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Where to Find Star Garnets in Idaho

Where to Find Star Garnets in Idaho

Idaho, often referred to as the “Gem State,” is famous for its abundance of natural resources, including minerals and gemstones. One of the most coveted gemstones found in Idaho is the star garnet. These unique and mesmerizing gems are known for their distinct asterism, which creates a stunning star-shaped pattern when light reflects off them. If you are an avid gemstone collector or simply interested in exploring Idaho’s natural wonders, this article will guide you on where to find star garnets in Idaho.

1. Emerald Creek Garnet Area:
Located in the Panhandle National Forests, the Emerald Creek Garnet Area is a popular destination for gemstone enthusiasts. This designated digging area allows visitors to mine for star garnets using hand tools such as shovels, screens, and buckets. You can rent equipment on-site or bring your own. The best time to visit is during the summer months when the Emerald Creek area is accessible.

2. St. Joe River:
The St. Joe River, located in northern Idaho, is another prime location to search for star garnets. The river’s gravel and sandbars contain these precious gemstones, and many visitors have found remarkable specimens here. You can sift through the river’s sediments using a gold pan or a screen to separate the garnets from other debris. Access to the St. Joe River is relatively easy, making it a convenient spot for gemstone hunting.

3. Bruneau Canyon:
Bruneau Canyon, situated in southwestern Idaho, is home to the Bruneau Jasper, a unique gemstone often found alongside star garnets. This area offers a more challenging excavation experience, as the garnets are embedded in solid rock formations. However, the rewards can be significant, as the Bruneau Canyon is known for producing high-quality star garnets. It is advisable to bring rock hammers, chisels, and safety gear if you plan to explore this location.

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4. Alder Creek Mining District:
The Alder Creek Mining District, located in central Idaho, has a long history of garnet mining. Although commercial mining is no longer active, visitors are still permitted to search for star garnets here. The district’s vast area offers various locations to explore, and with some patience and persistence, you might uncover an exquisite star garnet. It is essential to obtain the necessary permits and follow any regulations when visiting this area.

5. Rock and Gem Shows:
If you are not inclined to venture into the wilderness, you can still find star garnets in Idaho by attending rock and gem shows. These shows often feature vendors and dealers who specialize in Idaho gemstones and minerals, including star garnets. Here, you can browse through a wide selection of polished and rough garnets, including star garnets, and purchase them directly from the sellers.


Q: How rare are star garnets?
A: Star garnets are relatively rare compared to other garnet varieties. They are mainly found in Idaho, India, and Sri Lanka, making them highly sought after by collectors worldwide.

Q: How are star garnets formed?
A: Star garnets form in metamorphic rocks under intense pressure and heat. The unique star-shaped pattern occurs due to inclusions of rutile, a mineral that aligns in a specific orientation within the garnet crystal.

Q: Are star garnets valuable?
A: Star garnets can be valuable, especially if they exhibit a defined star and have good color and clarity. The value of a star garnet depends on factors such as size, color, quality of the star, and market demand.

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Q: Can I sell star garnets I find in Idaho?
A: Yes, you can sell the star garnets you find in Idaho. However, it is crucial to comply with any local regulations and obtain the necessary permits if you plan to sell them commercially.

Q: Are there any other gemstones to look for in Idaho?
A: Yes, Idaho is known for its abundant gemstone deposits. Some other gemstones to look for include opals, jasper, garnets, agates, and sapphires.

In conclusion, Idaho offers a treasure trove of star garnets for gemstone enthusiasts to discover. Whether you choose to explore the wilderness or attend rock and gem shows, the thrill of finding a star garnet is an experience like no other. Remember to follow any regulations, obtain necessary permits, and respect the environment when venturing out to find these mesmerizing gems. Happy hunting!

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