Our area of North Carolina has a rich history in gems and minerals.
The Macon County area is known for rubies, sapphires and garnets. Substantial amounts of minerals and other precious stones have been discovered and mined here, such as amethyst, smoky quartz, citrine, emerald and moonstones.
The first commercial mining in Macon County began in 1870. Tiffany's showed and interest in the area in the 1890s believing that there was a large supply of corundum, the material we know as sapphire and ruby, but eventually ended their search in the early 20th century leaving it open to rock hounds and gem enthusiasts.
Today, numerous old mines have been reopened and adapted to the desires of visitors wishing to mine their own gems. Some of these mines offer digs for native minerals only, while others offer "enriched" stream sediment, which contains minerals from other parts of the state or world.
The Highlands Gem Shop was founded as a gem cutting and mineral shop. Even today, we maintain a strong connection to how we began. We have lots of unique rocks and minerals, a “touching department” for the little ones and our “mini-museum” of local material that was mined in this region. Come in and see us!