Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sapphire Mining

About a month ago, we met my parents in Philipsburg, MT to do a little sapphire mining at Gem Mountain.  We had a lot of fun and it was a great family activity.  Parker loved playing in the dirt!  I would highly recommend it for anyone in the area.

You can buy a two gallon, gravel bucket for $20 and search/mine for sapphires.  Gem Mountain provides all the tools and equipment you will need.  After you get your bucket, you dump some of the gravel in a screen and head over to the gravel wash, where you do a combination of bouncing and rotating the screen in freezing cold water.  This was my least favorite part, the water was so cold.  I only did it a couple of times and then I had my dad do the rest.  He offered and I wasn't going to say no.  The sapphires are heavier than the gravel so they end up in the middle, on the bottom of the screen when you do the gravel wash.  Once you flip your screen, which you have to do quickly, you find most of the sapphires right away on top.  This was my favorite part.  Then you can sort through the rest of the gravel.  We spent quite a bit of time going through our gravel, because we didn't want to miss any sapphires.  After you are done going through your buckets, you can take them inside to the store and have them checked and weighed.  We found 76.47 carats in our four buckets, around 19 carats per bucket.  I read on their website that the average bucket has 12-14 carats of rough sapphires.  They offer heat treatments (to improve color and clarity) and faceting for large enough stones.  We had a few that we could have had faceted, but chose not to at that time.  We always can later.

Gravel Wash

Searching for Sapphires

After flipping the screen

Parker helping Grandpa wash the gravel

76.47 carats!

Our Sapphires and one Garnet

Happy Champagne Thursday!


1 comment: