Thursday, August 11, 2011

How to Find Minerals & Gems in Virginia


Talia Kennedy has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published in "The New York Times," the "San Francisco Chronicle," the "Oakland Tribune," the "Contra Costa Times" and "The Sacramento Bee." She has a Master of Journalism from the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
How to Find Minerals & Gems in Virginiathumbnail
Raw topaz gems can be found in rock in Virginia.

Finding raw minerals and gems in Virginia is possible, but it takes some preparation. The state has locations rich in garnet, topaz, columbite and other crystals; you just have to know where to look to find them. Whether you are an experienced gem hunter or a beginner, you should be able to find gems in Virginia's mines. If you are a beginner, studying the appearance of the gems you hope to find in their natural states will help you correctly identify them.



    • 1
      List the minerals and gems that you would like to collect. Virginia mines are known to contain topaz, garnet, columbite, phosphate minerals, zinnwaldite and amazonite, among other minerals and gems. Study photos of your gems and minerals of choice to help you identify them.
    • 2
      Travel to a mine that is known to contain the gems and minerals you seek. Morefield Mine, located 45 minutes west of Richmond in Amelia County, is rich with a wide variety of gems. The Great Falls area is known to contain gold. Be sure that you are going to a place that is known to have what you hope to find.
    • 3
      Bring essential equipment based on the weather and natural conditions that you will be working in. If you are entering mines, you will need headlamps and other safety equipment. If you will be panning for gold or other minerals and gems, waders will help keep you dry. You will need pans and strainers to pick up the matter that you will be examining for gems and minerals. Go to an outdoor-enthusiast store to purchase the equipment that you need.
    • 4
      Look in loose gravel, rocks, riverbed stones, limestone deposits and other areas where gems and minerals are known to be found. Examine each piece you pick up for signs of your chosen gems and minerals. Keep everything that you suspect is a gem or mineral. If you're not sure, have it appraised by a jeweler later.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always be sure that you have permission to access and mine the land you are on. Some land near the Great Falls is owned by the federal government and you have to pay a fee to mine, or mining may be prohibited. Ask before you enter and when in doubt, don't remove anything from the site to avoid receiving a citation or being levied a fine.


  • Cyberwell: Rock Collecting Sites in Virginia


  • Travel Channel: Cash and Treasures

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