When I was a kid, my parents took my brother and I to a sapphire mine in the town of Philipsburg, Montana.
It was a lot different in those days, but the mine is still open. I stopped by the retail store to pick up a bag of gravel.
If you prefer, you can mine your bucket of gravel at the store. They have tables set up and will wash the gravel for you.
After I paid, I went to the side of the store where they let me choose my bucket. They dumped my gravel into a bag and sent me on my way. You get 25 pounds of gravel in a bucket.
My bag has been in my truck for a few days untouched. Today we decided to stay put and have a rest day, so mining seemed like a great idea.
After removing what I wanted to look through, I rinsed it really thoroughly and dumped it upside down onto a towel on the picnic table.
I only went through about a few cups of the gravel, but I got a few beautiful stones. I’m looking forward to looking for more gems.
You can send your stones back to the store for evaluation, heat treating, faceting, and setting.