The Sapphire Mine
One of only two retail businesses in North America that own and operate our own heat treating furnaces for the natural color improvement in sapphire.
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 130 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.
Sapphire Mining is a lot easier today than it used to be. In the old days you had to bring your own tools and equipment and dig and screen to find sapphires. Today, we dig up the dirt for you and wash it to remove the big rocks and clay. We haul gravel to the store by the dump truck load and sell it by the bucket. The gravel is 100% natural; and you can tell when you see it: It’s dirty dirt. When you purchase a gravel bucket from Gem Mountain you have the exact same odds of finding a large, high value, sapphire as we do at the mine. Every year customers find tens of thousands of sapphires, and every year there are several hundred three carat or larger stones found that are worth hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars when finished as a cut and polished gemstone. To learn more, and see pictures, visit our Facebook page and click on “photos”.
We love visitors of all ages. If you’re planning a vacation in Montana join us for a sapphire mining experience the whole family will enjoy. We’re Montana’s largest, oldest, and most fun Sapphire Mine, with the best facilities, equipment and fun loving, helpful staff. You will find Sapphires, and for a small fee we will evaluate all of your sapphires and tell you which ones are gem quality. Gem Quality stones can be heat treated to improve color and faceted to create a beautiful finished gemstone suitable for jewelry. We are one of only two retail businesses in North America that own and operate our own heat treating furnaces for color improvement in sapphire. You can learn more about heat treating here. We facet over 25,000 stones a year for visitors from all over the world. Come and see us. We looking forward to seeing you.
21 Sapphire Gulch Lane
at mile marker 38.4 of Montana Highway 38, Skalkaho Pass Road, between Hamilton and Philipsburg.