Have you ever wondered how do we find exquisite gemstones? How are we sure if a piece of land will yield gemstones? What are the planning and processes that go into gem mining?

Miner holding gold nugget, point focus on the gemstone. Mineral exploration concept, Minnesota, United States

Now, mining is carried out by private miners or the government. Mining can be a very costly process. Therefore, it is not everybody’s cup of tea. One needs a workforce, good equipment, and strong knowledge to get the best results. Otherwise, the chances of failure are higher than success.

Gem mining is the extraction of valuable minerals from the earth through various techniques and tools.


The most important step is to identify the gem deposits. Mining without certainty is just like finding a needle in a haystack. The second step is choosing the mining process. There are four types of mining.

  1. Underground Mining
  2. Open Surface Mining
  3. Placer Mining
  4. In situ mining

The mining method entirely depends on two factors. First, the percentage of gems you will get after the mining. And second, the amount of resources one has to get the job done.

So let us get started with each of them.


This is a type of mining in which the rocks and soil covering the minerals is removed. Gemstones are taken out through shafts or tunnels.

However, it does not require much digging. In surface mining, the gems are easier to extract because it is close to the earth’s surface. In most surface mining, earthmovers are used to remove unwanted deposits.

It is only used in areas with no vegetation or where the land is of no use. It is the most preferred method of mining gemstones. About 70% of mining is surface mining.

There are further subtypes of surface mining.

  • Strip mining. This is the most basic form of mining. And in this method, the minerals are extracted by removing the deposits on the surface.
  • Open pit mining. This is a method where gems are extracted by forming a large open pit. This method is preferred when the surface material covering the valuable material is very thin.
  • Mountain top removal mining. This method involves mining the summit or the long top edge of the mountain. Because it cannot be done using simple machinery, this type of mining is less expensive but dangerous.
  • Dredging. This method is used for mining gemstones underwater. Extraction of minerals underwater is an efficient and cheap way to get valuable stones.
  • High wall mining. In this process, stones are extracted using machines and a hydraulic push mechanism. In this method, a machine penetrates the earth’s surface for extraction, using water pumping. The technique is very advanced, and so is the cost.


Underground mining is carried out when surface mining fails. In this type of mining, miners construct underground chambers for extraction. This type of mining is often used when rocks or minerals are on the side of the mountain.

  • Slope mining. When minerals are deep and parallel to the ground, this type of mining is called slope or shaft mining. It requires making a tunnel for workers to travel up and down from the mining area.
  • Shrinkage stopping. This is another method of mining for narrow ore bodies. It requires no backfilling during the stoppage.
  • Long wall mining. This form of mining includes multiple shearers mounted on advanced hydraulic ceiling support.
  • Retreat missing. It is also called room and pillar mining. It uses pillars for support. Here, workers start working from the back to the front.


Now you have insight into common mining methods. With this knowledge you now know how some of your favorite gemstones are extracted.

Learn more about gem mining in our Education Center!

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