For over 50 years visitors have come from across the country (and even the world) to the North Carolina Mineral, Gem and Jewelry Festival to enjoy shopping for beautiful jewelry, gemstones, beads, silver, minerals, and more. This year's Festival is August 1st thru the 4th at the Bridge Coliseum in Spruce Pine. The coliseum is located at 97 Pinebridge Avenue. It runs Thursday through Saturday 10 am to 6 pm then Sunday from 12:30-5 pm. Free shuttles provided by Mitchell County PublicTransportation. The NC Mineral, Gem and Jewelry Festival is directed by the Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce and supported by nearly 100 community volunteers. The Festival is an indoor festival so weather is never a problem!
Thursday: Senior Citizen Day...all Seniors admitted for just $1, Friday: Girls' Day Out! All ladies attending the Festival will be greeted with special booths just for them with goodies, samples and more!, Sunday: Mitchell County Day...all local citizens are admitted to the Festival for just $1
Each year during the NC Mineral and Gem Festival visitors can enjoy tours to real mines in the area. Mine tours reservations can be made ahead of the Festival or coupons picked up at the Festival.
One of the unique experiences available to the Festival goers is the opportunity to prospect and dig for emeralds in the dumps at the Crabtree Emerald Mine. This mine produced emeralds from 1895 (including for the Tiffany Company of New York) until the mine closed in the 1990s. The actual mine shaft went underground several hundred feet and lies flooded under a small pond.
There are some extensive dumps around the mine, and it is clear the miners did not see or find everything! Recent digging through the dumps has produced a number of nice specimens. Of the minerals that have been found the most sought after is the Emerald, generally tightly locked into a matrix of quartz, mica, and feldspar. Also found in these dumps are black tourmaline, garnet, fluorite, aquamarine, and golden beryl.