I love rocks. I’m a sucker for a pretty stone. I pick them up on hikes, at the beach, in parking lots… If it catches my eye I will check it out and often slip it into my pocket.
I have little collections of rocks from
Washington, New Mexico,
South Dakota, Arizona
and the Crater of Diamonds Diamond Mine in . Pretty much anywhere I’ve been. Pretty
little things that caught my fancy. Arkansas
Imagine my excitement when Rick agreed to detour off the
Blue Ridge Parkway
on our recent trip, to visit a mine - somewhere I could hunt for gems. I could
barely contain myself.
We decided on the Emerald Village near Little Switzerland in
because it was only a short detour off of our planned route, but there are a
number of mines in this part of the state. At some you can dig – at others you
‘pan’ for the gemstones, much like panning for gold. North Carolina
|One of the mine entrances at Emerald Village|
|$1000 barrel and $500 barrel|
Once you purchase your bucket you find a spot at the sluice and have at it, scooping small amounts of dirty rocks into your ‘sluice box’ – a wooden frame with a wire mesh bottom. The water constantly runs down the sluice to wash the dirt away, leaving you to find the red or green or purple bits to pick out. Raw gemstones often look very different from the polished end product, so it helps to know what to look for.
|Panning for gems with a $10 bucket of rocks|
|Emeralds, Garnets and Topaz. Oh my! |
Some of the stones found at Emerald Village
Crater of Diamonds photos courtesy Arkansas State
If you’re more interested in the polished version of stones, the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art in
is a marvelous place to visit.
The museum houses an extensive jade collection, dioramas of stone carvings,
portraits that look like paintings but made of stone using a technique called
“commesso di pietra dura” (the joining together of hard stone) – an art form
that has been practiced in Florence, Italy for hundreds of years. They also have some special, temporary exhibits and there is a very well done educational display
of rocks and minerals downstairs. Elmhurst,
|Inside the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art|
|Portrait of Joseph Lizzadro - it's made of stone!|
Chicago, the Grainger Hall of Gems in the Field Museum of Natural History holds a stunning
collection of cut and uncut stones. A walk through is an educational as well as
a visual delight. If you’re a rock hound try not to miss this gem of a gallery
on your next visit to the museum.
I hope I get the chance to go gem hunting again sometime. And I’d like to hunt for some geodes. Oh and I just found out the other day about a place not far from here where you can go hunt for fossils. Sounds like my kind of fun!
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