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Where to Find Emerald: Best Environments & Locations (USA)

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Emeralds are, without a doubt, the most gorgeous greenish gemstones found in nature, which is unsurprising given that any emerald found now developed hundreds of millions of years ago.

To find emeralds in nature, you must look for them in gravels, mines, pegmatites, or creeks. Natural emeralds are difficult to find, so you should visit emerald mines for a guaranteed search. If you want to find emeralds in the USA, you can explore states like North Carolina or South Carolina.

Although finding a pure emerald might not be easy, you have a higher chance of finding it if you understand how it forms and where to look for it. Let’s see precisely how emeralds form in nature and what the best U.S. states are to find them!

Where to Find Emeralds Near Me
Where to Find Emeralds Near Me

If you want to check out the best rock and mineral identification books, you can find them here (Amazon link).

Where to Find Emeralds Near Me? (Most Common Environments)

Emeralds are a type of beryl, more specifically, their greenish variety due to the presence of chromium or vanadium, and in some instances, both. Emeralds are rare since their chemistry combines scarce elements located at different depths, resulting in few places where they form.

Emeralds usually come from pegmatite deposits or hydrothermal veins that are found in metamorphic settings.

In deposit veins, fluids that come out of lava and contain the right elements for emerald formation, like beryllium, cool down. This is when emeralds start to form.

The emerald formation in pegmatite rocks isn’t caused by hydrothermal fluids but by the magma itself.

The ingredients that make up the emerald formation stay put when it cools down and starts the formation process. Because of this, mines, gravel beds, pegmatites, and creeks are some of the best places to find emeralds.

Let’s look at some of these places and find out why emeralds are so popular there!


The safest bet to find emeralds in nature is visiting mines, especially those specializing in finding emeralds. Mines, unlike quarries, go deeper beneath the earth where there are higher chances of encountering deposits where emeralds form, such as pegmatites or other metamorphic rocks.

As mentioned above, the elements necessary to create emeralds are rare and found at different levels beneath the earth.

When these elements meet under the right conditions, they result in the formation of emeralds. Some mines, particularly near volcanic mountains, are generally more productive in finding emerald specimens.

Gravels, Pegmatites, or Creeks

Gravels, pegmatites, creeks, or areas where metamorphic rocks are exposed, such as outcrops or road cuts, are good places to search for emeralds.

Gravels and creeks can capture emeralds that may have formed elsewhere, and many specimens end up deposited in these environments, but generally, emeralds aren’t found along riverbanks.

At the same time, pegmatites are natural rocks in which emeralds form separately from other rocks. Therefore, road cuts or other sites that expose these rocks are likely also to include emeralds.

Of course, it is also heavily reliant on the region’s volcanic history and the necessary components. When hunting for emeralds, remember that they are frequently hidden in rocks with thin minerals known as mica schists.

TIP: Rockhounds have many mediums and environments to collect rocks, minerals, gemstones, or even fossils. Check out the differences between gravel pits, quarries, and mines in the article below:
Difference Between Gravel Pits, Quarries & Mines for Rockhounds

Where Can I Find Emerald in the USA? The Best Locations

Where to Find Emerald in the USA
Where to Find Emerald in the USA

While Colombia is responsible for about 70-90% of the world’s emerald production, it doesn’t mean you can’t find emeralds in nature if you are located elsewhere.

In the United States, there are a couple of states where emeralds are found, and one emerald discovered in 2019 in North Carolina at 310 uncut carats is among the most notable findings in the world.

The best states to start searching for them in the U.S. include North Carolina, South Carolina, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Montana, Nevada, Maine, Connecticut, Utah, and California. Apart from these states, there are no other confirmed emerald discoveries in other U.S. states.

North CarolinaEmerald Hollow Mine, Elijah Mountain Gem Mine, Burnsville, Crabtree Emerald Mine
CaliforniaSan Diego County, Julian, Trinity County
South CarolinaBowens River, Anderson County, Cherokee County
MassachusetsLily Pond
Where to Find Emerald in the USA

Let’s explore some of these states and see exactly where you can find emeralds!

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):

North Carolina

North Carolina is, without a doubt, the best state in the U.S. to find emeralds. One of the most notable specimens in the world, nicknamed the Carolina Emperor, was discovered in 2009. It had 310 carats uncut but reached 64.8 carats in its cut version, which is still huge.

North Carolina is also the only U.S. state that has designated emerald as its official state gemstone. This happened in 1973. The western areas of North Carolina are the most fantastic places to begin your quest for emeralds, as there have been several confirmed finds here.

Probably one of the most famous mines in North Carolina and the U.S., in general, is the Emerald Hollow Mine. Here, you can find high-quality emerald specimens.

If you are near Hiddenite, search the area of gravel and soils to find emeralds. Apart from the gravel and soils, it would help if you also visited the Hiddenite old mines, as emeralds were also found there.

The Elijah Mountain Gem Mine is another famous North Carolina location where you are guaranteed to find beautiful emerald specimens. At the Stice Shoal Lake Dam, the area to the northeast, you can find emerald specimens as well.

Another great location is the Crabtree Emerald Mine in Emerald Village. Apart from these areas, you can also find emerald specimens at the many area mines around Burnsville.

There were also some emerald findings in Ashe and Avery counties, but you can also visit Burkey County and go to Joel Walker Beryl Prospect to see emeralds.

In Clay County, emeralds were discovered at Buck Creek, namely at the Buck Creek Mine, also known as Cullakenee Mine. You can find emeralds in Cleveland County at Gaffney, Kings Mountain Mining District, the Turner Mine in Lawndale, or the Plantation Emerald Mine in Shelby.

In Gaston County, emerald was discovered at the Bridges Arnold Beryl prospect, and some findings were confirmed in Graham and Jackson counties. Mitchell County is another lucky spot where emeralds were unearthed at the Grassy Creek Mine and Grindstaff Mine.

In general, if you live or decide to visit North Carolina hoping to find an emerald, focus on the western and central parts of the state, don’t skip the mines, and always check the rockhounding laws if allowed to collect or need a permit.

TIP: Check out this article for a complete rockhounding guide in North Carolina.

South Carolina

South Carolina isn’t as famous for its emerald locations as North Carolina, but there are some places that you can visit to try your chances. For example, Anderson County and Cherokee County are famous places where emeralds were discovered. 

In the northwestern parts of South Carolina, you can visit the Bowens River to find emeralds, but don’t neglect its tributaries.

Search for emeralds in the gravels and slate exposures. You might also find sapphire, quartz crystals, topaz, zircon, and amethyst, among many other things.

TIP: Check out this article for a complete rockhounding guide in South Carolina.


California is another famous state for emeralds, but nowhere near the same level as North Carolina. You can find emeralds in the Julian Mining District in San Diego County at Julian. It is among Southern California’s most recent emerald localities (2020)

Apart from these areas, there is also Trinity County. In Trinity County, emeralds were discovered in the Klamath Mountains, especially in the Coffee Mining District (Coffee Creek Mining District) or J. Carr’s Mine.

Though these areas might not permit collectors to perform their activities, it’s always worth trying and asking if there is any possibility of searching for emeralds in the region.

TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in California, check out this article.

Other Notable Emerald State Mentions

For an extended period, you could find emeralds in Maine in Sagadahoc County at Topsham. Sadly, this is no longer the case, but the area is still worth checking out.

In Montana, you might find emeralds in Mineral County, at the Coffee Pot Lode Occurrence, or in the general region since other emerald occurrences were reported.

In Nevada, you can find emeralds in Pershing County. Here, go to Rye Patch Mining District at the Oreana Tungsten Mine, also known as the Little Tungsten Mine. New Mexico is also worth considering when it comes to finding emeralds.

In New Mexico, many emeralds were discovered in Taos County. In the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is the Makarah Outcrop, where various emeralds were unearthed.

If you live in Massachusetts or plan on visiting it, you might be able to find emeralds in Hampshire County as well. Here, visit Lily Pond and search the pegmatite dike to the north.

Generally, emeralds aren’t easy to find, and many areas aren’t necessarily reported to the public. Because of this, there might be emerald locations even in your state, regardless of whether it was mentioned here or not. 

The best way to find out is to go gem hunting in the above environments and try your luck or join a rockhounding club. Rockhounding clubs have an excellent advantage for enthusiasts.

Their members usually have various gem-finding areas to which you might also be entitled if you join the club. You never know what you might discover about your state and its valuable hidden rock-hounding locations until you ask!

TIP: Emerald is a vivid green variety of beryl. Do you know the main differences between emerald and beryl? Find out the answer in the article below:
Beryl vs. Emerald: 7 Key Differences (Are They The Same?)

FAQ About Finding Emerald

I still have not found the answer to your questions about finding emeralds. Find frequently asked questions in the section below:

Where Can Emerald be Found Naturally?

Emeralds can be discovered in creeks or gravels as they might have been deposited there in time. Mines are undoubtedly the best option for finding emeralds in nature as they reach deep within the earth where emeralds form.

Metamorphic rocks like pegmatites are also worth checking out for emeralds. Search for them in road cuts or outcrops as well.

What is the Easiest Way to Find Emeralds?

The easiest way to find emeralds is by visiting local mines that produce them and allowing collectors to search.

Go to mines near you that make emeralds and let buyers look around. This is the best way to find them.

You can also go to natural places where emeralds grow or join a rockhounding club to get to places other people can’t.

How Deep Do You Have to Dig to Find Emerald?

Emeralds form deep within the earth, but in open pit mines or terrace mining, they are unearthed at about 12 meters deep / 39 feet. Water often reveals mineral-bearing rocks as emeralds are embedded within them. 

Where is the Best Place to Dig for Emeralds?

The only emerald mine that people can visit and look for stones is the Emerald Hollow Mine in Hiddenite, North Carolina. Mineral hunters can even dill and dig to find emeralds and other rocks here.

Are There Emerald Mines in the USA?

Emerald mines are just as rare as emeralds themselves. Although the U.S. doesn’t come near its emerald mines like Colombia, a few emerald mines are still active.

Probably the most famous emerald mines in the U.S. are the ones located in North Carolina, namely the Emerald Hollow Mine, Crabtree Emerald Mine, Elijah Mountain Gem Mine, Addams Hiddenite and Emerald Mine, Emerald Valley Mine, or the Plantation Emerald Mine, also known as the Old Plantation Mine or Turner Mine.

There are several other mines in the United States where emeralds are produced. However, those mines aren’t solely focused on emeralds but on minerals and gemstones. Nonetheless, the United States emerald production isn’t making the world’s top lists.

BTW: If you are looking for the best UV light for rockhounding, find out my picks below (Amazon links):


Due to their rarity, discovering emeralds in nature is comparable to discovering diamonds. The feeling of pleasure and satisfaction that occurs when one is discovered with one’s own hands is unmatched.

If you are interested in discovering emeralds in the United States, it is important to take the above methods and locations into account. You should not give up easily, as you never know what you may uncover. Good success in your pursuit of gems!

TIP: Rocks are one of the most popular items that people will pick up or purchase from places across the globe. Check out the rules on fighting with your rocks in the article below:
Are You Able To Bring Rocks On An Airplane? You Can But…