The entire state of Alabama is very rich from a geological perspective, this makes it an ideal state for rock hunting.
In this article, we’ll give you some good places to start hunting emerald.
Where To Find Emerald In Alabama: A Guide
The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.
Introduction To Emeralds In Alabama
The scientific name for Emerald is the natural mineral beryl.
The green coloring is attributed to trace elements of chromium and sometimes vanadium.
This lucky green colored gemstone is regarded as the ‘Stone of Prosperity.’
It is said to enhance the intellectual capacity of a person and develops reasoning skills.
Emeralds can’t be crafted into any tools or armor but are monetarily valuable and make beautiful jewelry.
In addition to being useful, emeralds are of interest to many collectors. Emerald ore is 30 times rarer than diamond.
Alabama’s land throughout the entire state is very rich from a geological perspective.
This makes it an ideal space for rock hunting.
The best places to rockhound are in the central and north-eastern portion of Alabama called Piedmont Upland.
Emerald can also be found throughout the Piedmont formation in Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. Emerald, and its variety aquamarine, can be found in Coosa County.
This is probably the best county in the state to search for a variety of different gems and minerals and is a very popular area for rockhounds looking for emerald.
Other cities to search in Alabama also include Rockford, Tuscaloosa, Ashland and Alexander City.
Within these cities you will find old mines, mineral prospects, pegmatite pockets, volcanic vugs, fumaroles and historically known rock collection sites.
These locations offer a diverse assortment of rocks and minerals including emerald, agate, jasper, garnet as well as petrified wood.
For those still suffering from gold fever, one may also find nostalgia in panning for gold along with other elements and minerals at the Alabama Gold Camp.
Whether you’re new to rockhounding emerald in Alabama or a pro at it, this guide will help you feel confident in knowing what locations to search and when.
Alabama’s state mineral is Hematite, the official state rock is marble, and star blue quartz is the state’s official gemstone since 1990.
There is a vast variety of gems within this beautiful state’s geology.
You can find a wide selection of interesting rocks and minerals, including emeralds, if only you know where to look.
Rockhounding Basics in Alabama
Most of the prime rockhounding sites in Alabama are concentrated in the eastern part of the state within the Appalachian Mountain range and Talladega forest.
These locations are within high altitude and structurally complex regions, so it is important to note that extreme heat, heavy snow, rain or sleet aren’t practical weather conditions to go looking for emeralds, or any gemstones, for that matter.
Fortunately, Alabama typically has milder weather conditions than its sister mountainous regions.
As such, rockhounding season is considered to be from March to November.
A good pair of hiking boots, a backpack, gloves and either a weather-appropriate jacket or sun block and insect repellant are ideal items for your rockhounding experience.
Make sure to check the weather forecast and conditions the night before and morning of your venture.
Locations to Search
With around 65 sites for gem collecting already marked, Alabama is a surprisingly prolific state for rock collecting.
With the ample opportunities the state provides, it’s all about choosing which sites are most convenient for you and which interest you the most.
Who knows, you may be the next explorer to discover and mark a new location of your own along the way!
- Gibson Mine GPS coordinates 33.342021, -85.886354
At the central-eastern cusp of the Appalachian Mountains, nestled within 392,570 acres of the Talladega National Forest you’ll find Gibson Mine.
Here, thanks to the U.S. Forest Service, rock and gemstone collecting is permitted within the entire forest.
This highly mineralized and geologically complex mixed terrain forest has several locations where you may discover wonderful specimens all within Clay County!
Nestled between PawPaws Grave and High Falls Trail Head is Caldwell Road, along Caldwell, you will come across Gibson Mine.
Using simple tools like a short-handled shovel, a geologist’s pick, and a bucket, you may be able to find abundant Emerald and Garnet within the mine.
To arrive here from Talladega, you will follow Ashland Hwy, which turns into Alabama State Road 77 for approximately ten miles until you arrive at Porters Gap.
Here you will turn left on to Horns Lake Rd and another left on Clairmont Springs Rd for seven miles until you reach Caldwell Rd.
On Caldwell you will pass over Talladega Creek, in approximately one mile you will directly intersect with Gibson Mine.
If you’ve reached PawPaws Grave you went too far.
Follow the GPS coordinates North-east about one half mile from Caldwell Rd to reach your destination.
- Near Pond Mine GPS coordinates 32.889112, -86.237833
A short one-hour scenic drive south from Gibson Mine is Rockford.
Hence the name, here in Coosa County you will find many different Emerald and rock mining locations.
Near Pond Mine you can find Emerald, Feldspar, Garnet, Moonstone, Quartz, Tourmaline.
To arrive here from Gibson Mine, you simply follow Caldwell Rd past Farr Away Farm and into Ashland.
From Ashland take HWY 9 south for 30 miles.
Follow the signs for Rockford.
Head West passing Rockford Cemetery and Red Mouth Creek.
The destination will be one mile directly west of downtown Rockford.
Within this area there are a few other sites to hit as well.
- Bently Tin Mine GPS coordinates 32.891393, -86.246585
Three minutes’ drive or a twenty minute walk further west from near Pond Mine is Bently Tin Mine.
Here, also in Coosa County, you will find another hot spot for gems including Emerald, Cassiterite crystals, Tantalite and Tourmaline.
The best places to search are along the Creek where water slows down and forms an alluvial deposit.
To get here from near pond mine, you simply take AL-22 West .9 miles.
You will park at a roundabout on the right-hand side of the road then hike about ten minutes North to Beaver Creek.
If you live in Birmingham and enjoy rockhounding all three of these sites are less than an hour outside of the city.
If you’re looking to be able to make a weekend out of rockhounding, Gibson, Pond and Bently Mine are the ultimate Alabama rockhounding destination trio, all within a sixty-mile radius of Birmingham.
Things to Remember When Searching for Emerald in Alabama
Always remember that rock collecting locations are constantly evolving and changing.
Specimens may become scarce over time from over collection, locations may have been built on or altered in some form, locality and name information in literature may be inaccurate, and property ownership may have changed persons.
The legalities of gemstone collecting on public land differ depending widely upon which four federal agencies owns it.
Land designated as national parks are areas of land that are protected from human damage and therefore, rockhounding is not permitted.
Public land owned by U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management usually allows for collecting of rocks and minerals with certain limitations.
Joining a local tour with other rockhounding enthusiasts such as the Dothan Gem & Mineral Club is another option you should consider.
Local clubs often obtain entry to private property that tourists would never even know about or have a chance to explore.
You may also apply for and obtain a scientific research permit which allows for more rock collecting in otherwise restricted locations.
It is important to note that the cutting of live vegetation is never allowed and rockhounding is restricted to surface collection of specimens only.
Make sure to always be safe and never go underground or in small caves.