Emerald Hunters Strike It Rich

$50K worth of gems found in old North Carolina mine

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 27, 2012 11:42 PM CDT | Updated Mar 31, 2012 10:32 AM CDT

(Newser) – A North Carolina entrepreneur thought he was smart to charge customers $25 to hunt gems in his old emerald mine. But he should have looked a bit more carefully first. The first amateur treasure hunters uncovered a giant 50.2-carat emerald worth thousands of dollars. Another couple emerged with a pocket of emeralds and crystals. "My husband asked where we should start digging," said lucky Libby Barrieault, new owner of a big green rock. "I said, 'This looks like a good spot.' Then he said, 'What do you think we can do with this?' and flipped the emerald over to me," she recalled. "It was one of those 'wow' moments."

The following day another couple uncovered the crystals, and 240 carats worth of stones worth up to $40,000. The visit by a group of rock hunters was the first time Jamie Hill had let anyone from the public enter his mine in more than 40 years. "I haven't had a major find in a number of years," Hill told ABC News. "I figured, if you bring in a whole bunch of recreational miners in here and let them loose, it's a great experience for them, and they may just find something."

Jamie Hill's North American Emerald Mine in North Carolina.
Jamie Hill's North American Emerald Mine in North Carolina.   (YouTube)
A North Carolina couple shows off the 50-carat emerald.
A North Carolina couple shows off the 50-carat emerald.   (YouTube)
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