Franklin, North Carolina is known as the Gem Capital of the World due to the high-quality minerals and gemstones that are found in the area, including rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, which have been mined there for over 100 years. The town has become a hub for gem mining, cutting, and trading, attracting gem enthusiasts and jewelry makers from around the world.

Gem mine open water flume mason mountain mine franklin

Separate your gems from the dirt using a mesh screen box and water in a flume. Photo by Mason Mountain Mine

Gem mining is a simple but enjoyable activity you can do on your Smoky Mountain vacation. In simplest of terms, you purchase a bucket of dirt that has been removed from a real local mine. There is usually a covered area where water rushes through a wooden flume. You have a seat and are provided a box with a metal mesh screen. Pour some of your dirt from the bucket into the box. Then place the box, screen down, into the water inside the flume. Lift and slightly twist the box containing the dirt under the stream until all the dirt is gone and only the gems and rocks remain. Look for rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and other minerals. Then you can have the gems identified by the local mine professionals on site.

Here is a list of gem mine activities:

  • Gemstone mining: extracting minerals and gems from the many gem mines in the area. See a list of local gem mines below.
  • Gem cutting and polishing: shaping and polishing the extracted gems to enhance their beauty
  • Gem trading: buying and selling gemstones to gem enthusiasts, jewelry makers, and retailers. There are a couple of gem shops in Franklin and at the mines where you can purchase gems.
  • Gemstone identification and grading: Experts at the gem mines will evaluate and classify the gems you find based on their quality and value
  • Gemstone jewelry making: some of the mines you can visit can use the mined and cut gems to create jewelry pieces
  • Gemstone exhibitions and events: showcasing the gems and gem-related products, and hosting gem-related activities and workshops. There are multiple large gem sales events each year in Franklin.

Here is a list of gem mines in and around Franklin, NC:

  • Mason Mountain Mine & Cowee Gift Shop
  • Old Cardinal Gem Mine
  • Rose Creek Mine
  • Gem & Mineral Museum-Franklin
  • Cherokee Ruby & Sapphire Mine
  • Mason’s Ruby & Sapphire Mine
  • Gold City Gem Mine
  • Gem City Mine
  • Ruby City Gems & Minerals
  • Ruby Mine Franklin NC
  • Shuler Mine
  • Cowee Mountain Ruby Mine
  • Sheffield Gem Mine

Here is a list of gem museums in and around Franklin, NC:

  • Gem & Mineral Museum of Franklin, NC
  • Ruby City Gem & Minerals

There are so many great things to do in and around Franklin, NC. You can explore the Gem Capital of the World by mining for your own gemstones or visiting one of the two gem museums.

If you are thinking about making this beautiful mountain town your home, please give us a call. We would love to help you build your custom mountain home!

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