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Rubies are among the rarest gemstones in the world, and finding them is no small task. However, in the U.S., you can find these precious gemstones in several locations.
Some U.S. states where you can find rubies as a rockhounding enthusiast include North Carolina, Georgia, and Montana, among many others. You can find rubies in stream gravels, stream beds, mines, dunite exposures, pegmatites, pits, or quarries, among other environments, but you must know what to look for.
Rubies don’t pop up anywhere; you must research your area beforehand. Let’s see precisely where rubies are commonly found and what are the best U.S. states to search for them!
If you want to check out the best rock and mineral identification books, you can find them here (Amazon link).
Where to Find Rubies Near Me (Most Common Environments)
Before heading out to search for rubies, it’s crucial to understand how they form. It takes millions of years for rubies to form under extreme heat conditions and pressures in the depths of the earth.
Most rubies are found in metamorphic rocks as they are a variety of mineral corundum. If you find corundum or the red gemstone spinet, you should dig deeper since you may also find rubies. Rubies are commonly found in gravels, stream beds, mines, quarries, dunite or pegmatite exposures, and pits.
Although rubies are primarily associated with a reddish color, they can also have a secondary violet, pink, purple, violet, or orange hue. Color and clarity are both essential factors that determine a ruby’s value. Let’s explore some typical environments where rubies are found!
Stream Gravels and Beds
Stream gravels and beds are among the best environments to find all sorts of gemstones, minerals, and rocks, including rubies.
This is because of their ability to capture these specimens as water currents travel for such long distances. Through different geological events, various things end up in the water or are exposed and, at some point, unearthed.
Mines and Quarries
Rubies form deep within the earth under rare circumstances; however, they are brought up occasionally, and miners find them. Mines and quarries operate under various depths under the surface depending on the conditions present, and the deeper they go, the more likely rubies will pop up.
Dunite and Pegmatite Exposures
Pegmatite exposures are naturally the best environment to find gemstones in general, but so are dunite exposures with a high concentration of igneous and metamorphic rocks. Apart from rubies, you can also find emeralds, aquamarine, garnets, or other gemstones and crystals in these environments.
TIP: Cleavage is one of the vital properties of minerals needed for mineral identification. Check out the complete guide in the article below:
Complete Guide: Testing Cleavage of a Mineral like a PRO
Where Can I Find Rubies in the USA? The Best Locations
Rubies are exceedingly rare worldwide; however, if you wish to find rubies in the U.S., there are a couple of states worth trying. No U.S. state has rubies as its official state gemstone, but there is a state far more abundant than others in rubies, which is North Carolina.
There are plenty of active ruby mines and rockhounding locations to seek these precious gemstones. But apart from North Carolina, some of the other best U.S. states to find rubies include Wyoming, Montana, Alabama, California, Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, Utah, Washington, and South Carolina.
|North Carolina||Montvale, Elijah Mountain Gem Mine, Cherokee Ruby, and Sapphire Mine|
|Wyoming||Split Rock, Graham Ranch, Tin Cup Mountain|
|Montana||Yogo Gulch, Pole Creek, Madison County|
Let’s explore some of the best U.S. states to find rubies and see precisely where you should go on your quest for this beautiful red gemstone!
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)
North Carolina is, without a doubt, the best U.S. state to find rubies. If not for the abundant emerald specimens, rubies might have been the second choice in the election of this state’s official state gemstone title.
Some of the best places to find rubies in North Carolina include Franklin, Corundum Hill, Elijah Mountain Gem Mine, or the Cherokee Ruby and Sapphire Mine.
Starting in the western regions of North Carolina, the Elijah Mountain Gem Mine is probably among the most famous locations in the world where rockhounds can fulfill their dreams of finding some of the rarest specimens in nature, and not just rubies.
You will also find sapphire, emerald, citrine, opals, topaz, aquamarine, and more here. Not too far from here, you can go to the Newfound Gap and search the area pegmatites for ruby specimens, or you can head to Cherokee Ruby and Sapphire Mine, where you must pay a small fee to collect sapphire and ruby specimens.
In Franklin, there are plenty of area mines and prospects where you can find rubies and other valuable rocks, minerals, gemstones, and crystals, definitely among the best towns for rockhounding enthusiasts in North Carolina.
At Corundum Hill, you can explore some excellent dunite exposures that often hide beautiful ruby specimens or olivine crystals. If you can visit Higdon Mountain, search the area to the south near U.S. 64 because you might also find rubies here.
At Cowee Creek, plenty of area mines can be explored for ruby specimens or even kyanites. Western North Carolina is the most abundant region regarding ruby findings.
However, the central part shouldn’t be ignored because there are places like stream gravels around Montvale where plenty of rubies were unearthed.
To get a glimpse of how abundant rubies are in North Carolina, consider only these mines in Macon County::
- Arnold Ruby Mine, Gibsons Ruby Mine, Bonanza Mine, Caler Creek Ruby Mine, Cherokee Mine, Cowee Ruby Mine, Rose Creek Mine, Jacobs Ruby Mine, Dale, and Demkos Mine,
- Gregory Ruby Mine, Holbrook Ruby Mine, Jones Mine, MASON Branch Mine, Mincey Mine, Sheffield Corundum Mine, Shuler Ruby Mine, West’s Mine, and Yukon Ruby Mine.
There are many other ruby mines in North Carolina apart from those in Macon County.
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in North Carolina, check out this article.
If you live or plan to visit Montana for rockhounding adventures and want to find rubies, you are lucky, as there are plenty of places worth checking out. In Western Montana, rubies, gold, and even sapphires are found in the gravels around Pole Creek.
In Central Montana, give the Yogo Gulch a shot! Here, there are plenty of area pegmatites and dikes worth exploring, and apart from rubies, you can also find gold and sapphire.
Granite County is generally a great region to explore to find rubies, particularly the Rock Creek Mining District. There are plenty of ruby mines here, but you should also visit the Judith Basin.
In Madison County, at the Alder Gulch Mining District, the Alder Gulch placers or Norris Deposit are both excellent locations where rubies were unearthed.
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in Montana, check out this article.
Georgia is another excellent U.S. state to find rubies. Starting in northwestern Georgia, you can find rubies in the gravels at Tallapoosa River. However, northeastern Georgia is where you should focus because this is where most rubies were discovered.
In the area streams and gravels of Cumming, you can find beautiful rubies, but if you want to visit mines and other prospects to find rubies, you should give Turkey Hill a shot.
You can find rubies at Trap Rock Grap, the area to the south, but you will also encounter other corundum varieties. Lastly, rubies and aquamarine specimens in White County are found in the regional stream gravels and placers.
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in Georgia, check out this article.
TIP: Rock tumbling is a rewarding hobby if you have patience. But where should you put your rock tumbler, and are they safe? Find out the answer in the article below:
Rock Tumblers: Where to Put Them & Proven Safety Tips
FAQ About Finding Rubies
Still did not find the answer to your questions about finding ruby minerals? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:
Are There Any Ruby Mines in the United States?
Plenty of ruby mines exist in the United States, particularly in North Carolina, where over a dozen are active. Some examples are the Cherokee Ruby and Sapphire Mine or the Elijah Mountain Gem Mine. Apart from this, you can also find ruby mines in Montana and Utah.
How Rare Is It to Find a Ruby?
There are about eleven states in the U.S. where rubies were discovered, yet even from a worldwide perspective; rubies are very rare and hard to find. This is because they form at great depths under rare and extreme conditions.
What Kind of Rocks Do You Find Rubies In?
Rubies are most commonly found in metamorphic rocks, gravels, and pegmatites, but you might also find them in igneous rocks because of how they form. Rubies form under extreme temperatures and pressure.
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For some people, finding diamonds is more accessible than finding rubies. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Remember that rubies are the reddish variant of the mineral corundum, and wherever corundum is present or the red gemstone spinel, you might also find rubies as well.
If you want to know whether you found a spinel or ruby, consider this: spinel is lighter and isn’t as hard as ruby.
Pure spinel specimens are colorless, but they can something come with the same reddish hue of ruby. Lastly, spinel gemstones have a cubic crystal structure, whereas rubies have a hexagonal crystal structure.
TIP: The most common situation all rock hunters and mineral collectors deal with is at-home mineral identification. Check out the ultimate guide in the article below:
Identifying Minerals and Rocks at Home (Step-by-Step Guide)