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
Emerald Hunters Strike It Rich
Jamie Hill's North American Emerald Mine in North Carolina.   (YouTube)

(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."

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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." (Read more Libby Barrieault stories.)

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