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Foggy Mountain Gem Mine

Life In Texas: Foggy Mountain Gem Mine

Monday, June 25, 2012

Foggy Mountain Gem Mine

     Recently, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to drive from New York City to San Antonio, TX with my little sister and one of her friends. While we were on this adventure, we stopped at a few fun places. One of these places was Foggy Mountain Gem Mine in Boone, North Carolina.

     Just looking at the outside of the building, some people may be hesitant. However, this is one time when you really shouldn't judge a book by its cover. We were there on Mother's Day (and the day after Appalachian State University's graduation), so it was pretty busy. We had to wait a few minutes before we could start mining. While we waited, this little guy kept us entertained.

     For those of you that have never been gem mining, it's pretty simple. You pick the size bucket you want. Foggy Mountain Gem Mine offers six different sizes ranging from 1 gallon to a wheelbarrow. We got the motherlode, which is a metal washtub. It is full of rocks, gems and dirt. They give you the bucket and a garden spade.

     You put a scoop in your sluice box and then set it in the flume-line to wash the dirt away. For those of you that don't speak prospector, scoop the dirt into the wooden box thing and put it in the water.

     You'll move the box side to side in the water until all of the dirt is gone.

     Then, you pick up the gems and put them in the "keep" pile (Megan and Julie were so excited that I kept making them stop to take pictures). All of the rocks that aren't worth anything go into a "trash" bucket. They told us "when in doubt, leave it out". We were worried that we would miss something good, so we kept a lot out.

     The bucket on the left is the rocks. All of the baggies are gems. Once you're finished, one of their nice employees will sort through your trash bucket to make sure that you didn't miss any gems.

     These are the gems that we had missed. The employee that dug through it said that he'd never seen anyone miss so few gems with that size bucket. Yay us!

     Next, they take your gems and line them up on the counter. They sort them so that all of the like gems are together.

     Then, they tell you what each gem is and show you how they look cut. They will cut and set any of them gems that you find. They ship them to you and they arrive in about 3 weeks. How much it costs depends on the stone and setting.

     I had red jasper set in a sterling silver pendant. It arrived quickly, looks amazing, and when people ask about it, it's an awesome story. If you choose not to have any cut, they put all of the gems that will make the best cuts in a separate bag for you. Then, you can mail it back later and they'll cut it.

     If you're not able to make it to Boone and you still want to try gem mining, you can order a Gem Mining Kit-to-Go and mine at home.

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