HIDDENITE, N.C. – A Hiddenite couple is trying to determine what they’ll do with a 50.5 carat emerald.
Kevin and Libby Barrieault are gemstone enthusiast, who enjoy mining for buried treasures. The Barrieault’s deep rooted passion turned into a huge pay off when they uncovered a 50.5 carat emerald at the North American Emerald Mine in Hiddentite.
Jamie Hill, owner of North American Emerald Mine, tells NewsChannel 36 it’s the first time in 40 years that they’ve allowed “Rock Hounds” or “Gem Clubs” onto the property to mine. Hill estimates the Barrieault’s find could net them $10,000.
"I don't think I'll sell it, but we're not sure yet" said Libby. "I might just put a wire around it and wear it like it is. It's beautiful," she explained.
According to Libby, they were at the location on Friday for only five minutes before making the discovery.
"There must have been about 250 people out there when we found it" said Libby.
Kevin and Libby are part of the Mountain Area Gem and Mineral Association Club (MAGMA), the club takes field trips to different mines. Members of the club came from as far as Ohio to root through the dirt on Hill’s mine.
“Nobody will dig like the "Rock Hounds". They get into every nook and cranny” said Hill.
On Saturday, another couple from Florida scored an even bigger find. Hill tells NewsChannel 36 at first the couple found a 30 carat emerald and then they stumbled upon a rock that was embedded with several emeralds -- an estimated 370 carats. In all the couple found approximately 400 carats. Hill said the pair had never been to an emerald mine.
“They were like a human bulldozer, they had picks and shovels. By the end of the day they had transformed the landscape,” said Hill about the miners.
Generally, the North American Emerald Mine is open for commercial use, they only allowed in the MAGMA club because they were persistent in asking for two years. And, Hill says the economy had impacted his business. Allowing professional gem clubs to mine is a good source of revenue for his business.
“We’re not opening our doors to the general public just yet, but we will allow gem clubs and professional clubs in every once in a while,” said Hill.
Because mining on Friday and Saturday proved successful, there will be another day next weekend for the MAGMA club to come in and mine once more.
“I’m expecting a huge turnout,” said Hill.