Home | About Me | Jewelry Designs | Gemstones | Mineral Specimens | Mine Info | Orders | FAQs | Contact | Links


Digging for Sapphire at El Dorado Bar Near Helena, Montana


Jigging the size-classified gravel to concentrate the sapphire, garnet and other heavy minerals toward the bottom center of the boxed screen.

Digging and screening the sapphire-bearing gravel to remove the over-sized rock and under-sized sand: El Dorado Bar, Montana

Many of the Montana sapphire fields have been open to amateur collectors on a fee basis. El Dorado Bar is an ancient gravel bar lying above the Missouri River not far from Helena, Montana. To find sapphires at this location the collector first screens the gravel to remove over-sized and under-sized materials (Most sapphires at this site are larger than one-sixteenth of an inch, and smaller than one-quarter of an inch in diameter). The screened gravel is then moved to a suitable water source where a heavy concentrate is made by either mechanical or hand jigging. The jigged concentrate is then hand sorted in the hope of finding gem sapphire.

Note: As of 6/2012, El Dorado Bar was not open to fee-based sapphire mining.