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About the Cherokee Ruby Mine
The Cherokee Ruby and Sapphire Mine is a “placer” gem mine. The term “placer” refers to mineral bearing deposits of ancient sand, dirt, and gravel which were left behind by ancient glaciers, rivers, or other flowing waters. The material of these placer deposits  contain precious gems and other semi-precious gems and minerals. Only NATIVE Cowee Valley North Carolina gems and minerals can be found at our mine. We do not offer  “salted“ or “enriched” or “rainbow” bearing gemstones to our mining customers. Throughout the years, experienced ruby/sapphire miners and “rock hounds” all know that the majority of the largest and finest “gem quality” Cowee Valley, NC rubies and sapphires have all been found at the Cherokee Ruby and Sapphire Mine.
For thousands of years, the ruby has been considered one of the most valuable gemstones on Earth. It has everything a precious stone should have: magnificent color, excellent hardness and outstanding brilliance. In addition to that, it is an extremely rare gemstone, especially in its finer qualities.  The term 'corundum', which we use today, is derived from the Sanskrit word 'kuruvinda'. The Sanskrit word for ruby is 'ratnaraj', which means something like 'king of the gemstones'. Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum, Second only to diamond, corundum is now considered to be the hardest mineral on Earth.
 
 
 
Sapphire is also a variety of corundum. Pure corundum is colorless. Slight traces of elements in corundum such as chrome, iron, titanium or vanadium are responsible for the colors of gemstones.  Only red corundum is entitled to be called ruby, all other colors being classified as sapphires.  Ruby, this magnificent red variety from the multi-colored corundum family, consists of aluminum oxide and chrome as well as very fine traces of other elements - depending on which deposit it was from.  Millions of years ago, when the gemstones were being created deep inside the core of the Earth, chrome was the element which gave the ruby it’s magnificent color.  Rubies of more than 3 carats in size are very rare. Rubies with hardly any inclusions are so valuable that in good colors and larger sizes they achieve top prices at auctions, surpassing even those paid for diamonds in the same category.

Some rubies found at the Cherokee Mine display a wonderful silky shine, the so-called 'silk' of the ruby. This phenomenon is caused by very fine needles of rutile. Now and then one of the rare star rubies is found at the Cherokee Mine. Here too, the mineral rutile is involved: having formed a star-shaped deposit within the ruby, it causes a captivating light effect known by the experts as asterism. If rubies of this kind are cut as half-dome shaped called “cabochons“ the result is a six-spoked star which seems to glide magically across the surface of the stone when moved. Star rubies are very precious rarities. Their value depends on the beauty and attractiveness of the color and, though only to a lesser extent, on their transparency. Fine star rubies, however, should always display rays which are fully formed all the way to the imaginary horizontal line which runs through the middle of the stone, and the star itself should be situated right in the centre.
The REAL "gem" at the mine, Maria (aka: 'Mom')
If you are just interested in finding something neat, I would recommend one of the salted places. It takes less time and you'll find something, but won't be worth much. True rockhounds go to places like Cherokee to find only native gems and minerals.  Mark L - Fairfax, VA
News & Events
 April 1st, 2014
OPENING DAY OF OUR 2014  SEASON!