Experience the joy of hunting for gems.

Excavating mountains to unearth precious gems seems like something out of an Indiana Jones movie.

However, the dream can become a reality. There are a number of active gem mountains in the world who's geologically rich terrain allows for a potentially bountiful vacation.

Take the whole family on a trip to one of these gem mountains, and experience the feeling of unearthing something wonderful.

Check out Cambodian Gem Mountains

cambodian gem mountain

Before you embark on your gem mountain vacation, let's take a look at what exactly is a gem mountain and a bit of history behind them.

A gem mountain is a geographical location where people have been known to unearth precious gemstones.

One of the most well-known excavation sites in the world is the Cambodian gem mountains.

Once upon a time, you could find Pailin blue sapphires at this mountain located on the Thai-Cambodian border. These days, however, your bounty will yield a different crop.

The most important gems you could find in the Cambodian gem mountains these days are zircon stones. Zircon stones are known for their blue color, which is achieved through the heating process once they've been excavated.

Blue Sapphire Cambodia Loose Gemstone

If the heat treatment is done thoroughly and by a professional, the coloring will be permanent.

The zircon stones themselves are unearthed from the Cambodian gem mountains by hand. The earth is brought to the surface and subsequently sifted through a panhandle.

Gem dealers will then visit the site and look at the collected zircon stones in detail, often using penlights to determine their value. They will usually buy their zircon stones uncut, straight from the source.

Crater of Diamonds Gem Mountain

crater of diamonds

Now that you know a little about what's involved when operating and visiting a gem mountain let's take a look at some famous spots where you can take the family for some recreational treasure hunting.

Jamie Pearson of Foors says that she loves taking her family to Crater of Diamonds State Park. This gemstone mountain is located in Murfreesboro in Arkansas.

The reason why this is such a favorite site to visit with the family is that it's the only diamond gem mountain that is currently open to public excavations. At this site, you can potentially find gem quality diamonds.

While you shouldn't take up this particular dig with the fantasy of becoming rich from it, Crater of Diamonds gem mountain still has a lot to offer.

In fact, you can find up to 40 other minerals and rocks buried within this ancient volcanic ground. This means that even if you don't come across a diamond, you're still going to go home with something interesting.

With the admission being just $7 for adults and $4 for children, this gem mountain is an ideal geological location for having fun with the whole family and learning about how gems are unearthed.

Two Great Gem Mountains in North Carolina

group mining

North Carolina is home to two great gem mountains.

You'll find Cherokee Ruby Mine in Franklin, North Carolina. At this gem mountain, you'll be given a cushion to sit on and a screen box that will show you the gemstones that have been found at this site.

This family-friendly excavation site is home to rubies, garnets, sapphires, and moonstones. Once you've been shown some examples of these, you'll be taken to the site with your screen where you can begin sluicing.

You'll also find Emerald Hollow Mine gem mountain in North Carolina. Specifically, in Hiddenite, this gem mountain is home to a particular type of gemstone – emeralds.

In fact, it's the only emerald mine that's open to the public in the United States. They have three sluiceways that you can sit at, where you'll be able to sluice through volcanic rock and dirt that they've excavated straight from the mine.

While emeralds are top of the list, there are a number of other gemstones you can unearth at Emerald Hollow Mine. These include topaz, garnets, amethysts, and sapphires.

You can sluice through one bucket with your $5 admission. For a further fee, you can also try your hand at digging yourself.

Visiting a Great Gem Mountain

visiting gem mountain

Find your buried treasure.

Gem mountains are a great way to find precious gemstones in their natural source. It's hard to remember where they come from when they're sitting in jewelers.

Take a history lesson and discover what it's like to mine for gemstones by visiting one of these great gem mountains that are still open to the public.

While you might not win the lottery and find a large diamond, you'll still have fun learning about the process of mining for precious gemstones.