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Crystals are hidden gems of Oglethorpe County

Ron Brown, who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, often digs for crystals in Oglethorpe County. He has led private digs the past two years at an undisclosed location in the county. (Submitted Photo)

The following story is reprinted with permission from The Oglethorpe Echo

By Sara Micale

Oglethorpe County is home to many hidden gems. Literally.

There are veins of crystals, including clear quartz and amethyst, beneath the ground, and for some, digging up these crystals has become a satisfying hobby. 

Among them is Ron Brown, who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, but digs in Oglethorpe County. 

“About four years ago, my mother purchased a larger piece of property in Oglethorpe County, but she discovered that property is very rocky,” Brown said. “She wanted to plant some things in the ground and was unable to, and upon further inspection, realized that there were quartz crystals literally all over the property.”

Brown has thousands of crystals, including clear quartz points and clusters, milky quartz points, feldspar included crystal, amethyst and quartz with hematite inclusions that give the normally clear crystal a red hue. 

Ron Brown holds a quartz cluster, which is a prevalent crystal in the area. (Submitted photo)

“I’ve been very successful,” he said. “You can’t take two steps and do a little bit of digging, maybe some surface collecting, without finding crystals.”

Brown not only digs alone and with his children, but he has hosted two private digs the past two years at an undisclosed location in Oglethorpe County. 

Less than 10 people were invited by Brown to dig for crystals, which included digging two 100-yard trenches with a 7,500-pound excavator, ultimately discovering a network of crystal veins. 

Crystals are so prevalent on Brown’s property that people of different ages and abilities can discover specimens, even without excavation.

“When I go out with the kids, they love the surface collecting,” he said. “(They) get down on their knees and pick up whatever happens to be on the surface, especially after a good rain.” 

Oglethorpe County is in Georgia’s Piedmont region, which borders on the Blue Ridge Mountains and ends at the fall line, separating “the crystalline rocks of the Piedmont from the sedimentary rocks of the Atlantic Coastal Plain,” according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia

It has become known as a hotspot for crystal mining, with the discovery of the largest cluster found in Georgiabeing dug up by Chester Karwoski and David Smith in Stephens in 1994. 

That cluster, known as the Muscadines of Oglethorpe, is displayed at Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, Georgia. 

Bryan Major, dubbed “The Crystal Collector” on social media who has contributed several pieces to the Tellus Museum, worked with Brown in March.

“It is a pretty special thing,” he said.

 Major has extensive knowledge of crystals, after picking up mining as a gig. He has 646,000 subscribers on YouTube and 654,000 followers on Instagram.

Brown said he was never interested in crystal mining until his mother purchased the property. He subsequently joined Facebook groups and found others interested in the hobby. 

Brown plans to continue to build his collection and to submit gems to the Georgia Museum of Natural History, which is located at UGA, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

“It’s extremely encouraging,” he said. “I’m finding some very awesome pieces, and I’m building my collection.” 

Brown’s advice for those interested in getting involved in crystal hunting is to seek out others, like he did, and “get your hands dirty.”

“I enjoy meeting like-minded people,” he said. “I believe that people that are interested in finding crystals have a little bit of a higher calling and they actually enjoy our planet and discovering certain aspects of it.”

Sarah Coyne contributed to this article.

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