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Rockhounding in South Carolina might turn out to be among the most beautiful experiences for enthusiasts and gem hunters, particularly for those who share a love for amethyst.
The Diamond Hill in Antreville, Abbeville County, Cherokee County, York County, or the Cooper River in Berkeley County is among the best places to rockhound in South Carolina. Apart from amethyst, you can also find tourmaline, garnet, kyanite, fossils, quartz, gold, diamonds, geodes, and blue granite in the SC.
Various fossils are spread throughout South Carolina, and there are also plenty of digging sites where you can hunt for specimens for a small fee. With that being said, let’s exactly where to rockhound in South Carolina and what you can find!
If you are interested in checking out the best book about rockhounding in South Carolina you can find it by clicking here (Amazon link).
Best Rockhounding Locations in South Carolina
I won’t spoil all the fun by covering all the places, but I will mention a couple of them.
The best rockhounding locations in South Carolina are Donoho Creek Formation, Piedmont, Greenville County, York County, Spartanburg, and Cherokee counties, Abbeville, Anderson, McCormick, Lowndesville, Antreville, and Berkeley counties.
You can find the most precious, beautiful, and sought-after gems, minerals, crystals, and rocks, including rare specimens in these places. Here are some of the best spots for gem hunters finding themselves in South Carolina.
The county of Abbeville is situated in western South Carolina, and it is the most abundant region when it comes to amethyst. Here, you can also find beryl (aquamarine), garnets, kyanite, gold, epidote, smoky amethyst, and various quartz crystals.
Lowndesville and Antreville towns in the county of Abbeville are rich in amethyst, as well as the Ellis-Jones Mines in Due West or the famous Diamond Hill Mine east of Succession Lake in Antreville. Smoky quartz is also present in these areas.
In Abbeville, you can find beryl – the rare aquamarine variant, at the Beryl Hill area, the Amos Cunningham Farm. Close to Abbeville is Greenville, where you can discover tourmaline and high-quality garnets or kyanite.
York County is located in the northern parts of South Carolina, and it is also among the best rockhounding locations since here you can find amethyst, smoky amethyst, tourmaline, garnets, kyanite, quartz crystals, and more!
The largest deposit of the rare mineral kyanite is found in York County at Henry’s Knob. The earliest settlers in this region used to call these specimens blue daggers.
Located in northwestern South Carolina, Anderson County is another fantastic place for rockhounding. Here you can find amethyst, or another rare specimen, aquamarine, a type of beryl.
Garnets are also plentiful in this region, as well as the official state rock, blue granite, corundum crystals, topaz crystals, tourmaline, or crystals of zircon.
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):
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
Pay to Dig Sites in South Carolina
Some of the best places for rockhounding usually have pay-to-dig sites. These places often require a small fee that varies for children, adults, and veterans and enables people to go out gem hunting for a respective period of time.
When you go to such places, make sure to check their schedule, fees, rules, and equipment they recommend so that you can enjoy your time and be able to gather what you are searching for.
When it comes to South Carolina, the most famous pay-to-dig site is the Diamond Hill Mine, located in Abbeville County, east of Succession Lake in Antreville.
Here, you can dig for amethyst, smoky amethyst, and quartz; however, you have a limit on how much you can carry, no trailers are allowed, and night digging is prohibited.
You can find high-quality amethyst here, though, and if you want to learn more about their rules, fees, and recommended equipment, check out this link.
TIP: What do you like more, raw rocks or tumbled rocks? A lot of rockhounds would like to tumble their rocks but they do not know how expensive rock tumbling can be. That’s why I wrote the article about a complete cost breakdown of rock tumbling. Find out more in the article below:
Is Rock Tumbling Expensive? Complete Cost Breakdown
Minerals & Crystals Found in South Carolina
The state of South Carolina has its fair share of minerals and crystals, both rare and gorgeous. You can find gold, quartz, kyanite, possibly even diamonds, zircon, corundum, topaz, beryl, and more in this state.
In our table below, I have highlighted the most important specimens and where you can find them!
|Gold||Lancaster County, Chesterfield County, Abbeville County|
|Diamonds||Inner Piedmont, Kings Mountain Belt, near Limestone Springs|
|Quartz||Cherokee County, Oconee County, Spartanburg County|
|Kyanite||Greenville County, Henry’s Knob, York County|
Gold is relatively easy to find in South Carolina, primarily due to the Carolina Slate Belt, where plenty of known gold-producing areas are located. You can find gold in Lancaster County, Chesterfield County, and the Kings Mountain Belt that runs from Abbeville to McCormick, Cherokee, York counties, and Piedmont.
TIP: If you want to know more about gold prospecting in South Carolina, check out the complete guide in the article below:
Gold Prospecting in South Carolina: 7 Best Locations & Laws
Diamonds have been found in South Carolina near Limestone Springs, north of the junction of Union Road and Cherokee Ford, in Pickens District between West Union and Oconee Mountain, and in association with rocks of the Inner Piedmont belt and Kings Mountain belt.
When it comes to quartz, you can find highly valuable quartz crystals in the Diamond Hill Mine in Antreville, Abbeville County, or at the Greenville County, Henry’s Knob in York County, Donoho Creek Formations, Cherokee County, Oconee County, or Spartanburg County among many others.
Kyanite is a rare form of beryl that is easily found in South Carolina. The largest deposit of it in this state is located in York County, at Henry’s Knob. This specimen is apparently abundant in Greenville County as well.
TIP: Quartz is one of the most popular minerals among rockhounds. Did you know that quartz has a huge amount of its varieties? Check out the most common quartz varieties in the article below:
Complete List of Quartz Varieties: Know Them All!
Gemstones Found in South Carolina
Plenty of beautiful, rare, and precious gemstones can be found in South Carolina, such as amethyst, garnets, aquamarine, tourmaline, smoky amethyst, cat eye, sillimanite, and many others.
Check out the table below to see where you can find the most popular and precious gemstones in South Carolina.
|Amethyst||Abbeville County, Lowndesville Town, Anderson County|
|Garnet||York County, Abbeville County, Anderson County|
|Aquamarine||Amos Cunningham Farm, Beryl Hill, Anderson County, McCormick County|
|Tourmaline||Cherokee County, Greenville County, Spartanburg County|
Amethyst is the official state gemstone of South Carolina, and it is found predominantly throughout the state. The highest quality of amethyst, smoky amethyst, can be found in Antreville and Lowndesville towns, at the Ellis-Jones Mines, Diamond Hill Mine, or Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Oconee, and Spartanburg counties.
When it comes to garnets, South Carolina is filled with them in its north and central regions. You can find qualitative garnet specimens in places such as Greenville County, York County, Anderson County, or Abbeville County and their surrounding areas.
Aquamarine is another desirable gemstone that can be found in South Carolina. Though it is a rarer form of beryl, it can be found in plenty of places in this state, such as McCormick, Abbeville, or Anderson counties. A great location, in particular, to search for it is at the Amos Cunningham Farm situated on Beryl Hill in Abbeville.
Another great gem to hunt for in South Carolina is the beautiful tourmaline. You can find it in places such as Cherokee County, Greenville County, York County, or Spartanburg County, among many others.
TIP: The Internet is full of cheap gemstones. You can find there a lot of really cheap specimens. But how is that possible? Find out more in the article below:
Why Are Some Gemstones So Cheap? You Should Know This
Rocks Found in South Carolina
There are plenty of interesting, rare, and beautiful rocks to be found in South Carolina. Some of them include geodes, flint, chert, or the famous blue granite, which is also South Carolina’s official gemstone rock.
In the table below, you can find out the best locations in South Carolina where you can find them.
|Flint||Red Bluff Flint Quarries, Allendale County,|
|Chert||Anderson County, Allendale County, Poor Mountain Formation|
|Blue Granite||Piedmont Region, Midlands Region, Fairfield County|
Flint, or marine chert, is found throughout the state of South Carolina, especially in Allendale County, where the Red Bluff Flint Quarries are a historic archaeological site where these specimens have been collected. Long ago, the natives would use these rocks as raw materials for tools.
When it comes to blue granite, is the official state rock of South Carolina, and it is found in abundance in the Piedmont or the Midlands regions.
This rock was first mined in Fairfield County, Winnsboro town, at the Anderson granite quarry, in the 1800s. It is a rock predominantly used in the construction of monuments due to its durability and color.
TIP: Wet-looking rocks are beautiful, I really like that look. But do you know how to make the rocks look wet? Check out the simple ideas in the article below:
7 Simple Ideas: What to Put on Rocks to Make Them Look Wet
Where to Find Fossils in South Carolina?
You can find plenty of fossils and relics of the past in South Carolina, such as megalodon teeth, arrowheads, dinosaur fossils, mammoth fossils, and more.
Some of the most popular locations to find them include Cooper River, Berkeley County, Martin-Marietta limestone quarries, Myrtle Beach, Edisto Beach, Hunting Island Beach, and the Donoho Creek Formations.
Since the state of South Carolina was covered by water during the Paleozoic, Cambrian, and Cretaceous periods, the state is rich in marine fossils throughout the land. When it comes to arrowheads, they can be found near Lyle Creek, Catawba County, or the central Piedmont region.
South Carolina’s Beaches: Sea Glass & Shark Teeth
The beaches of South Carolina are rich in shark teeth, and you can even find sea glass, among other marine things. Shark teeth can be found on the majority of beaches in South Carolina.
The best places to find shark teeth and sea glass include Myrtle Beach State Park, Huntington Beach State Park, Pawleys Island, and Bull Island, among others.
The best period to find these specimens is when the tourist season is not all that hot. Some places require you to pay a small fee if you want to go out collecting things, so it is always best to call ahead of time and ask about the rules.
TIP: Did you know that you can use beach sand as a tumbling grit? Yes, sand is a good alternative as a tumbling grit in some cases. Find out more about using sand as a tumbling grit in the article below:
Can You Tumble Rocks with Sand? Everything You Need to Know
FAQ about Rockhounding in South Carolina
Still did not find the answer to your answers about rockhounding in South Carolina? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:
What is South Carolina’s State Rock?
The official state rock of South Carolina is the blue granite, also known as Winnsboro Blue.
It was designated as such in 1969, and it is a grey-colored igneous rock indigenous to the Midlands and the Piedmont regions of South Carolina. This specimen was first mined in the 1800s in Fairfield County, and it is often used in the building of monuments.
What is South Carolina’s State Gemstone?
Designated in 1969, the quartz amethyst is the official state gemstone of South Carolina. It comes in light or dark purple colors, being translucent, and some have six-sided crystal shape terminations.
High-quality amethyst can be found throughout the state, in regions such as Diamond Hill Mine in Abbeville County, Londesville town, or Anderson County.
What is the State Mineral of South Carolina?
Although South Carolina has a state gemstone, namely amethyst, and an official state rock, the blue granite, it currently doesn’t have an officially designated state mineral.
Several rare and beautiful minerals such as beryl, tourmaline, corundum, or sillimanite, among others, are found throughout the state, and one of them might one day be designated as the official state mineral of South Carolina.
What Is South Carolina’s State Fossil?
The official state fossil of South Carolina is the Columbian Mammoth 2014. The Columbian Mammoth lived during the Pleistocene epoch, and it was a hybrid species between steppe and woolly mammoths.
Fossils of this ancient animal have been found in South Carolina, especially at the Donoho Creek Formations, along with other samples of various dinosaurs.
The state of South Carolina is an excellent place for gem hunters, as it provides plenty of specimens of minerals, crystals, and gemstones.
Certain areas are restricted and prohibit collecting, while others require a fee, but overall, South Carolina is an excellent rockhounding state, where plenty of places are free of charge to explore and ponder.
TIP: And it’s rockhounding time now! But do you know what tools you need for rockhounding? Check out the list of all needed tools and equipment for rockhounding in the article below:
The Complete Guide: All Tools You Need for Rockhounding