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How to Find Gems & Minerals

Gem and mineral hunting is a popular hobby across the country. Many rock and mineral clubs have field trips for people who enjoy finding new mineral samples for their collection. You can also hunt for gems and minerals on your own if you know a little about rocks types and the potential minerals in each. Researching popular gem and mineral hunting locations will prepare you for a successful and enjoyable day of collecting.

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Contact the state geological survey and local mineral clubs and request geologic maps of local outcrops, mines and river beds with public access. Evaluate the geologic maps to determine the types of rocks in the area and the potential minerals in the rocks.

Visit the outcrops, mines and river areas and examine the rocks at each location. Look for large grains and veins in the rock that may be indicative of gemstones and other mineral crystals. Use a compass and the maps to help navigate through the area.

Put on your safety glasses. Break a sample of the rock from exposed outcrops using a rock hammer. The mineral content of the rock is easier to see on the fresh side of the sample where weathering has not discoloured the rock surface. Use a hand magnifier to see smaller grains.

Examine loose rocks and soil in each area because minerals can weather out of rocks and create nearby deposits. Mineral crystals may also be present in the shallow, calm water of a river or stream bed. Use a sieve to separate mineral crystals from surrounding soil and sediment.

Compare the mineral samples to the identification information in the reference book to identify your specimens.

Tip

Contact local university geology departments and ask the professors for the names of popular gem hunting locations. Join an organised gem and mineral hunting field trip. Often, the leaders of these trips have access to locations that are not available to you on your own.

Warning

Many nice rock outcrops are located on private property. Ask permission to enter before you begin gem hunting. Never rock hunt alone. Take a friend with you for safety. Be careful if you wade into a river or stream. Wear safety glasses when you are using the rock hammer.

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Things You'll Need

  • Geologic maps
  • Compass
  • Safety glasses
  • Rock hammer
  • Hand magnifier
  • Sieve
  • Mineral identification book

About the Author

Tracy Barnhart is an earth science expert. A professional geologist with over 16 years of technical writing experience, she has expanded her writing skills to include instructional articles on business, parenting, finance and science. She has Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in geology from Furman University and the University of South Carolina.

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