State Precious Stone of North Carolina: Emerald


By Amy Kemp
Government and Heritage Library, 2017

The General Assembly of 1973 designated the emerald as the official State Precious Stone. (Session Laws, 1973, c. 136).

Selection as the State Precious Stone

The Bill to establish the Emerald as the State Precious Stone was introduced by Rep. Margaret Keesee of Guilford county in January of 1973. It received little opposition and was passed in April of 1973.

About the Emerald

An Emerald is a green variety of beryl highly prized as a gemstone. Emeralds are one of the ‘big four’ gemstones (Diamonds, Emeralds, Rubies, and Sapphires) that are most popular for jewelry and commercial use. The beryl’s natural color is clear, but gets its color from small amounts of chromium and vanadium. They will lose their color if heated. Emeralds occur naturally as six sided prisms, sometimes called ‘bolts,’ and are usually elongated with smooth sides.

North Carolina has the only significant emerald deposits in North America.

Emeralds were first found in Alexander County in 1874, and later in Mitchell County (1890) and Cleveland County (1897). Today, these are North Carolina’s three known emerald districts.

North Carolina’s emeralds are found in pockets of quartz veins. Pockets can range from a few centimeters to three meters in length.

An emerald crystal weighing 1869 carats, thought to be the largest ever found in North America, was unearthed in late 2003 at a mine in Hiddenite, near Statesville. A 71-carat stone found on the same property yielded two finished stones--the 7.85 carat Carolina Prince that sold for $500,000, and the Carolina Queen (18.88 carats). Other famous emeralds of North Carolina include the 858 carat “Empress Caroline” and the cut 64.82 carat “Carolina Emperor,” which is styled after an emerald once owned by Empress Catherine the Great of Russia.

Due to their rarity, synthetic emeralds are also produced in the United States through a hydrothermal method, in which aquamarine crystals are placed in a water solution under high temperatures and pressure.

Old folktales attribute many properties to the emerald. It has been said that they can cure dysentery, prevent epilepsy, assist women in childbirth, preserve chastity, and even drive away evil spirits.


The gem hiddenite is a relative of the emerald and is one of the rarest gems in the world. It can be found in very few places, one of which is Alexander County, North Carolina. It was discovered 1879 in the town of White Plains by Dr. William Hidden. Hidden was sent to the area by Thomas Edison to find an alternative material to replace tungsten in light bulbs. He found instead a variety of spodumene never before seen. The stone was named Hiddenite, and the town of White Plains was renamed Hiddenite in its honor. Hiddenite is not mined commercially, but it can be cut as a gemstone.

North Carolina Session Laws

Session Laws, 1973, c. 136

H. B. 82                    CHAPTER 136


The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

Section 1.  Chapter 145 of the North Carolina General  Statutes is amended by adding the following section thereto:

"§ 145-8. The Emerald is hereby adopted as the official State precious stone of the State of North Carolina."

Sec. 2. This act shall become effective upon the opening of the National Gem Show in Charlotte June 28, 1973.

In the General Assembly read three times and ratified, this the 5th day of April, 1973.

References and additional resources:

The Mineral Industry of North Carolina 2003 (from U.S. Geological Survey) -- mentions several emeralds from North Carolina

The Mineral Industry of North Carolina 2006 (from U.S. Geological Survey) -- latest available report

Resources in Worldcat

"Jamie Hill can relate: How green was my valley." New Bern Sun Journal, March 25, 2001.

“Rare Emeralds donated to museum.” Gaston Gazette, March 17, 2012. 4B




I am actually from hiddenite actually live born an raised here on Hill River Road in Hiddenite. I actually have a lot of questions about the whole subject in general. Like what are the biggest factor to be looking for as far as land terrain an specific rock type an its consistency versus other rocks.. I have natural spring in front of the house which sits back about 200 yards off the rd. The spring lies in the bottom of 2 hills half way downdriveway. would a natural spring be an ideal spot to prosprect?? I've actually seen an abundance of Courts and all types of other routes heck piles of Courts like somebody has placed them there actually I don't know maybe you can give me some insight on what I need to do on furthering my education of what I could do as far as figuring out anything about this whole situation?? I'd love nothing more than bring that Green Beauty out of the ground that I know has been laying is there all these years!!


Kind of wondering when did people start to notice and want emeralds like people do now?


The Native Americans probably used them for jewelry and then showed them to the Pilgrims.


This is an interesting thought. Have you found any scholarly articles on this topic that you can share?

Mike Millner, NC Government & Heritage Library


why are emralds so green


Emeralds are a variety of the mineral beryl. They are green because of chromium.

Mike Millner, NC Government & Heritage Library


Are emeralds always green?


Why is the emerald so important to nc?


Hi Porter,

Thanks for visiting NCpedia and sharing your question.

North Carolina has a long history emerald mining beginning at least in the 1870s.  In 1969, the largest specimen discovered in North America was found in North Carolina.  You might be interested in this entry on precious gems in the state:

I hope this helps with your question.

Best wishes,

Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library


how are emeralds mined?

Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. If you would like a reply by email, please note thats some email servers are blocked from accepting messages from outside email servers or domains. These often include student email addresses from public school email accounts. If you prefer not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply. Please allow one business day for replies from NCpedia. Complete guidelines are available at