Sapphire mining is one of the most popular attractions in the Philipsburg area, offering the singular experience of digging and sifting through gravel in search of rare, fine gems. Sapphires were first mined in the Rock Creek deposit about 1892; since then Montanans and visitors from all corners of the country have enjoyed mining gemstones for fine jewelry.
Rock Creek sapphires are found in gravel deposits in the Sapphire Mountains, but only in specific areas, known as pay layers (sapphire-bearing gravel). The pay layer lies below the top soil and above the bedrock, all of which vary in depth in any specific deposit. Sapphire gravel is washed or screened to remove clay and large rocks, after which the gem gravel is made available to you, the sapphire miner.
Of the four Montana sapphire regions, Rock Creek sapphires display distinctly crisp and sharp colors, with a character and beauty all their own, ranging from the classic cornflower blue to red-orange and mint green. The sapphires found and finished here fill a niche worldwide. Sapphire mining is available year-round in Philipsburg at The Sapphire Gallery, Opal Mountain Gems, and Gem Mountain. Join us for a different kind of hunt -- the hunt for rare treasures!