Gemstones are naturally occurring crystalline forms of minerals. Every state in the United States has multiple types of gemstones in varying geologic formations. For example: Minnesota and Wisconsin have abundant agates along the shores of Lake Superior; Arkansas is famous for quartz deposits; Nevada has the highest quality opals in the nation; Oregon has feldspar; Maine is bursting with the state mineral: tourmaline and Wyoming is famous for its jade deposits. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) keeps data on likely locations for gemstone deposits. Gemstone digging has become known as such a fun and rewarding experience that private land owners often make profits by offering pay- to-dig excursions on their land.
1. Determine what type of gemstone you are hoping to find and how far you are willing to travel to obtain that specific stone. Consider how much money you are willing to spend on travel expenses and the dig itself.
2. Pay a visit to the local library or browse online in order to research what region of the country (or world) you are most likely to find deposits of the gemstone you are seeking. Resources below include links to helpful starting points: The American Federation of Mineralogical Societies and the USGS. Learn as much as you can about where the minerals are found, their properties and characteristics so that when you are digging, you are utilizing your time and energy wisely.
3. Talk with the Department of Geological Sciences at the local university. Often, professors in the field have firsthand experience and will be able to point you in the right direction on where to dig and what type of luck you will have.
4. Consider trying your luck at digging independently. If you determine that a local geological formation may contain gemstones, you can always set out with a shovel, pickaxe and pail yourself to try your luck. Be certain that the site you choose is a legal place to dig.
5. Look online to find pay-to-dig properties advertising your desired gemstone. This increases your odds of coming home with a gem. It is important that you call them to determine costs, dates of operation, limitations and restrictions and if the stones are natural or synthetic. Be sure to obtain all the information you need prior to embarking on your travels so you are not disappointed in the results.