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“Authentic mining and very nice and helpful owner”

Cherokee Ruby & Sapphire Mine
Ranked #5 of 36 things to do in Franklin
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
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 3, 2013

We visited this mine on July 2 driving about 1 1/2 hours to get there from the Sapphire Valley/Cashiers area. It was well worth the drive - but don't follow your GPS - follow the directions on the mine's web site. Our GPS led us to some gated community off of Hwy 23. Once we got back into the town of Franklin, we found our way to the mine which is just a short drive out of town. We arrived and got our briefing from the owner who helped us all day along with her son. As other reviews say, this mine does not "salt" their dirt - so what you find will be authentic native gems. You do have to sort through your stones carefully to find something of value which can be easy to miss. However, after you sort through your gravel, you put it all in an empty bucket and then the owner or her son go through it again looking for anything you might have missed. We did miss a couple sapphires and other things which they salvaged for us. They were supposed to close at 4 PM, but we didn't end up leaving until after 5 since we got a late start.
The owner is a very nice lady who talks much like a teacher telling us all about each type of stone and how some of the ones we had weren't really gemstones but how they could still polish up nicely if we wanted to use them for something. She had been friends with the previous owners of the mine for years and learned from them how to identify the stones. She took a lot of time with my daughters going over several types of stones and showing them what to look for.
At the end of the day, the owner said she had been mining a little earlier in the day and brought out her bottle of gems to show us. After she poured them all out to show my daughters, she told them they could have them all!! This was a real treat. We spent a lot of time talking to the owner about the history of the mine and her love for mining as well as the history of the area.
I don't have any basis for comparison of this mine versus others, but I can tell you our experience was 100% positive and we'd recommend this mine any time. You do need to be patient as it takes a whole to sort through your dirt, but you may just find something nice. The cost was fairly small - $15 each which included two buckets of dirt for each person. We thought we would end up buying more dirt, but it took us about an hour per bucket to go through our dirt so we didn't end up buying any more.

7  Thank adjuster-jd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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161 - 165 of 186 reviews

Reviewed June 30, 2013

We found a lot of different gems, the service was excellent and he answered all our questions about what gems we found.

2  Thank Julie M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 15, 2013

Cherokee was our first mine & a great experience with Maria. She is such a sweet lady and will sit with you and teach you about the gems and rocks that you come across.

She has umbrellas and pads for the flumes. The water in the flumes was clear and cold. We took our own pair of gloves, which was helpful.

It's a good idea to pack some drinks & snacks as well.

This is a non salted mine. Reading reviews from home, I thought what would be the big deal about a salted mine, but I completely understand now. Salted mines basically hand you a bucket of dirt with a bunch of gems that they have purchased and mixed into local soil. When you come from a place like Cherokee, only finding natural gems/rocks (small and hard to come across) to some of the salted mines, where you pull huge pieces of gemstone...it feels like a tourist trap.

So, if you want to find huge gems, just go to a gift store and buy yourself some specimens. If you want to find naturally placed gems, go to Cherokee. Salted mines are fast gratification; good for kids.

We were happy to have met Maria and thankful for her heartfelt knowledge about the gems.

6  Thank Stephanie R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 22, 2012

Went here as a kid, but still remember it. Wonderful for kids to explore and learn about gems and where they are from. Fantastic memories of my father and I searching for rubies.

1  Thank Sliver2907
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 6, 2012 via mobile

The good:

1 price- great value, $15 per person includes all your basics. Namely, 2 buckets of dirt, screens, and a pad to sit on. You can buy extra gear but this is all you really need.

2 service- simply outstanding! The little old lady that runs the place is amazing. She'll tell you everything you need to know about the gems and will even go through all your rocks herself to make sure you didn't miss anything.

The bad:

Look at the pictures. That wooden bench and trough of water is it. That and a dirt parking lot is the sum total of the place. No snacks or drinks not even a place for them nearby. The mine is basically a wide spot in a very lonely road.

2 time. This isn't a quick thing. It takes some hours to really sort this stuff. Which is great if your into it. If your not, its looking at rocks for couple hours.

3 the haul- its unsalted. You may get something great but you may end up with Jack. That of course is subjective. I didn't see any one leave empty handed but if you come with your heart set on rubies and all you come up with is a few scrawny garnets or moonstones you may feel dissatisfied.

My take:
I loved it. Didn't get a whole lot a few garnets one moonstone, rodimite and some silimite. Still me and my four year old had a ball.

4  Thank thundercat982
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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