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12 Gemstones You Can Find in Your Backyard Right Now

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While many gem collectors get their rocks from rockhounding shops, you would be surprised at how many gemstones you can find in your backyard. Gemstones are found more easily than most expect because they do not bother looking for them.

There are various kinds of gemstones that you may find in your backyard, depending on your geographical location. Quartz is one of the most common gemstones you can find and can be found in almost any location. Areas of the American West, such as California, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah, are some of the easiest places to find gemstones.

Gemstones You Can Find in Your Backyard
How to Find Gemstones in Your Backyard?

If you want to check out the best rockhounding tools, you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).

Quartz Is a Common Backyard Gem

Quartz crystals are very common rocks that can be found mixed in with regular gravel, often in people’s backyards.

The most popular type that you might spot is clear quartz. It looks like shiny, translucent gravel. Sometimes, clear quartz can also have cloudy white streaks inside that give it a foggy quality.

Clear quartz tends to form like a 6-sided prism but can also be an irregular rocky chunk.

Amethyst is a rare, more valuable type of purple quartz. Its bright violet color comes from mineral deposits and radiation exposure over time. While less likely to lie in your backyard, amethyst is inside some geodes.

So next time you sift through landscape rocks or gravel, see if any stand out as special quartz treasures! With a discerning eye, you might uncover natural gemstone riches in a most unexpected place.

Where Can You Find Quartz Crystals?

Keep searching your yard for clear or purple quartz glinting amongst regular rocks. But quartz deposits exist way beyond backyards, too!

Quartz crystals also turn up in driveways and gardens. Their natural dusty coating sometimes hides quartz’s see-through shine at first glance.

Brazil, Russia, the United States, and Madagascar have huge quartz mines. These mines produce giant crystal chunks weighing over 100 pounds! Herkimer diamonds” come from New York, while some Madagascar pockets contain rare purple amethyst geodes.

How to Tell the Quality of a Quartz Crystal

To test any backyard crystal, try gently scratching it with a knife tip. If the blade fails to mark the surface, it likely indicates durable quartz.

The highest quality quartz with perfect clarity sells for $10-$20 per crystal. Larger flawless specimens, or rare hues like amethyst, fetch higher prices from collectors and healing practitioners.

TIP: If you live near a beach, you can find quartz there! Read this article and find out how to find quartz on the beach:
Can You Find Quartz on the Beach? It Depends on How You Look

Amethysts May Show Up in Your Backyard Creek

The amethyst is one of the most valuable crystals in the quartz family, mainly due to its rich purple coloration. Amethyst isn’t the easiest gemstone in your backyard, but you might find it in certain conditions.

Where Can You Find Amethysts in Your Backyard?

These states are some of the most common states to come across raw amethyst as a rockhound:

Quick Tip: By clicking the links above, you will get a full guide on rocks and minerals and where to find them in each state. You can find similar links for different states throughout this article.

Amethyst is easiest for people to find in rock geodes in creeks, streams, and rivers. Rock geodes appear similar to normal rock but may have a more rounded appearance.

Upon geode cracking, a rockhound may find a hollow interior decked with amethyst crystals. Moreover, other crystals show up in geodes as well.

How to Tell if an Amethyst is Good Quality

The best amethysts are bright royal purple, not too light or dark. Dark stones look blackish except in direct light, while pale stones lose that vibrant purple punch.

The most stunning amethyst geodes show large purple crystals within their natural rocky shells. The crystals should be a rich violet, not dull or extremely pale.

Bigger is usually better, too. Larger amethyst pieces – whether crystals or whole geodes – attract higher prices and value as collector’s items or for display.

So, in judging amethyst appeal, keep an eye out for medium-toned violet coloration and larger-sized specimens preserved inside geodes whenever possible!

Agate -A Colorful Backyard Gem

Agate represents one of the most colorful and common backyard stones. A member of the quartz mineral family, agates have extensive lore and history.

Physical Traits

The most typical agate hue presents as a rich reddish or brownish-red. Nature crafts agates in a rainbow array of shades, though reds often dominate. Delicate bands, stripes, swirls, and eye-shaped circles emerge as hallmark agate markings. When held to sunlight, light radiates through the crystalline edges – showcasing agate’s signature translucence. Moss, tree, and lace-like shapes may also adorn certain beautifully adorned agates.

Geographic Origins

Agates were originally formed in ancient lava flows, bubbling with dissolved silica and minerals. As fiery lava cavities slowly cooled over millennia, colorful silica structures bloomed. Primary agate locations follow the veins of these primordial volcanic roots. Prime regions in the United States include Montana, Oregon, Washington, South Dakota, and California – or anywhere with igneous rocks and lava beds.

Discovery and Valuation Tips

Carefully inspect any multi-banded stones found in volcanic terrain. Quality keys on band vibrancy, transparency, and design intricacy. Larger pieces spanning 5 inches display artwork best. Strong, vivid colors and interesting patterns earn collectors’ favor – and higher valuations – as well. While always beloved, even plainer agates possess an earthy allure thanks to millions of years crafting underground beauty.

TIP: Do all agates have some value, or do certain agates have characteristics that make them better than the rest? Find out the answer in the article below:
Are Agates Valuable Rocks? The True Worth of Agates

Discovering Golden Topaz Treasures

Topaz stands out as a backyard gemstone bounty thanks to its signature golden yellow and brown hues. Often used in jewelry, this popular gem substitutes for pricier diamonds.

The western United States hosts plentiful topaz deposits, especially Utah – the state’s official gemstone. Additional topaz locales include Mexico, Texas, Asia, and Europe. Unlike manufactured topaz gems, naturally formed crystals emerge clear or faint in color.

While pure yellow specimens are most prized, topaz occurs across the color spectrum based on mineral exposures over time. Blue topaz results from irradiation, while imperial topaz exhibits a rich golden orange.

Natural topaz usually embeds deep within igneous rock flows or veins. But remnants still pepper many backyards if you know what to hunt for. We recommend you scan for translucent, yellowish crystals amid surface gravel, eroded rainfall, and underlying bedrock layers.

Let your adventures unfold aided by an explorer’s patience and watchful eye! You never know what dazzling gems might turn up in your backyard.

How do you tell the quality of a Topaz?

A topaz gem’s color primarily determines its market value and gem quality grading. While affordable, everyday golden yellow and brown topaz is widely available, certain rare natural colors prove exponentially more prized.

The top echelon belongs to scarce, reddish-pink topaz recently emerging in designer jewelry. Its rosy pink tones command prices up to 20 times higher per carat than common transparent or yellowish counterparts. Red topaz also outvalues golden varieties thanks to otherworldly scarcity.

So, when assessing backyard finds, prioritize specimens displaying rosy pinks and reds versus mundane brown. Transparency and clarity should also be maximized. Cloudiness, flaws, and opaque dullness detract appeal.

And take care not to mistake golden citrine quartz for typical golden topaz – despite the resemblance; topaz wins hands-down on monetary value and prestige.

Let your adventures unfold aided by an explorer’s patience and watchful eye. As with all gems, color makes all the difference, separating exciting windfalls from everyday quartz.

Opal -A Precious Backyard Treasure

Opal dazzles as one of the rarest backyard jewel finds. Their oval, smooth polish gives way to signature rainbow flashes. This colorful “fire” shines via optical effects within the stone. Silica and water fuse over eons to create opal’s one-of-a-kind recipe.

Stones may emerge opaque white or “milky.” But see-through varieties with vibrant rainbows earn the title “precious opal.” Even small gems command hefty sums from collectors when exhibiting this lively display.

Around 95% of Opals come from Australia. But Mexico, Brazil, and even Nevada host deposits too. Scan arid, rocky expanses near hot springs or old volcanoes. Opals need water to form, so frequent floods and rains help exposure.

Where Can You Find Opal in Your Backyard?

Most of the world’s opals are found in Australia, but can also be found in the United States. Here are some of the states where opal can be found:

Opals boast an immediately recognizable signature sparkle that catches the eye – if you frequent the right terrain. When hunting environments where opals concentrate, their standout rainbow fire proves relatively easy to spot compared to drabber stones. This same optical wow factor originally enchanted early European traders centuries ago.

Yet their dazzling colors only emerge in select backyard conditions. Arid regions near old volcanoes or hot springs offer the best bet, as opal relies on water to form. Australia dominates global production. But Nevada, Mexico, and Brazil also nurture deposits.

Once you narrow the hunting ground, opals’ hallmark rainbow sheen attracts notice against mundane landscape rocks. Just one visible fiery flash may lead to an exhilarating find! So target your search, then let patience and luck collide. With the right backdrop, opals shine bright for eagle-eyed explorers.

How do you tell the quality of an opial?

Finding Vibrant Opals

Great opals are like rainbow fireworks that flash wildly as the gem tilts and turns. Top-grade stones brilliantly reflect every color – intense reds, electrifying blues, blazing greens, and beyond.

The more an opal shows off as it moves, the better. Maximum color brightness and a full spectrum signpost an opal that’s a real knockout. Cloudier opals still have shimmers but look blurry or washed out comparatively.

Tiny fractures inside their silica and water layers act like a prism to throw off all that fiery color. Terrific transparency is key, too. The best stones should be crystal clear inside when illuminated.

Remember – jagged stripes of red or green still mark a great find. But a bonafide “rainbow in the rough” dazzles from every angle! So check for mega color flash anytime an interesting opal catch winks back at you while scanning the ground!

TIP: Cutting and polishing opals correctly brings beauty and exceptional color flash. Check out the step-by-step guide on how to cut and polish opals in the article below:
How to Cut & Polish Opals: Follow These 9 Simple Steps

Hunting Bright Green Peridot Gemstones

Don’t underestimate the understated sparkle of peridot stones! What this green jewel lacks in rarity, it makes up for in eye-catching vibrance. Ranging from olive to almost fluorescent lime hues, faceted peridot dazzles under both sun and artificial light.

While more common than emeralds or rubies, peridot still enjoys collector fame. Its signature green comes from the mineral olivine, forged in the fiery Earth’s mantle before volcanic eruptions carry it up to the crust.

So, where might backyard hunters spy these verdant gems? Scan dry, basalt-rich regions like Arizona, New Mexico, and Hawaii, where ancient lava flows gift the landscape. Peridot also frequents meteorite fragments, so check deserts after meteor showers!

Peridot may not break price records, but a neon pop of green still makes for an exhilarating score while combing the ground. You need some patience and a little luck on your side!

Where Can You Find Peridot in Your Backyard?

Peridot is usually found in small pieces and flakes rather than larger crystals. You might find larger peridots in some locations, but small peridots are more common.

These are the most common locations to find peridot in the United States:

Peridots can be difficult to find in the soil because of their small size, so wearing a loupe while examining the soil can help you notice their telltale green sparkle.

How to Tell the Quality of Peridot?

Peridot is judged by its coloration in quality—the more intense and purer the green color, the better the stone.

A brownish tone in the peridot is a fault, lowering the stone’s quality. Yellow-toned peridot is the most common type.

Obsidian Is a Fairly Common Backyard Gemstone

Obsidian has a glass-like texture that is usually black but can sometimes be green or brown. It is created when molten rock cools and creates a smooth stone.

Primitive people popularly used obsidian as a tool because of its sharp cutting edges. It is still used in modern operating rooms because it is sharper than stainless steel and can create a smoother cut.

Where Can You Find Obsidian in Your Backyard?

Obsidian is a relatively easy gemstone to notice in the ground due to its glossy, unnatural-looking surface. Obsidian can be found in a majority of the American West, including the following states:

How to Tell the Quality of Obsidian?

Obsidian is valued by its age rather than its looks since all obsidian has a similar dark, glossy black appearance. Obsidian is fragile because of its glass-like texture, so finding older pieces can be difficult. The rarest and most valuable obsidian forms are over a few million years old.

TIP: Using a Dremel is the most versatile way of cutting and polishing your obsidian, as it can be used for both parts of the process. Find out more in the article below:
How to Cut & Polish Obsidian: Follow These 7 Simple Steps

Garnet is a Widespread Red Gemstone

Garnet is a deep crimson crystal that is popularly used in jewelry. While red garnets are the most known color, these gemstones come in several other colors, including pink and yellow.

The name garnet is coined from Granatus, which means “seed-like.” The only color that garnets aren’t found in is the color blue.

Where Can You Find Garnets in Your Backyard?

Garnets can be found in the following American states:

How to Tell the Quality of a Garnet

It is difficult to judge the quality of a garnet just by looking at it since garnets can contain many impurities that dull and darken their colors. Higher-quality garnets are those with brighter colors and a more translucent coloration.

TIP: It’s challenging to differentiate between fake and real garnets without gemological equipment. Find out the main differences between real and fake garnets in the article below:
Real vs. Fake Garnet: Focus on These 6 Differences

Tourmaline Is a Rare Backyard Gemstone

Tourmaline is a gemstone usually found in black but can be found in almost any color, too.

These gemstones can display multiple colors that appear to change depending on the angle and lighting. Known as semiprecious stones, they are often used in jewelry such as bracelets and necklaces.

Where Can You Find Tourmaline in Your Backyard?

Tourmalines are most commonly found in California and Maine. Tourmalines easily mimic the appearance of many other types of gemstones, so a tourmaline has to be identified by a gemologist to be verified as a tourmaline.

The easiest way to identify a genuine tourmaline if you think you’ve found one in your backyard is by holding it up under artificial light. If the stone doesn’t change colors as you move it, it may indicate it is a genuine tourmaline. However, you’ll still need to confirm this with a professional.

How to Tell the Quality of Tourmaline

The rarest tourmaline you can find is neon blue or green with copper tones, so the brighter the color of the tourmaline, the higher the quality. The larger stones are more expensive, as is true with most gemstones.

The price of tourmaline can vary greatly, with some types being inexpensive and others costing thousands of dollars. High-quality tourmaline is usually only found in Brazil, however.

Malachite is a Semiprecious Gemstone You Can Find in Your Backyard

Malachite is a dark green semiprecious stone that is opaque in color, with rings and spots that form random and beautiful patterns over the surface. It is formed within limestone and is often used to make beads or carvings.

Where Can You Find Malachite in Your Backyard?

Malachite is an extremely common stone and can be found almost anywhere in the world. Here are the places where malachite can be found within the United States:

How to Tell the Quality of Malachite?

Malachite is a cheap stone that is often bought and sold in bulk. The quality of malachite is generally determined by the vibrancy of its color and how striking its spots and markings are. Since malachite pieces are usually one-of-a-kind, beauty is in the eye of the beholder with this stone.

Turquoise is recognized by its vibrant blue-green color, with webs of gleaming copper running through.

Natural turquoise will often be seen as a vein in the rock, almost like a river climbing through it. A natural turquoise will have webbing on it.

The best way to identify the turquoise is by running your nail over the rock until it hits the webbing. After that, you will need to consider the hardness of the material.

Where Can You Find Turquoise in Your Backyard?

Turquoise is the state gemstone of New Mexico, but it can be found in many American states. Here are some of the other states turquoise can also be found in:

Turquoise can also be found in many other countries worldwide, including Mexico, Egypt, Iran, and China.

How to Tell the Quality of Turquoise

Lander Blue turquoise is considered the highest-quality and rarest form of turquoise. Another turquoise considered high quality is any turquoise with an even and intense blue coloring.

Since it has been extensively mined, turquoise has only increased in rarity and is quickly becoming more valuable.

TIP: Turquoise is an extremely valuable gemstone and one of the oldest known to humanity. Find out more about turquoise value in the article below:
3 Key Factors of Turquoise Value: Is It Worth Any Money?

Jade Is an Ancient Gemstone That Can Be Found in Backyards

Jade is a cool green stone that combines nephrite and jadeite. In some cultures, such as China, jade is a prized gemstone considered representative of heaven.

For thousands of years, jade has been used for making various religious ornaments, including tools, sculptures, and talismans.

Jade is naturally a matte, dark, mint green color. Real jade should feel completely smooth and cold to the touch.

Where Can You Find Jade in Your Backyard?

In the United States, jade is usually found in the northwestern states, particularly the following states:

Jade can also be found outside the United States in Russia, China, and Guatemala.

How to Tell the Quality of Jade

Jade is one of the most valuable stones in the world, partially due to widespread demand across China. The highest quality jade has an intense coloration known as “Imperial jade.”

TIP: Jade is highly praised for its vivid green color but sometimes results from dyeing. Find out how to spot dyed jade in the article below:
Step-by-Step Guide: How to Tell & Identify if Jade is Dyed

What Other Cool Artifacts Can I Find in My Backyard Other Than Gemstones?

Gemstones aren’t the only treasure to find if you’re a rockhound looking around in your backyard. There are many other things you can potentially find, including the following:

  • Fossils

Several fossils can be uncovered in your backyard, from shark teeth to trilobites to stone imprints of animal tracks or plant leaves. While they aren’t gemstones, a home-caught fossil can be a great addition to any rockhound’s collection.

  • Arrowheads and other native artifacts

Another treasure you might find, depending on your geographical location, is flint or obsidian arrowheads, pottery shards, and other native artifacts.

Even if you don’t find any gemstones while searching your backyard, you can still find some neat things while digging.

BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):

What Supplies Do You Need to Find Gemstones in Your Backyard?

If you’re going looking for gemstones and other interesting rocks in your backyard, there are only a few pieces of equipment you’ll need to get started:

A shovel

A full-sized shovel is needed to get down deep enough into the topsoil that you have a decent chance of finding gemstones.

A trowel

A trowel is useful for finer digging work and can be used to define the edges of a hole or pry a larger rock out of the topsoil without damaging it.

A mining pan and a bowl of water

For sifting through rocky topsoil quickly, rolling loose gravel around in a mining pan and rinsing it with water can help reveal gemstones hidden among the gravel.

A soft microfiber cloth

A microfiber cloth can gently brush dirt and grit away from a rock to be examined more closely and identified.

A plastic container

An opaque plastic bucket or another container can be used to put keeper rocks in so they can be kept separate from throwaways with less risk of being lost in the grass. White is a good color since the stones contrast sharply, making them easier to find and pick.

Once you have this simple set of tools, you can look for some gemstones in your backyard.

TIP: We have all been there, realizing you are missing something less than 5 minutes after embarking on a mineral hunt. Check out the complete guide on all the tools you need for rockhounding:
The Complete Guide: All Tools You Need for Rockhounding

Where Else Can I Find Gemstones Other Than My Backyard?

While you can find some gemstone types in your backyard or even on your walk around the block, there are several other locations you can also find them.

These tend to be the more popular means of hunting gemstones because they’re much easier than finding them randomly in the yard.

Before choosing a method of seeking gemstones, the first thing to consider is what kind you’re looking for.

You can’t walk down to the river and expect to find a diamond sitting in it. You might have the chance to find a geode, but these hunts will require serious research before going out.

1. Fee Mining

This is a relatively popular method because you can dig in the mine and keep anything you find. Of course, you would need to pay to do so.

You can locate fee mines like this in almost every state in the United States, but the most popular areas for fee mining are on the West Coast, where natural gemstones are abundant.

Fee mining is also a great way to learn how to find gemstones on your own if you’re still a novice since there is typically a guide or other gemology expert on staff to help show you the ropes and what you should be looking for.

2. Opencast Mining

This can also be called open-pit mining. Opencast mining is the most common method because it is a surface mining technique that doesn’t require you to go underground to search.

People will often do this in areas that are no longer in use. A common location for this means of extracting gemstones is through abandoned rock quarries.

3. Oceanside Mining

This isn’t a common location, but like any body of water, it is possible to find precious gemstones in the ocean. One location known for underwater gemstones is Jade Cove Trail in Big Sur, California.

There are strict guidelines in these areas to avoid environmental damage, but if you see a gemstone in view, you are allowed to take it with you.

4. Mountain Prospecting

Various mountains are well-known for having gemstones, and these gemstones can often find their way into mountain creeks and streams where they can prospect.

This option does require some research to find the best locations that may work for the kind of stones or crystals you are trying to find.

Hunting for Gemstones in Your Backyard is Easy

Some gemstones, such as quartz, can be found almost anywhere in the world, but they can be easy to miss in their natural state. That means many people walk with gemstones at their feet without even knowing they are there.

You may need to travel to a different location for certain kinds of more uncommon gemstones to find them. But if you are willing to take a chance, you can start digging and potentially find rare gemstones in your backyard.

TIP: Are you looking for tips on what to buy for your loved, passionate rock seekers? Find out the best and not-so-common tips on gifts for rockhounds in the article below:
13 Best Gifts for Rockhounds You Should Buy