UpFront

Colombian-Quality Emeralds Found in the United States Emeralds that rival the finest Colombian Muzos may soon be emerging from the mountains of North Carolina. In a stunning development, abundant high-quality emeralds have been discovered in an abandoned mine in the tiny hamlet of Hiddenite, about 70 miles north of Charlotte. “I was digging away and opened this pocket, measuring about 8 feet deep, 2 feet wide, and 18 inches tall,” recalls James Hill, 35, a prospector whose family owns the mine. “It was pitch black in there so I took out my cigarette lighter, stuck my hand back in, and when I lit up the hole, I saw thousands of green crystals. When I saw them, I knew they were emeralds.” And not just any emeralds. “They’re crystal clear,” says Hill, who had his high opinion of the find confirmed by visiting gemologists. Among them was mineralogist Chris Tacker of the N
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