Where to Find Gemstones

Gemstones and precious stones are used in making jewelry, but they are fun to keep in their own right. You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars at a fine jeweler to find gemstones; many crystals and pretty rocks can be found outside if you know where to look. Synthetic gemstones are also used in industrial machines, so you can purchase fake gems through small parts suppliers. Here is a list of non-so-obvious places where you can find precious rocks and crystals for less money.

Things you may need to polish and drill holes in gemstones:

rock polisher

Dremel kit

drill bit

keyless chuck

(1) Gravel and Garden: Depending on where you live, your driveway gravel may be a good source of quartz crystals and your lawn may be treasure trove of agate, a type of quartz. You can break large rocks with a hammer to see if they are crystalline, then use a rock polisher or rock tumbler to shine your stones.

(2) Beach Glass or Sea Glass: Weathered bits of broken glass accumulate near seashores, making the beach a favorite destination for gem hunters. While not technically gemstones, colored glass pebbles make beautiful beads. Beachcombers can combine shells with sea glass to make unique jewelry.

(3) Broken Glass and Ceramic: If you don't live near the beach, you can polish pieces of broken glass and ceramics with a rock tumbler to make your own sea glass or ceramic gems. Glass marbles can also be tumbled into frosty beads.

(4) Gem Mines: Many state lands are rich in gems in the water or near the surface. Some public gem mines allow visitors to sort and sift loose stones to find rough gems. Some of the most popular gem mines are
  • Crystal Grove (New York)
  • Virgin Valley Mines (Nevada)
  • Gem Mountain (North Carolina)
  • Emerald Village (North Carolina)
  • Sheffield Mine (North Carolina)
  • Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine (Montana)
There are many more gem mining opportunities in Arizona, Arkansas, and Idaho. Check your state's tourism office to find gemstone mines near you. Most mines charge between $20 and $80 per bucket of rocks depending on the rarity, average size, and value of the stones.

(5) Yard Sale Jewelry: If you frequently shop for bargains at yard sales, be on the lookout for old jewelry with gems. You can remove the stones from the settings to make your own gem beads, or place them in new settings. Look for large glass bead necklaces and bracelets or costume jewelry pieces. Also check in thrift stores for damaged pieces that you can refurbish or use for parts.

© Had2Know 2010