One of our favorite activities for the grandkids is to hunt for sapphires! Real sapphires hidden in gravel dirt. It is of course, special dirt from Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine near Philipsburg, Montana. When our children were small we went there and they hunted for “pretty rocks” in the gravel. We now have to settle by ordering gravel from Gem Mountain to sift through.
The Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine is one of the largest, oldest, and best Sapphire Mines in the World. You could call it the “Quiet Giant” of sapphire mines because it has produced over 180 million carats of sapphire for over 120 years without receiving much “press”. Mining first started in 1892 with large stones exhibiting good color and clarity faceted as finished gemstones. The small and fractured stones were sold by the ounce for industrial purposes. The vast majority of early production targeted the uniform round small sapphires which were shipped to Switzerland for use as watch bearings. The invention of synthetic sapphire curtailed the large scale mining operations but did not halt sapphire mining altogether. Following WW II an active business developed for rock hounds to visit Gem Mountain and dig for sapphires by hand. In the mid 1960’s the owner formally opened the Chausee Sapphire Mine and began bringing sapphire gravel to the store. The name was changed to Gem Mountain in the early 1980’s. Today we continue over 50 years of sharing the excitement of allowing you to find genuine Montana Sapphires in a bucket of Gem Mountain Sapphire Gravel.