Monday, July 5, 2010

Red, White & Blue....Sapphires?

Yep, I went sapphire mining this weekend! On our sunny Saturday I drove up with some friends to Gem Mountain, about an hour and a half from home. At Gem Mountain you can sift through mine gravel to uncover all sorts of sapphires, in a range of colors. You start by purchasing a bucket of dirt. They then hand you a screen, some tweezers and point you in the direction of the water trough. You're instructed to put your dirt-covered screen in the water and shake side to side. Sapphires are twice the density of the other gravel so they'll sink to the bottom of your pile. After the rocks are clean, you head back to your exam table, flip your screen over, and start picking through the pile.

Sapphires in the rough look like little pieces of glass. And at Gem Mountain they can be itty bitty or huge. It's like being in a casino. All of a sudden a lady two tables away yells "Eureka!" and everyone runs to look at the huge "jackpot" of a stone she's found. It's very addicting, just like gambling. (I half expected someone to bring me a cocktail!) Most of the stones are a greenish-blue but I did have luck finding some yellow ones. They come in all colors of the rainbow! When you've finally finished with your whole bucket, (or your 10th bucket like some) you can take your finds to some of the experts they have on staff who will look them over. The cuttable stones are weighed and they offer to ship them to be faceted for you. Most of mine were cracked, but I did end up with a good blue one at .62 carats. :)

Finding sapphires is very rewarding and I can see myself returning to Gem Mountain many times in the future. The cast of characters that are drawn to it are fun to watch too. Folks from all walks converge over small piles of rubble; grins on their faces and death-grips on tweezers, hoping, hoping, and hoping. What a wonderful (and amusing) day in the mountains!


  1. What a fun day you had! I remember looking for saphires when I first moved to Montana in 74. Such fun and I just know I have a little film container filled with them in one of my many boxes. LYS

  2. Wow - this does sound like fun! Looks like you had a good day for it too! :)


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