How to Mine Gems

Updated April 17, 2017

Gems are minerals that usually have high value due to their extraordinary radiance and colour. There are several destinations worldwide with mines containing gems. Among the most sought after gems are gold, diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds. Gem mining is not only a profession but is also an entertaining and relaxing activity.

Insert several shovelfuls of dirt into your screen. Some mines sell gem dirt and do not allow visitors to dig their own while others designate spots at which visitors may dig.

Immerse the screen into a trough of running water or flume to separate the gems from the dirt. Remove large rocks, roots and debris from the soil so you can identify stones more clearly. Swirl the screen containing the water and gem dirt solution around a couple of times to wash out water, excess soil and any remaining sediment that is not useful to you. Repeat the process until the excess residue washes out.

Brush off under running water the dirt deposits from the stones that remain on your screen. Work slowly with a soft-bristled brush until you are left with only rocks on your screen.

Inspect the gem stones you have found and tally the results with the identification handout provided to you by the mine's management. This will provide a guide to colour, clarity and crystals. Gemstones exist in every colour of the spectrum. For example, rubies can range from a deep mauve to red. Similarly, emeralds can come in a variety of shades that range from green to turquoise. This helps determine whether the stones you found are gems.

Place your specimens in a plastic bag and have a gemologist examine them to determine their quality.


Most mines sell gem dirt or require individuals to purchase a ticket for the day. Some mines are known for particular gems. Mines in India, for example, are known for ruby deposits. If you are a professional miner, decide before hand what kind of stones you want mine and research your destination accordingly. Dress casually as you are in for a dirty job. You will likely be mining outdoors so bring sun block and insect repellent, and wear a hat and gloves.

Things You'll Need

  • Mesh screen
  • Trough
  • Soft-bristled brush
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About the Author

Sheharyar Khan has been writing professionally since 2004 with articles appearing in various print and online sources, including Empowered Doctor and Disney's "Family Fun." Khan holds a Bachelor of Science in engineering with a major in textiles from Philadelphia University.