The 9 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Delaware In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

The 9 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Delaware In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Updated

Looking for some new gem mining locations in Delaware? You’ve come to the right place. With its abundance of waterways, Delaware has great spots for gem mining. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned gem collector, Delaware has something for you. So, put on your boots, grab your gear, and explore some of the best spots for gem mining here!

The best places to mine gems here are in the beaches, quarries, reservoirs, state parks, and valleys. Among our favorites are Cape Henlopen, Hoopes Reservoir, Woodlawn Quarry, White Clay Creek State Park, and Brandywine Springs State Park, which we have discussed in more detail below.

How We Picked The Best Places For Gem Mining in Delaware
In order to find the absolute best places in Delaware for gem mining, we had to consider a lot of things. It can be really tough to find good information, so it took us a long time to put together a solid list like the one below. The main inputs to our recommendations are as follows:

  • The extensive local experience and understanding of our team
  • Input from several gem hunting groups and organizations
  • The accessibility of the mining locations
  • Safety and potential hazards when collecting
  • Private and public locations
  • A desire to include locations for both experienced gem hunters and those who are just starting out

Overall, we’ve been able to put together a great list that anyone can use to locate a lot of beautiful gems.

The Gemstones Found In Delaware You Can Mine

Six pieces of reddish black Almandine Garnets

If you’re looking for some thrilling and challenging gem mining adventure, our state is the perfect choice for you! While gems are not as abundant here as in other states, finding them will not be impossible if you follow our suggestions and recommendations of the best places to mine here.

Aside from Delaware, we also created other guides to help you find gem mines near you if you’re also planning to explore other states. With a bit of luck and tons of preparation, your next gemstone find is surely just around the corner!

Rare gemstones found in Delaware

  • Garnet (Almandine)
  • Sillimanite

More common gemstones found here

  • Beryl
  • Feldspar
  • Quartzite
  • Serpentine

Our Favorite Places For Gem Mining In Delaware

We jotted down our favorite places to gem mines in our state that anybody can enjoy visiting, exploring, and discovering. We made sure to include places that adults will be thrilled to hunt gems in and locations where kids are free to be kids while looking for gemstones.

Always Confirm Access and Collection Rules!

Before heading out to any of the locations on our list you need to confirm access requirements and collection rules for both public and private locations directly with the location. We haven’t personally verified every location and the access requirements and collection rules often change without notice.

Many of the locations we mention will not allow collecting but are still great places for those who love to find beautiful rocks and minerals in the wild without keeping them. We also can’t guarantee you will find anything in these locations since they are constantly changing. 

Always get updated information directly from the source ahead of time to ensure responsible rockhounding. If you want even more current options it’s always a good idea to contact local rock and mineral clubs and groups

Cape Henlopen

Pieces of beautiful Cape May Diamonds found while gem mining

15099 Cape Henlopen Drive Lewes, DE 19958

Cape Henlopen is part of the Delaware Seashore State Park and was originally named Cape James after Charles II of England. The area was first discovered by a captain in 1608 during his exploration of the Chesapeake Bay area. The first European settlers arrived in 1631, when Dutch traders established a trading post on the cape. During the American Revolution, Cape Henlopen served as an important military outpost for both British and American forces.

In recent years, this area has become known for its gem mining opportunities. You can search for gems at various locations around the cape including Slaughters Beach and Gordon’s Pond State Park. You can also take part in guided tours that will teach you about gemstones found in our state’s coastal region and how to identify them.

The Types of Gems Found In The Cape Henlopen

This place is our favorite because of the unique Quartz that can be found here that is also called the “Cape May Diamond”.

The Best Time To Visit Cape Henlopen

The best time to visit here is during the summer months, from May through September. The warmer temperatures make it easier to spend time outdoors. During these months, there are also more gem mining events and activities taking place here.

Rock pick being used

The tools every gem hunter will need

When you're out looking for gems it's very important that you bring the right tools with you. You don't need a lot for most trips but there are a handful that are critical and will make your life a lot easier.

We get asked a lot about the equipment we use. Over the years we've found a handful of tools that we recommend to both new and experienced gem miners which we outline in great detail in our complete rockhound supplies guide. These are quality options that also happen to be relatively inexpensive.

Below are the basic tools that make your life so much easier and save you a ton of time. Check out the full guide to see everything we recommend bringing.

One quick note, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases but we try very hard to only recommend gear we would use ourselves and often recommend brands you can't find on Amazon.At a minimum you should have:

1 - Sturdy rock hammer: The Estwing Rock Pick is our standard

2 - Rugged chisels: Try Kendo' 3-piece Chisel Set

3 - Compact shovel: The Koleiya 28-inch shovel works well

4 - Rock screen pan: The Wazakura Soil Sieve Set fits the bill

5 - Eye protection: DeWalt Safety Glasses are cheap and comfortable

6 - Head protection: Malta's Safety Helmet has been our go-to

7 - Jewelers lens with at least 20x magnification: Jarlink's Jewelers Loop is perfect

The gem-finding books that we use most

There are also a few books that have been extremely helpful in the search for gems. These books have great recommendations and tips:

National Audubon Society Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals: North America 

Northeast Treasure Hunter's Gem & Mineral Guide 

Earth Treasures: The Northeastern Quadrant 

We provide links to find these tools on Amazon but some can also be found at your local hardware stores. For more recommendations check out the link to our full tool guide above.

Hoopes Reservoir

1930 Barley Mill Road Wilmington, DE 19807

Hoopes Reservoir is a man-made lake that was formed in 1934 by the construction of a dam on Red Clay Creek. It is the largest body of water in our state, covering an area of about 1,500 acres.

This area has been used for different recreational activities since its formation, with gem mining becoming popular here in recent years. When you visit here, you can purchase kits that include gemstone-filled gravel bags that you can sift through.

The Types of Gems Found In The Hoopes Reservoir

This place is known for having rich deposits of Sillimanite.

The Best Time To Visit Hoopes Reservoir

If you want to visit here, do so during the spring and summer months. The warmer weather provides more opportunity for outdoor activities and the days are typically longer, giving you more time to search for gems.

Woodlawn Quarry

Two pieces of shiny light green Beryl attached to a Quartz

Wilmington, New Castle County, DE

Woodlawn Quarry is a former limestone quarry that has been transformed into a recreational area and gemstone mining destination. It was originally opened in the late 1800s to extract high-quality limestone for use in construction and other industrial purposes. The site was abandoned around the early 20th century but was rediscovered by gem hunters in the 1970s.

Today, you can explore the quarry walls and search for various types of precious gems. Aside from its gemstone mining opportunities, the place also features several trails that are perfect for other recreational activities.

The Types of Gems Found In The Woodlawn Quarry

This location has plenty of different kinds of gemstones, especially deposits of the following:

  • Beryl
  • Garnet
  • Feldspar
  • Quartz

The Best Time To Visit Woodlawn Quarry

The best time to visit here is during the summer months, from June through August. The weather is typically mild and while the quarry is accessible year-round, these months are the most convenient time to explore it.

White Clay Creek State Park – Great for kids

A bright light green Serpentine attached to a rock against a black background

750 Thompson Station Rd, Newark, DE 19711

White Clay Creek State Park, located in northern New Castle County, is one of the largest state parks in our state. It features a variety of outdoor activities, including gem mining for kids and adults alike.

When you visit here, you can purchase mining kits that contain tools such as sieves and screens to help you search for gems. If you find gems here, you are allowed to keep them as souvenirs or use them in jewelry making or other crafts.

The Types of Gems Found In The White Clay Creek State Park

This place is great for kids to be introduced to gem mining since it has a wide range of different gemstones, such as:

  • Feldspar
  • Garnet
  • Quartz
  • Serpentine

The Best Time To Visit White Clay Creek State Park

Looking to visit? The best time would be during the summer months of June to August. During this time, the weather is warmer and the streams are usually running at a higher level, making it easier to find gems. Additionally, during this time of year, there are typically more visitors at the park which can make your experience more enjoyable.

Brandywine Springs State Park – Great for kids

A bunch of dark green Sillimanite atop a rock

3302 Faulkland Rd, Wilmington, DE 19808

Brandywine Springs State Park stands on the grounds of a former resort and amusement park that was active from 1825 to 1935. The area was originally inhabited by Native Americans and later became an important part of the Underground Railroad. It features a variety of recreational activities, including gem mining.

When you get the chance to visit here, you can purchase bags of soil containing gemstones. Aside from gem mining, the park also offers other recreational activities that you can enjoy after your search.

The Types of Gems Found In The Brandywine Springs State Park

There are different kinds of gemstone that can be found here, but it is most well-known for having Sillimanite.

The Best Time To Visit Brandywine Springs State Park

The best time to explore this place is during the summer months of June, July, and August, when the weather is amply warm for some great gem hunting experience.

Other Great Options For Real Gem Mining in Delaware

Pieces of beautiful transparent Cape May Diamonds

In addition to our favorite places to gem mines in our state, here are some other great options that you may explore. These places are best for adults who are wanting to experience the thrill of a real gem hunt.

  • Deauville Beach – Quartz (“Cape May Diamond”)
  • Fowler Beach – Quartz (“Cape May Diamond”)

The Top Public Gem Mining Locations in Delaware

A large gray Quartzite against a yellow orange background

If you want to expose your kids to the hobby of gem mining, below are some of the best family-friendly gem mine sites that the entire family will enjoy.

Delaware Gem Mining Laws And Regulations

Our state has some general mining laws that may apply to gem mining. For example, it is illegal to mine on state-owned or state-controlled land without a permit from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). It is also illegal to disturb any archaeological sites while doing the activity. Recreational gem mining is also allowed on private property with the permission of the landowner.

Remember to familiarize yourself with all relevant local laws and regulations here before beginning your activity.

For more information on the state’s gem mining laws and regulations, visit the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s link above.

Additional Places To Mine For Gems In Nearby States

If you’ve already tried all of our recommendations above or are planning a trip out of the state you should check out our guides for neighboring states:

If you have any recommendations we haven’t covered please leave them in the comments below!

About Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Keith Jackson is an avid rockhound who is constantly exploring new sites to expand his collection. He has worked as a professional Geologist for over 20 years and holds a PhD in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a Masters Degree in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a Bachelors Degree in Geology from the University of Connecticut.

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