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Prospecting for Rubies & Sapphires

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Hi Steve,

The only place I know of in NC that had facet grade rubies was Cowee Valley and the percentage of facetable rubies was low. Our mine, the Jacobs Mine had a somewhat higher percentage of facetable stones, my guess is because it was on the tail end of the deposit, maybe the better grade stones could survive the trek down the creek intact. The stones from that mine also were smaller in addition to being better quality. As a general rule, most of the facetable stones were in the three carat range and smaller. I say these things in past tense since almost all of the mines that produced facet grade stones have closed, although there is still land in private hands that remains unworked to this day. Most likely the largest rubies you will hear of being found in NC are of specimen or cabochon quality. Sometimes a large cabochon grade stone with enough asterism to fashion a large star ruby or sapphire will be found, those can be pretty valuable of course. I saw a few very large star stones that were supposed to have been cut from NC material. One star ruby that was larger than the Rosser Reeves Ruby in the Smithsonian, and an even larger somewhat flat star sapphire a little smaller than the palm of a woman. The quality on both was fair to good, meaning fairly opaque but still with good defined stars. I've cut a star sapphire myself that turned out to be around three hundred carats or so when finished. It was from some gray corundum originally from the Old Pressley Mine in Canton. I bought the rough for a very good deal from an old gem dealer. The star is not that impressive itself, but you can see some glow, the size alone still makes it an interesting conversation piece although the opacity and rough star definitely put a damper on the actual monetary value.

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Hi Buckshot,

Dunite is pretty much composed of olivine from what I've read, maybe that could be a source of the green sands. However, if the host rock looks like it has a micaceous sheen, it may be something like fuschite or possibly chlorite, which are varieties of mica schist. I inserted links for images of those three minerals. I know there was a lot of what I was told was olivine on Corundum Hill, and it did have the granular appearance of dunite. Some Indian corundum specimens have fuschite as the host rock and even though there is apparently much dunite on Corundum Hill I was shown specimens from the area with a chlorite crust coating them. Congratulations on finding the specimens in host rock, which I would say is a pretty good feat for most locations in North Carolina considering the age of the Appalachian geology.

Rex: Thanks, it looks more like the pictures you have of fushite, however I saw some different pictures on another website and one of the chlorite rocks was very similar. I think we've probably narrowed it down to these two which is pretty good. I took some rocks samples to NCGS with green in it and they indicated that the rocks were probably amphibole deteriorated or changed to chlorite I don't have the exact term they used. Thanks again for you knowledge on this.

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