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“The best native gem mine in North America.”

Cherokee Ruby & Sapphire Mine
Ranked #5 of 38 things to do in Franklin
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Cherokee Ruby & Sapphire Mine is Macon County's ONLY 100% Unsalted Mine, located in the heart of the Beautiful Cowee Valley of North Carolina's Smoky Mountains.
Reviewed July 10, 2011

Cherokee ruby and sapphire mine is the only place in North America, open to the public, that allows you to search for rubies. The other gem mines in the area only contain sapphires. The stones found here are very pretty and usually whole, not broken. The owner, Maria, really cares for her customers and for her business. This fact is very evident as soon as you show up and are greeted. The mine is not as busy as Sheffield so this allows for more time with the associates identifying your gems. I found 4 different kinds of gems at this mine and only 1 at the Sheffield mine.

At the Cherokee mine, you can find Ruby, Sapphire, Sillimanite, Rutile, and moonstone. While I wasn't lucky enough to find any rubies, I found the others, and most of it was facet grade. The only con I noticed with this mine is their flumes are not covered, they do rent umbrellas for 1 dollar a day though. The sunlight generally helps in the identification of the gemstones. Overall the best gem mine in North America if you truly want to find gemstones native to North Carolina.

7  Thank GemCrazy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"an umbrella"
in 9 reviews
"bring sunscreen"
in 6 reviews
"mining experience"
in 14 reviews
"rent umbrellas"
in 3 reviews
"beautiful butterflies"
in 3 reviews
"wear a hat"
in 3 reviews
"new jersey"
in 4 reviews
"our recent visit"
in 2 reviews
"sun umbrellas"
in 2 reviews
"large umbrellas"
in 2 reviews
"foreign countries"
in 2 reviews
"suntan lotion"
in 2 reviews
"real experience"
in 3 reviews
"the owner"
in 11 reviews
"bring lunch"
in 3 reviews
"be patient"
in 4 reviews
"small gems"
in 3 reviews
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180 - 184 of 187 reviews

Reviewed June 25, 2011

We went to the Cherokee Ruby and Sapphire mine because it was within walking distance of our cabin. We had a great time gem mining, we thought it was very relaxing. Our 4 y/o nephew came along and he had a lot of fun.

We were surprised at how helpful the staff was. They had us put all of our sifted gravel into buckets and then when we were done, they went through them with us and found the gems we missed. We learned so much from them! The second time we came we were able to identify the gems easily and it made it even more fun.

We found a lot of gems, a good amount that were big enough to be cut and set. We also found a lot of rocks with garnets in them. When the rocks are tumbled they come out looking very pretty. My sister-in-law found a huge ruby, very, very pretty.

We definitely will return to the Cowee Valley to vacation and when we do we will be visiting the Cherokee Ruby and Sapphire Mine.

4  Thank Consumer205
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 3, 2011

This trip was our first to the gem mining region around Franklin. We sought a mine that did not "salt," or add, gems to the mix. Whatever we found was just as nature placed it.

The price was, we thought, very reasonable. For the price we got two buckets of dirt and gravel. Additional buckets were $2.50 each (price, as always, subject to change). We found gems of various sizes in each of the buckets. Admittedly, only the rutile was large enough for a decent gem, but we found a lot of very small garnets, a number of small sapphires, and several small moonstones. Only the rutiles were large enough to make jewelry, but finding these stones in a buckets dug from a river bottom is the fun.

The lady that ran the operation helped us identify our stones. We choose a day in May during the week when we expected fewer people so we did not have to compete for attention. I can see where it would be a challenge to help people when there are a lot of customers.

The lady that ran the place stayed until after 6 PM that day!!! We were so grateful for her time and efforts that we paid double for our extra buckets, and we thought the experience was worth every penny. If we have a chance to return, we will!

Other info:

There are limited snacks and drinks available, so you should bring your own.

It takes a lot of patience to wash and then look carefully through the gravel. I do not recommend this trip for small children and anyone without a lot of patience.

5  Thank lonholder
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 28, 2010

We absolutely enjoyed this stop and took home a few gem stones too!!!!

Thank 34328Dreamweaver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 6, 2010

I went to the mine and was surprised it was so small. Very nice lady running the place. You get two buckets, cushion to sit on, and a screen to sift your dirt. First bucket did not find anything but little pieces of garnet. Second bucket I found a small pink sapphire that was not big enough to cut and I found a rutile gem that was large enough to get cut into a 6ct stone. The lady running the place was very busy greeting people, but when she was finished she walked around looking at what people found and identifying the gems for them. I definitely recommend this stop.

4  Thank dcarey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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