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Pick of the Week

Small sapphire tubs now available.

Monster Mine - 3 1/2 gallons of bulk sapphire gravel to mine from your own home.

Small Tub

Go Mining!

Purchase sapphire gravel to 'mine' sapphires from the comfort of your own home. Makes a great gift idea!


Does EVERYONE find sapphires?...

Dear Russ and Deb Thompson,
"Hello, this is Deana. My husband Clay, my girls and my obnoxious dog as well as myself were there this past Monday and Tuesday. I just thought I'd drop you a brief line to let you know that we found 20 sapphires totaling 38 carats, many of them 2 carats and over. We had a great time! I really enjoyed myself. Thanks you."  Deana

Q.Can you recommend a place to stay?

A. You can contact the state commerce department 1-800-visitmt or go to their link on our site at www.sapphiremine.com and request an accomodations guide and travel brochures.  Helena, the state capitol, is a ten mile drive.  Also check Helena Chamber of Commerce (1-406-442-4120). You have choices of motels, bed and breakfast, forest service cabins (US government in the phone book-1-406-449-5490) or campgrounds within 3 miles of the sapphire mine (state-Devil's Elbow, Clark's Bay; federal-Vigilante Campground, private-Lincoln Road RV, Helena Campground or Kim's Marina).

Q. I read that the mine opens on April 1st, what's the best time of the year to go?

A.  The Spokane Bar Sapphire Mine is open year around but the digging is no fun if the ground is still frozen.  April can be iffy - so call for weather updates.  You can see local temperature and forecasts on the local newspaper: www.helenair.com. Heaven in Montana starts after the 4th of July and continues through September. View photos of the mine (winter months vs. summer) under "Newsletters" or order sapphire gravel to mine at home at www.sapphiremine.com

(Click Photos to Enlarge)

Hi Mary,

Our dig option is $60, includes a 3 gallon concentrate plus one 5 gallon bucket you dig. Additional buckets can be dug for $10 each. Tools available for you to use. We go with you to explain the process and train you, then you complete the process and bring your finished bucket to the office to wash. We show you how to do that as well. We also offer a day field trip to the El Dorado. It costs $300 per person for 5 buckets you dig. That mine has a better vield for valuable sapphires, potentially. We supply the tools. You need an extra day to process the material or you can bring your own buckets to take it home. Shipping it home is another option UPS, though it can cost.



Hi Deb,

Thanks for putting the pic of our nieces and nephews on your testimonials page!

As an introduction to the kids, I had put together this graphic.

Chris Czernel

February 12, 2009


Hello Ms. Thompson,

I showed up back in the first week of December and bought two bags to “go” and dug one bucket of my own from the top of the hill. Then bin January we ordered 4 bags, 2 each from Spokane Bar and 2 each from El Dorado and did all our mining at home. The 7.2 carat came from the bucket along with a bunch of small BB’s – most of the green rough came from the ElDorado bags and the other colors came from the Sapphire Bar. El Dorado stones were larger, Sapphire Bar stones prettier.

In that picture there are 8 rows of 11 each and then there are approximately 15 or so garnets at the bottom. We also picked out a bag of “B-B’s” as I called them, there were 125 small ones in there of quite a few colors, mostly blue and green with a few pinks, and a couple that are yellow.

So from 6 bags and one hand dug bucket we “mined” approximately 88 Sapphires with the largest being a green 7.2 carat rough – the total carat weight for all of the sapphires excluding the bag of BB’s was 110 carats in the rough – the 125 BB’s of which a good portion can be faceted had a carat weight of 20.

February 2, 2009


Hi Deb,

We ordered a monster mine bag and made some light tables for our nieces and nephews to have a Christmas Gem Hunting party. The kids had a terrific time, the adults had a great time too, and everyone had some great finds! Please find attached a picture of the kids with their gems.

My wife and I just wanted to drop a note of thanks to Spokanne Bar Sapphire Mine for enabling such wonderful memories with our family. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Chris and Pam Czernel

January 2, 2009


I got a box of rocks a few months ago and found some stones and i'm not sure what they are. I have since lost the coupon, so i was trying to find out the cost and procedures for sending them to your for identification. I see the brochure but wasn't sure if that was only for faceting. Could you tell me how i get them to you to see if i have any treasures?

I had so much fun going through the rocks, it was so exciting and my sister and i screamed like teenagers. I can't wait to get another box...i'm hooked!

Holly Delacroix
Austin, TX

Hey Deb,

I just recently got my stones back from Rocky and I have a lot of nice ones in there.
I showed them to a jeweler friend of mine and he said that I have
1- Rhodolite Garnet, 48 facets, .60 carrots oval
1- Pyrope garnet, 46 facets, .27 carrots square
1-pyrope garnet, 45 facets, .45 carrots oval
1- padparadscha (orange) Sapphire, 52 facets, .062 carrots round
1- Dark Pink Sapphire 64 facets, .222 carrots round
1- Bicolor lt yellow surrounding included dark yellow Sapphire, 68+ facets, .81 carrots ,round


1- Lt. Teal Green Sapphire, 49 facets, .40 carrots oval
1- Ceylon sapphire, 48 facets, .23 carrots, oval
1-Aqua Blue Sapphire, 54 facets, .147 carrots oval
1- Flawless Lime Green Sapphire, 68 facets, .18 carrots, oval
1- Bicolor faded aqua blue and yellow, 48 facets, .107 carrots


Plus many more smaller ones of varying colors ranging from dark blue to yellow to white or clear. All different cuts, and shapes.
Do you know of any resources that would be interested in purchasing them.
Attached are some pictures of what I've got. hope that they will show how pretty they are.

This was all found at your mine. pretty cool.

Let me know what you can find out for me.

Sue Raimann
April 28, 2008


Hello Spokane Bar folks!

Well, I made it through my El Dorado bag ... some interesting finds.  I'm attaching pictures, but will also be sending my goodies to Deb to have her take a look over, as I suspect some of what I saved is probably just quartz or something else (plus me not knowing what I'm looking at half the time!).  In any case, there were several good sized sapphires ... and some just plain pretty rocks :)

Austin TX
June 29, 2007


Hi Deb,

I thought I should share a picture of my best sapphire I found out of my Cactus Hill bag. The 2.4ct unheated rough finished at 0.85ct 7mmX5mm oval. I looked at the light blue sapphire under a 30 power microscope and found it to be flawless!  This is the best gem I have found yet.

Best regards,
March 13, 2007

By chance, my parents were in So. Cal visiting my wife and I over the past few days. We showed them the pictures and even had about 2 cups of rough gravel that we wanted to check out with them present. We showed them how it is all done and yes, we did find a sapphire in those last 2 cups! They thought it was great and they plan on ordering some gravel for the grandkids when they get back to Michigan.

We look forward to going through the faceting process with Rocky, and getting our next gravel bag soon.
Chris and Pam Czernel
March 11, 2007

Hi Deb,

I'd be happy to share my photos with what ever you wanted to do with them. I think (eventhough, they are not cut, and all), they look great. Maybe I willget request, out there in LA, for some ofmy jewles, just kidding..................but it is different.Here are a few more pictures. I love going threw the monster mines.............I never know what I will find...........its always an adventure.
SAPPHIRES................I have madetwo broches, a ring and earings, from my uncut sapphires. Ithink they look quite amazing. See photos.the pohots.
Thanks so much.......I know they are not all fancy (cut), but I like them as they are.
Marsha Snyder
February 28, 2007



Thanks Deb

I really appreciate you grading my sapphires for me, and sending them back so quickly! Now I really have a better idea of what to look for. I will be sending the good ones to be faceted after I go through this 2nd bag of gravel I am working on. I found a huge blood red garnet today, it was in my free Winter Garnet gravel that I received with my last Sapphire gravel order..and I know that it is going to be beautiful faceted. I'm addicted to home mining! lol
Thanks again!
January 22, 2007


Deb...Such wonderful comments about this ring!! I wanted the mount to be simple yet elegant. I can't tell you how much I enjoy wearing it and knowing that its from the Mine and I found it and followed through to its completion.

As I said before..The stone was found at the Spokane as a 7ct.+ piece of rough.(People can see earlier pictures of the rough under "Testimonials"). It was sent to Elliott Sher at Shergems, heat treated in the U.S. and sent for faceting in Thailand.

The finished stone weighs 4.45 carats oval cut, a pleasing medium blue in a white gold men's setting. It is bezel mounted to reduce exposure to the stone through daily use.

I don't know if other people have attempted to have their finds appraised. You have to find someone competent who is willing to do this procedure. A jeweler I talked with said there is no test for sapphire!! All I can say is take plenty of pictures of your finds!! Document when you found them and where. Build a true history of your gem finds. This is especially true if your thinking of selling your finished gems!

Deb...I've again bent your ear...Yet I believe its important for us long-distance miners to enjoy our passion to the fullest. Be well.

Nick George  My2ndheart@aol.com
April 2005


Deb, We just wanted you to know the sapphires in our photo range from a 6.5carrot weight to a 2.0.  You can easily spot the 6.5 in the photo.   We also enclosed a photo of outsorting table set up in our garage.  It’s designed especially forscreening and sorting gems.   Hopefully it will inspire others imaginations…  Just got our 4th bag the other day… we’ll keep our fingers crossed. 

Cort and Becky, cr.carrington@sbcglobal.net
Abilene Texas (formerly from Great Falls)
March 25, 2005


Hi Deb....I hope this email finds you well..... I am sending you the pix I sent back in Oct.2004 if you want to use them you are welcome to....These are finished gems from Elliot Essher and are from the Spokane.. and in the case of the large blue sapphire with the dime, The Eldorado. The sapphire faceted out to 4.45Cts. I've already had it set into a white gold man's ring...Lots of good comments and great advertisement for the Spokane. The garnets are gorgeous as you can see. They go from 4 carats on down...ovals, pears, marquis and rounds!!

Nick George - MY2NDHEART@aol.com
March 2005

I have gone thru about 2/3 of my last monster mine bag and couldn't wait until the end of searching to show you what i have found. I was pleased with the nice varieies of colors including some nice red, blue and peach colored ones I was finding in this bag but my eyes popped when i saw this huge stone sitting in the middle of my "light box" (a small table lamp in a metal waste basket with an old cake plate on top). as you can see, it is larger than the dime and quite thick. My amateur estimate of size is at least 25-30 carets. it is hard to see it well in the photos. off the light it is a light purple/amethyst color. i cannot wait until i have it processed! 
[ Additional pictures:  1, 2 ]

Jo Tetherow, Rochester, NY - Longbraid2@aol.com
February 2005

Hi Deb...I thought you'd like to see cooked and faceted sapphires from the Mine...This was the result of our findings since about 6 months ago. It takes a while to get the rough cooked and then faceted. After seeing these as the "fruits of our mining" experiences, it is well worth it! These stones range in carat weight from .25 to less than .05carat. There are blue, green, yellow and pink represented. Nature is sure wonderfully represented at The Spokane.

Our next faceting order should be back in August or September. Many of those gems will be from the Eldorado. I can't wait to see them because we sent some larger rough of gem quality. I put the dime in again as a reference to give a better idea of what to expect the finished stones to look like. They also did a great job on the garnets we included. What struck me is how small a stone can be faceted!! Essher and Company sure does a great job.

I want to thank you and "The Gang" for giving us the opportunity to experience the thrill of mining sapphires no matter where we are...even in the Florida wetlands!!Many of these treasures will find there way into jewelry settings so others may enjoy the Spokane and Eldorado gems. Obviously I look forward to more mining opportunities  in the future. Thank you again.

Nick George, My2ndheart@aol.com
May 2004

Thank you I had a good time going through the gravel.  So did everyone that came along and saw what I was doing. Thanks.

Paul Edwards, Paulgoldfinners@aol.com
May 2004

Here are stones from both the El Dorado and Spokane mines.  The big, light blue, is just under1.5 carats.   I think it is destined for a pendant. The light yellow is 54 points, and the dark yellow (almost a Padh, a little too yellow) is 15 points.  The dark one in the front is an interesting 1/2 carat tricolor.  I couldn't capture the beauty of it, unfortunately.  It is evenly divided, on a diagonal, with blue, yellow in the middle, and then green.   Elliot Sher cut all of these (along with about 140 others from the bags), all the way from 5 points  up to 1.5 carats.  A superb job. The first time we went to the mine, we found a beautiful blue that cut to 40 points, which a good friend now has in her engagement ring.  Finally, that marquis cut is about 1 shade off from being a ruby.  We found one a touch darker that our local jeweler still is undecided whether to call it a ruby or a very dark pink sapphire.  Thanks for all the fun diggings.

Doug Thomas, PHREDLESS@aol.com
May 2004

We ordered a Monster mine just before Christmas and divied it up so everyone could try their hand.  Needless to say it was great fun! We found over a hundred sapphires and several were of a respectable size. I sent them off to be faceted and they turned out beautiful. I will be ordering more definitely.

Lee Hamill, lenice@epsi.net
April 2004

I updated my web site :  http://www.huntforgems.com/sapphiremt.html   I have to say WOW I just finished going through the El Dorado Sapphire gravel bag #2 the second time, this time with the light box and wow I found 130 more Sapphires. For a total of 153 Sapphires from that bag. I had a great time doing this and seeing what I missed with out the light box. So people all ways go through your dirt more then once.  Here is a picture of them.

Warm Regards,
Carl Mauritz
March 2004

I ordered some gravel from you and I must say I had a blast going through it all. I found one really nice sized cornflower blue sapphire. I can't find the paperwork that came with my order so I am hoping that you can tell me what I can do with this marvelous find. I went to your testimonials and the one under M. George looks to be just a tad smaller than the one that I found. If you could please either give me the information again by email or tell me where I could get it cut and about what it might cost, I sure would appreciate it. Thanks and be looking for another order from me in the near future.

Karen Brady, kobrady@frontiernet.net
February 2004

I have ordered three bags and three elf boxes and have been totally delighted. My daughter and her friends are now hooked as well. I think it's a great price for the hours of fun it is for all of us. We think we have had good success and I will forward you some pictures soon.  We will be ordering again !!!!!

Barbara Cady, Rrrinkrat@hotmail.com
January 2004

Happy Holidays to you all. I've gone through my gravel the first time and found 71 Sapphires from the El Dorado gravel and 18 Sapphires from your gravel. I'm building a light box to go through the gravels again to see what I have missed. I also ordered 3 more gravel bags of the El Dorado Sapphires in hopes of finding a nice facet-able one. I'll send pictures when I'm done. You can view my report on the gravels at my web site.

Carl Mauritz,
December 2003

I thought ya'll would like to see some pictures of some of the larger sapphires and garnets I've found in my monster mines and e-monster mines.  Several are over a carat or two.  I haven't had any of them appraised or faceted, but I imagine some are worth some decent $$$.

Justin Pfrehm
December 2003


Deb, I thought you might like to see the first 2 hours work. The dark one is 10mm x 5mm and has violet tint. The long blue on is 10mm x 4mm We also have 60crts being processed from the first 2 bags. Stay warm, they say that storm is going to hit us tonight.

My daughter who is 9 went through the Elf Bag this morning. This is the result largest 5mm x 2mm. Total 7 sapphires 11 garnets.I was also noticing that so far we have just found 5 pieces of garnet 2 nice ones, but we are looking for sapphires. If more nice ones are found I will send pics. Hope to get another bag after the New Year.

John & Josette Crawford
December 2003

I have ordered several times from you and I am SOOOO hooked.  I don't know the sizes of these stones but as you can see, there are more than half that I believe are at least 1 carat or larger. I cannot believe the fun and the excitement.

I have included some pics for you to show on the site if you care to. Thanks for the adventure,

Marsha Watson
December 2003

Deb.....I thought you'd like to see what came from the first El-Dorado shipment. The largest stone fits over the head on a dime( 7.9 carats rough - cornflower blue)....The rest of the rough is comparable to shipments from the Spokane in size and number. My overall impression is to order another E-Mine and give it another try. The second picture is with the larger sapphire amongst the total find from the E-Mine......Thinking positive. Nick George


Dear Deb,
We received our sack of sapphire gravel and went to work on it right away.  As near as I can tell we went through the sack three times and found many promising stones to cut for jewelry.  We had more fun than a barrel of monkeys.  Thanks again and we will probably be ordering another bag here shortly.   Here is a picture of what we found.

The Kings

Dear Russ and Deb Thompson,
We thought we'd share our sapphire find with you. These are only a few of what we found in the last order of gravel we received. Thanks for all the excitement.

Jim and Kathy Cavins


Dear Deb,  I just wanted to report to you that I finally got around to sorting my second 3.5 gallon sapphire gravel.  I feel like a pro now. I carefully washed and examined with two sets of eyes and found more in this bag than the first. I found 18 sapphires and 4 garnets in the first bag. This bag netted at least:

14 green sapphires
19 light blue to light purple sapphires
16 garnets
34 maybes  (the experts will have to look at these, I suspect they are quartz)

One of the green ones is a really nice size and very clear. My second set of eyes found that one. He is a ten year old boy named Joel. He was so excited.  I think he is hooked! He is going to have it cut, mounted and then give it to his mom. How sweet.

The garnets this time were better looking, but still a little on the small side. I'll order some more gravel in a little while. Thanks for the fun and keep up the good work!

Dan Bovinich, Rochester Hills, Michigan
August 2003

Hi Deb,  Just a quick note to let you know that the Monster mine we purchased from you guys has really paid off!....  Here is the news of our haul: the Ruby came in at 3.79 Carats and is going for faceting here in Edmonton. We also have found 43.12 carats of gem quality sapphires so far ranging from 0.23 on up to 0.83 carats. We have four that are well over the carat, one is almost 4 carats but it is cracked and the others are a little cloudy.

Also, there are a number of smaller rubies that total out at 6.51 carats. Plus, (and this is the kicker) there is a 0.93 carat totally clear stone that everyone is confident is an actual diamond in the rough.So Deb, without showing too much enthusiasm, I can tell you that we not only had a blast when we came to your place, we keep on having it each night when we got home as we panned the balance out and it sure paid dividends. I still cannot believe that all of this came out of that single 3 1/2 Gallon pail. Truly astounding!!!!If you need any kind of testimonial, I will add this for you. I have just moments ago returned from our Favorite Jewel Store and showed them to the guys there. We have dealt with them for over 30 years and trust their judgment. They are sure that some of the clear stones are in fact diamonds. They are absolutely sure that the 3.79 Ruby is indeed a Ruby. They scoped it and did what they do to check and said that it passed all the tests as being a Ruby.If you require a shorter, more to the point Testimonial, just ask and it will be done. Donna and I had a great time and I am here to tell you that we will be back and have actually been asked to pick up a bag or two for some friends. Hunting season will keep me here also, when the Elk are in Rut and the Moose are also, I am in the woods calling and doing my "guy thing," as the wife calls it.......being one with the trees!

See you soon.  Ron & Donna Arnold
Edmonton, Alberta
August 2003

Hi guys, Thanks for all  the fun.  Attached is a picture or my recent monster mine find and I split it with a friend; half each.

Lyman, NH
J. Wilcox, jeffwonder@earthlink.net

Hi Deb n Russ,  This is Great, I recently had the good fortune of splitting a monster mine with my friend Jeff Wilcox. I had the best time going through them, finding several sapphires plus lots of other cool things. Here is a pix of what I have found so far.

To see more pictures go to:  http://community.webtv.net/kukinitup4u/Searching4Sapphires 

Lucky searching.......John Smith
Sugar Hill, N.H.
August 9, 2003

Hi Deb,  We are enjoying the monster mines - we are waiting for our 3rd bag to arrive!  We didn't know exactly what to look for at first (as most do not I am sure)  but when the first blue sapphire appeared we were hooked!  We are planning a trip to Montana - all the way from Massachusetts-  to do some digging this fall. Here are just a few gems and fossils that we found.  We will happily share stories if anyone wants to email us.

Thanks again!
Pat & Ellen, allerton_framing@comcast.net
July 2003

I'm hooked!!!  I've just ordered my second Monster Mine and I can hardly wait until it arrives!!!  You had me when I saw that first, beautiful gleaming blue stone staring up at me from my table.  From that moment on all I could think about was sifting through my rocks!  My friends all thought I was crazy when I told them that I had ordered my husband a bag of rocks for his birthday, that is until I showed them the results of our labors!  It was so much fun and so exciting!  Almost every scoop of rocks that I sorted through had something in it!  Many had two or three stones, and some of them are extraordinarily beautiful!  I can't wait to get them faceted but I don't want to part with them just yet... I'm going to try scanning them this weekend so that I can send you a picture of my loot!  If there's anyone out there who's debating on whether to order or not, I say do not hesitate!  The Monster Mine was was everything that I hoped it would be and soooo much more!  Anyone who wants to write to me about it is more than welcome to!  My address is giarcima@yahoo.com

Tami Harris,
July 30, 2003

Dear Russ and Deb Thompson,
Hello, this is Deana. My husband Clay, my girls and my obnoxious dog as well as myself were there this past Monday and Tuesday. I just thought I'd drop you a brief line to let you know that we found 20 sapphires totaling 38 carats, many of them 2 carats and over. We had a great time! I really enjoyed myself. Thanks you. My husband just said to tell you also, he appreciated the guy who concentrated the gravel for us, he really was very nice and very informative. We just found the trip all around great and I thought I'd let you know that. Have a good evening. 


The first Monster Mine was so enjoyable, I'm ordering a second!  It's hard to stop with just one. For a "rockhound", it's better than potato chips!  One other good thing that makes it better than the potato chips is "no calories!" Take care and thanks.

Brenda Earhart