Gem mining is a popular activity for visitors to North Carolina and when it comes to emeralds, the Hiddenite area in Alexander County is unmatched. The largest and longest emeralds ever found in North America were found in the Hiddenite area, which is home to Emerald Hollow Mine, the only emerald mine in the United States open to the public for prospecting. Visitors can search for emeralds and more than 60 other types of gems at the Emerald Hollow. Most guests select from buckets filled at the mine and use sluicing to separate the gems. Emerald Hollow has three sluiceways where water washes over the soil as a filter. Visitors can also opt to prospect creek-side along the property’s 70 acres in specific areas where digging is permitted. Emerald Hollow also offers lapidary service and is a popular spot for educational field trips. Types of gems found at the site include emerald, aquamarine, sapphire, garnet and amethyst as well as the rare stone called Hiddenite. Hiddenite is a member of the spodumene family of gems and can only be found in this area of North Carolina. Gem mining is one of many popular side trips visitors can experience in North Carolina.