Hiddenite remains an extremely small, rugged, and also unincorporated community and the census-designated area located in east-central Alexander County, North Carolina. It forms part of the Hickory–Lenoir–Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area. The area represents an absolutely inexplicable marvel of geology. That occurs because the rugged terrain conceals a unique nature virtually unknown to most individuals outside of the local area. Hiddenite bears the name of William Earl Hidden (1853–1918). He served as a mineralogist sent to North Carolina by Thomas Edison to look for platinum.
The Area of Hiddenite
Hidden discovered the gem that came to be known as “Hiddenite” in 1879 in mines nearby. Hiddenite constitutes a variety of spodumene and also the ONLY precious gemstone that cannot be synthesized by artificial means. The area around Hiddenite also yields an absolutely unparalleled total of 63 different types of precious and semi-precious gemstones! All of this incredible geological variety sits in the tiny area, which comprises an area of only 1.6 sq. mi (4.1 sq. km) of land. The area sits at an altitude of approximately 1,160 ft. (350 m) above sea level. The location also forms the site of the only emerald mine in the United States that opens to the public for prospecting. For a fee, individuals choose to sluice in the stream or undertake the arduous task of digging in one of the mining locations (like I did ).
Any and all stones found also stay with the individual. Locating smaller samples of such stones as garnet, amethyst, or aquamarine (to name only a few) occurs commonly. Several times per year, emeralds valued in excess of $50,000 become unearthed. The unearthing samples of the unique stone Hiddenite happens less frequently, sometimes taking several days of searching. However, it does occur. In recent decades, individuals discovered forms of spodumene extremely close to Hiddenite in their atomic structure in other locations around the world. Experts point out, however, that there remains a very slight difference between those stones and “true” Hiddenite. To date, there remains no scientific explanation as to why this one incredibly small section of the earth’s surface produces both such an unmatched variety of stones, and the one utterly unique stone: Hiddenite.