grapes)
Anyway, the guide took us "creeking" next, where we got to step into the cool waters and dig around the riverbed for gems. This is when you can really tell that it's rigged. Although the guide told us the gems were often buried in the riverbed because of density and gravity, i was happily picking gems by the dozen off the surface of the riverbed. Do you really think i'd believe water erosion exposed all that to me??? I guess this was my favorite part of the tour because I found gems of all different shapes and colors by the end. I had some beautiful bright blue and green ones, lots of purple quartz, amethyst and smoky quartz.
Our last stop was surface collecting. Now if this isn't rigged then i don't know what is. The guide specifically said no digging. But we didn't have to. We could see gems strewn all around the ground as far as the eye could see. It's really more like an easter egg hunt, without hunting too strenuously.
That was the end of the tour, but we were allowed to go back to a different part of the river to do more creeking. I guess the part of the river we went to was sectioned off for group tours, read: completely rigged. The other parts of the river that we were at afterwards yielded very little gems. BUT, skeptical as i sound, i really enjoyed the whole trip. And my favorite was definitely creeking because i got to splash around in the cool stream and stay out in the sun!
Here are my spoils for the day!
And if you're in the area and want to check it out for yourself, go to:
Hiddenite Gems, Inc.
484 Emerald Hollow Mine Drive
Hiddenite, NC 28636