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Rockhounding in South Carolina: Where to Go & What to Find

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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 are among the best places to rockhound in South Carolina. Apart from amethyst, you can also find tourmaline, garnet, kyanite, fossils, quartz, gold, diamonds, geodes, 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!

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Rockhounding in South Carolina: Where to Go & What to Find
Rockhounding in South Carolina: Where to Go & What to Find

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 most 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.

Abbeville County

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

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.

Anderson County

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 rocks and minerals identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):

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 from children, to adults, to veterans and enable 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 what 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 of 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 the 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. Is Rock Tumbling Expensive? Complete Cost BreakdownThe 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!

SpecimenLocation
GoldLancaster County, Chesterfield County, Abbeville County
DiamondsInner Piedmont, Kings Mountain Belt, near Limestone Springs
QuartzCherokee County, Oconee County, Spartanburg County
KyaniteGreenville County, Henry’s Knob, York County
Minerals & Crystals Found in South Carolina

Gold is relatively easy to find in South Carolina, primarily due to the Carolina Slate Belt, where plenty of known gold-producing areas is located. You can find gold in Lancaster County, Chesterfield County, the Kings Mountain Belt that runs from Abbeville to McCormick, Cherokee, and York counties, and Piedmont.

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 high 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

Quartz Amethyst: The Official State Gemstone of South Carolina
Quartz Amethyst: The Official State Gemstone of South Carolina

Plenty of beautiful, rare, and precious gemstones can be found in South Carolina, such as amethyst, garnets, aquamarine, tourmaline, smoky amethyst, cats 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.

SpecimenLocation
AmethystAbbeville County, Lowndesville Town, Anderson County
GarnetYork County, Abbeville County, Anderson County
AquamarineAmos Cunningham Farm, Beryl Hill, Anderson County, McCormick County
TourmalineCherokee County, Greenville County, Spartanburg County
Gemstones Found in South Carolina

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.

SpecimenLocation
FlintRed Bluff Flint Quarries, Allendale County, 
ChertAnderson County, Allendale County, Poor Mountain Formation
Blue GranitePiedmont Region, Midlands Region, Fairfield County
Rocks Found in South Carolina

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, it 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, or 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 regions.

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 of South Carolina.

The best places to find shark teeth and sea glass include Myrtle Beach State Park, Huntington Beach State Park, Pawleys Island, or 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?

South Carolina 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 since 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.

Conclusion

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