The 20 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In New Jersey In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

The 20 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In New Jersey In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Updated

New Jersey is home to some of the most stunning natural gems and minerals in the United States. From its rolling hills to its sandy beaches, our state has something to offer for everyone.

Whether you’re a beginner looking to take your first steps into the world of gem hunting, or an experienced gem miner seeking the latest finds, this state has a wealth of gems just waiting to be discovered. With a variety of locations offering different experiences, here are some of the best spots for this adventure!

The best places to mine gems here are in the hills, mountains, beaches, quarries, creeks, and lakes. Among these are Snake Hill, Higbee Beach, The Palisades, Franklin Mineral Museum, and Sterling Hill Mining Museum, which we have discussed more in depth below.

How We Picked The Best Places For Gem Mining in New Jersey
In order to find the absolute best places in New Jersey 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 New Jersey You Can Mine

Prehnite is New Jersey's unofficial state gemstone.

New Jersey is extremely lucky to have amazing gemstones. We have created some guides to assist you in finding gem mines near you, because we know that each state has its own unique features, and not everybody knows how to get this information. With the right information and a bit of luck, you can discover both rare and more common gems here.

Rare gemstones found in New Jersey

  • Amber
  • Garnet
  • Franklinite

More common gemstones found here

  • Agate
  • Albite
  • Amethyst
  • Analcime
  • Apatite
  • Axinite
  • Barite
  • Bornite
  • Calcite
  • Carnelian
  • Chalcedony
  • Citrine
  • Cuprite
  • Datolite
  • Diopside
  • Dolomite
  • Epidote
  • Feldspar
  • Fluorite
  • Hematite
  • Jasper
  • Magnesite
  • Malachite
  • Marcasite
  • Natrolite
  • Obsidian
  • Opal
  • Pectolite
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz
  • Ruby
  • Serpentine
  • Siderite
  • Sphalerite
  • Spinel
  • Sunstone
  • Tephroite
  • Tourmaline
  • Tremolite
  • Willemite
  • Zincite

If you’re looking for more info on what you’re finding, check out our guide to New Jersey rock identification.

Our Favorite Places For Gem Mining In New Jersey

We listed our favorite places in our state that both adults and kids can visit to enjoy the experience of gem mining. First on this list are the best spots for adults who want to do real gem hunting, while the next ones are our suggestions for kids who are curious and interested in searching for gems.

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

Snake Hill

A Datolite is among the gems that can be found at Snake Hill

Secaucus, NJ 07094, United States

Snake Hill offers a unique experience, as visitors can search through dirt and gravel to find a variety of rare and more common gems. The site has been running since the early 1900s, when miners began extracting gemstones from its rocks. Over the years, it has expanded to include educational programs, gift shops, and a variety of other activities.

The Types of Gems Found In The Snake Hill

This location abounds in different kinds of gems, but it is well-known for having an abundance of the following:

  • Agate
  • Albite
  • Amethyst
  • Analcime
  • Apatite
  • Calcite
  • Datolite
  • Epidote
  • Malachite
  • Opal
  • Quartz
  • Siderite

The Best Time To Visit Snake Hill

If you are eyeing to visit Snake Hill, the best time to do so is during the summer months. This is when the water levels in the streams are at their highest, which makes it easier for you to find gems. The peak months are usually June, July, and August.

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.

Higbee Beach

Quartz can be found in Higbee Beach along with other gemstones

1 Higbees Beach Rd, Cape May, NJ 08204, United States

Higbee Beach, located in Middle Township, is part of the Cape May Peninsula. Gem mining has been a popular activity at this location since the late 1800s, when miners would search for gems along the shoreline. In recent years, it has become an even more popular activity among tourists of this place. You can purchase buckets containing a variety of gems and minerals from vendors onsite and then sift through them in hopes of finding something special. Aside from gems, you can also find New Jersey crystals in this area which makes it all the more appealing to visit.

The Types of Gems Found In The Higbee Beach

This place is rich in different kinds of gems, but the most abundant of them all are the following:

  • Amethyst
  • Chalcedony
  • Citrine
  • Quartz (also called “Cape May Diamond”)

The Best Time To Visit Higbee Beach

The summer months of June, July and August is the best time to visit Higbee Beach. Aside from the water being warmer and the beach being more accessible, the tide is usually low during this time, which makes it easier to find gems in the sand.

The Palisades

A Malachite is among the gems that can be found in The Palisades

Alpine, NJ 07624, United States

The Palisades is home to some of the oldest and most beautiful gem mining sites in the United States. This activity dates back to the early 1700s in this place, when Dutch settlers discovered its gems. Since then, it has been a popular activity for centuries, and you can still enjoy it today. You can explore abandoned mines, search for gems and minerals, or simply take in the stunning views of the Hudson River Valley from atop one of its many cliffs.

The Types of Gems Found In The Palisades

This place is known for having the following gemstones:

  • Agate
  • Albite
  • Amethyst
  • Analcime
  • Apatite
  • Calcite
  • Datolite
  • Epidote
  • Malachite
  • Opal
  • Quartz
  • Siderite

The Best Time To Visit The Palisades

If you have plans to visit The Palisades to search for gems, the best time to do so is typically from April to November. This is when the warm weather makes it easier to go around the place and find gems.

Franklin Mineral Museum – Great for kids

Kids enjoy searching for gems and minerals in one of the dumps of the Franklin Mineral Museum

32 Evans Street, Franklin, NJ 07416

The Franklin Mineral Museum is a gem mining and mineral collecting museum located in the historic town of Franklin. It houses a large collection of minerals from around the world, including a wide variety of gems and crystals. You can explore exhibits about local mining history, learn about gem identification, and explore interactive displays about geology. You can also purchase souvenirs from the museum’s gift shop or take part in gem mining activities at their on-site mine. The museum also offers educational programs for children and adults on topics related to mineralogy, geology, exploration and more.

The Types of Gems Found In The Franklin Mineral Museum

This place contain a rich variety of gems that can be found in its different dumps, making it a great location to teach children all about gems.

The Best Time To Visit Franklin Mineral Museum

The best time to visit the Franklin Mineral Museum is during the summer months of June, July, and August. The warmer temperatures during these months make it easier to work outdoors in the gem mining area and also provide more daylight hours for visitors, especially those who have kids with them, to enjoy their experience.

Sterling Hill Mining Museum – Great for kids

Kids proudly show off the different gems they found at the Sterling Hill Mining Museum.

30 Plant Street Ogdensburg, NJ 07439

Sterling Hill Mining Museum has the largest collection of fluorescent rocks and minerals in the world, featuring over 3,500 specimens from around the world. It offers educational programs and guided tours that explore both the history and science of mining. You can also explore an underground mine tour that will take you through winding tunnels and past huge ore deposits.

The Types of Gems Found In The Sterling Hill Mining Museum

This place has different gemstones that can be found in the region, such as the following:

  • Calcite
  • Diopside
  • Willemite
  • Zincite

The Best Time To Visit Sterling Hill Mining Museum

During the summer months of May through August is the best time to visit Sterling Hill Mining Museum. During this time, it is open from 10am to 4pm daily, and offers a variety of activities like gem mining, fossil digging, and more for visitors to enjoy.

Other Great Options For Real Gem Mining in New Jersey

New Jersey is also known for its Amber

The vast riches of New Jersey in terms of gemstones is evident in its many great spots for gem mining. Aside from our favorite ones listed above, here are also some more great spots that you can explore if you want to experience real gem hunting in this state.

  • Bergen Hill – Agate, Albite, Amethyst, Analcime, Apatite, Calcite, Datolite, Epidote, Malachite, Opal, Quartz, Siderite
  • Manasquan Beach – Quartz (“Cape May Diamonds”)
  • Franklin Furnace – Fluorite
  • Stirling Lake – Carnelian
  • Houdaille Quarry – Agate, Amethyst, Prehnite
  • Lambertville Quarry – Axinite, Prehnite, Datolite
  • Crosswick’s Creek – Amber
  • Hoboken – Agate, Amethyst, Magnesite, Opal, Serpentine
  • Mine Hill – Bornite, Calcite, Feldspar, Garnet, Hematite, Pyrite, Quartz, Spinel, Sunstone, Tremolite
  • Turkey Mountain – Diopside, Serpentine
  • Pompton Lakes – Agate, Amethyst, Barite, Calcite, Chalcedony, Cuprite, Datolite, Dolomite, Hematite, Opal, Prehnite, Quartz

The Top Public Gem Mining Locations in New Jersey

A kid curiously sifts through mine rough to find gems at the Hills Creek Farms

For children who are curious and interested in gems and how to search for them, here are some of the best family-friendly places to satisfy that curiosity.

New Jersey Gem Mining Laws And Regulations

New Jersey has laws and regulations governing the mining of precious minerals and stones, including gems. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) regulates the mining of these materials from public lands, including state parks and forests.

If you wish to mine on public lands here, you must obtain a permit from the NJDEP’s Mining Program. The permit application must include a map showing the proposed mining area and other information about the nature of the proposed activity. You are required to comply with certain safety and environmental standards, such as avoiding impacts on wildlife habitat and minimizing dust pollution, among other things.

In addition to obtaining a permit from the NJDEP, gem miners on public lands may also be required to obtain permission from local municipalities or other responsible parties.

For more information on the state’s gem mining laws and regulations, visit the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection link above.

Additional places to mine for gems in nearby states

Check out the guidelines we’ve created for our recommended areas to mine for gems in nearby states when you’ve already visited each of the places we named above:

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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