When you think about gemstones, perhaps you consider precious and shiny rocks that are only found in mines, on expeditions and created in jewellery laboratories. However, you may be surprised to know that you can find some more common gemstones in your own backyard.
These gemstones are hardly ever sitting simply on the surface but they can be found underneath the ground, waiting to be discovered. Now, you likely won’t be finding any diamonds or rubies underneath the grass however there are a few common gemstones that you may encounter.
The first of these is Quartz. Quartz can be considered the most common gemstone to come across in the USA and can be found in pretty much all of the country. Being so common, Quartz is often used in the creation of sculptures, countertops and other home decor pieces.
The gemstone is considered to be colourless however some impurities can give it some colour variation. Also, there are 3 different types of Quartz; Agate, Amethyst and Citrine – Amethyst is the rarest material making it the most valuable. To tell if a gemstone is Quartz, it will usually look milky white or clear and it is often found in lightly coloured rocks or sandstone.
Agate is often found with colours including grey, white and brown. Amethyst is purple in colour due to the missing electrons it has combined with iron impurities. Lastly, Citrine is yellow in colour due to iron impurities.
The next gemstone you may come across is Turquoise. This blue and green gemstone was often used by the Native Americans in the creation of pottery, clothing and jewelry. It is still a popular choice today. The gemstone is formed through a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminium.
Turquoise is considered to be an ornamental gemstone and will fit in nicely with some home decor pieces. The gemstone is found in dry part of the earth so southern states such as Arizona and Texas are the perfect places to find Turquoise in your backyard
If you live in states including California, Wyoming and Washington, there is a good chance that you could find some Jade in your backyard. This gemstone is often going on metamorphic rocks which are formed when an already existing rock type is exposed to a high level of heat or a high pressure.
Jade is a dull green colour when found in its natural state. However, in order to get the Jade to the shiny state which is often seen in jewelry stores, you will need to polish the gemstone quite a lot.
One gemstone which would be great to find is Garnet. Garnet is usually a deep red colour but this can be varied more towards orange and red depending on mineral types. This gemstone was used in ancient civilisations. The best states to find Garnet in your backyard are North and South Carolina, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, California, Idaho and Montana.
Next we have Opal which has become one the most popular and sought after gemstones. Opal is used in jewelry and black, fire and white Opal are among the most sought after variants as well as being the most valuable. Some rarer types of Opal have been valued above diamond.
Although considered rare, Opal is surprisingly easy to find in nature. This is because the gemstone is iridescent meaning it gives off very luminous colours that change depending on
which angle is viewed from. Due to this, when in its natural state, Opal is best found on a day where the sun is shining brightly. The gemstone is found in Idaho, Oregon, California and Nevada.
Lastly we have Tourmaline which is found most in Maine and California. Similarly to Opal, the colour of Tourmaline can change depending on the angle it is viewed and black Tourmaline is a particularly distinctive variant. The gemstone is used a lot in jewelry and is often confused with more valuable gemstones – Tourmaline itself is not worth that much money.
However, this makes it more affordable when used in jewelry unlike some of the other gemstones that have been previously mentioned.
Tools & Equipment
Now you know which gemstones you could find in your backyard, it’s important to know which tools and equipment you may require to collect the precious stones. There are times where gemstones can be found on the surface however this is rare and it’s likely you will have to look underground to find any.
The first tool you will likely need is a pickaxe. This is used to carefully take small chunks out of rocks in order to break into them and see if any gemstones are hidden inside. A pickaxe can also be used to break up compact and hardened dirt.
With the ability to break any rocks, you should aim to be careful and precise when using a pickaxe as you don’t want to damage any of the gemstones that are possibly there as this will likely decrease their value. The larger the gemstone, the more money it will be worth.
Next you will need some kind of shovel or trowel to remove dirt from your search area. Perhaps you may deposit it into some kind of container like a bucket or pale or you may just empty it onto the ground beside you. These towels can be used to remove the dirt but also to put it back when you’re finished.
An important thing to note is some gemstones may be in amongst dirt, so when digging, be sure to search it properly before moving on to more. For this, you may want to wear gloves as the dirt will get on your hands.
In addition, when gemstone hunting, you will want to use a classifier. This tool is often used in gold farming but is useful for any gemstones. A classifier is like a colander which you would use in the kitchen. It allows small pieces of gemstones to fall through and be separated from any larger pieces of rock or stone.
When using a classifier, be sure to place a container of some kind below it to catch and small pieces of gemstone that may fall out. Again, it’s likely you will need to search through the dirt to find them so wearing gloves for this task is advised.
Finally, a pair of tweezers. When breaking into rocks, it is possible you will come across very small pieces of gemstone that you are unable to retrieve using your hands. This is when a pair of tweezers can become useful. Use the tweezers to extract the gemstone from the rock, being sure not to squeeze too hard and damage the gemstone, and deposit any findings into a safe container.
Start The Act
With tools in hands and a knowledge of the types of gemstones you can find, it’s time to start looking for some! Going into your backyard, a great place to begin your search is any limestone deposits you may have there. Also, simply digging in any areas where a lot of rock has formed may prove to be successful.
Furthermore, if you have any areas with water in or nearby to your backyard then this could be the perfect place to find some previous gems. These areas include creeks, rivers and coastal areas. It is very likely you may not find anything as it all depends on luck and geographical location however if you never bother to look then you’ll never find any potential gemstones that may be hiding in your own backyard.
Assuming you had some luck and found some gemstones, you’re going to want to ensure they are nice and clean. To go about this, begin with a gem cloth. These can be bought fairly cheap at the likes of Amazon where products start at around $10.
When you have your gem cloth, you should start by folding it in half and then doing so a second time. When you’ve done this, fold back one the cloth’s corners and place your gemstone inside of it. Firmly rub the gemstone in between your fingers to remove any fingerprints, dirt or dust..
It’s important to note that some particular gemstones have a hardened and dull outer layer which will have to be professionally sanded down by a jeweler.
The idea of looking for gemstones may seem difficult and yes, it is. However, with this new knowledge, discovering the precious stones and being able to identify them should now be a lot easier.
Of course, always be prepared that you may not find anything or that things you do find might not be what you think it is. Always look for a professional opinion on any findings and, most importantly, enjoy the adventure. Especially if you find something valuable!