Well we are wrapping up our Great American Road Trip. We departed Yellowstone and the guest ranch early this morning and drove to Philipsburg, MT to hunt for Sapphires! It was a 3 hour drive from the guest ranch to Philipsburg and Gem Mountain.
Sapphire mining was so much fun! Basically you buy sand and rocks by the 3 gallon bucket. We bought 6 and got 1 free – so 21 gallons of dirt. You start with about 3 or 4 cups of material. You get it wet and slosh it around and then agitate the material back and forth to bring the sapphires to the bottom as they are heavier than the rocks. You then take your screen full of material and dump it upside down on a table. We worked in the sun as it helped see the sapphires. Once you dump the material over on to the table manytime the sapphires are right on top of top and in the center. With 7 buckets we ended up with a total of about 70 ctw in gems. Most are very small and would only work as accent pieces, but we had a couple over 1 ctw each. Noah actually found one that was 1.7 ctw and very very blue. We now have to send them in and have them heat treated to help bring out their colors and then facetted.
It was really a ton of fun. Noah has great eyes for spotting sapphires! I wish we would have had more time, but you can order materials through them mail!