Smoky Mountain CDJR - 7/12/2022

If you like studying gems, rocks, and minerals, exploring the Gem and Mineral Society in Franklin, North Carolina — considered the Gem Capital of the World — may be your next vacation plan. The museum hosts one of the largest collections of gems and minerals in the Southeast, making it a notable stop for any traveler or gem enthusiast. It features a gift shop where you can commemorate your visit with a gem for yourself or one for someone else. Looking for precious gems? The Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum features a high-end jewelry shop where you can see cut and refined editions of the stones you just toured. 

About the Gem and Mineral Museum

purple red and white gems in franklin, north carolina

The Gem and Mineral Museum was established in 1974. The rich hills and mountains in the surrounding area contain gems and precious stones — from quartz to ruby to amethyst — which makes Franklin an ideal location for this fascinating museum. 

The Gem and Mineral Museum began as a small collection belonging to members of the Franklin Gem and Mineral Society. Once this collection became substantial, the Society requested that the County Commission open a museum. The purpose of this museum was to educate and showcase the rock specimens of that area, which continues to be the mission of the museum today. In 1973, the Society was given permission to convert Franklin's old jailhouse building on city property into a museum.

After renovation through over 2,000 combined hours of volunteer work from local citizens and club members, the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum opened its doors to the public. The grand opening had great success with over 200 people in attendance. After only five months, the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum had seen over 5,000 guests through its doors. In another five months, over 3,000 people from the U.S. and around the world had visited the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum.

The Gem and Mineral Museum’s Mission

The mission of the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum is to educate and garner interest in rocks, precious gems, and minerals. The facility helps teach people about how gems are processed to create jewelry. The museum works closely in association with the Franklin Gem and Mineral Society whose members consist of enthusiasts who enjoy the process, history, and refinement of precious stones.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you interested in visiting the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum? Below, we have some frequently asked questions for guests who want to tour and learn from The Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum:

Are there group tours at the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum?

The Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum is open to group tours, big and small. They encourage visitors to come in groups for guided tours through the museum’s eight rooms. For groups of 10 or more, guests may need to book an appointment with the museum for the best experience. The museum also offers guided tours for schools. Demonstrations within classrooms are also available for local schools. If you want to schedule a group tour or classroom presentation, visit the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum website for contact information and scheduling.

What are the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum’s hours of operation?

The Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum is open Monday through Saturday. Hours of operation are typically from noon to 4 p.m. The museum operates seasonally, open during the summer and fall, from May 1 to October 31. During the winter months, the hours are different. Winter operation hours are from November 1 to April 30, from noon to 4 p.m on Saturdays only. Because the museum staff consists of volunteer club members, hours may change periodically.

How much does it cost to go to the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum?

The Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum is a nonprofit organization designed to educate and entertain. Because of this, entrance into the museum is completely free. The museum relies on the donations of visitors. If you would like to donate to keep the museum funded, consider purchasing from the museum’s gift shop. Hosts are always available not only to give tours of the entire museum but also to accept donations at any time.

How do you become a Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum member?

Thinking about becoming a member of the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum club? Becoming a member is easy. You can join by simply speaking to an employee or club member while touring the museum. They’ll be happy to tell you more about the process, what you can do to help the museum, and how you can contribute to the education of visitors. You can join by filling out an application and paying a small, one-time club member donation fee.

If you live in the Franklin area, consider joining the club meetings with the museum’s staff. Meetings are held in the Robert C. Carpenter Community Building at 1228 Georgia Highway 441 S. in Franklin, North Carolina. Meetings are every last Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m.

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Photo by Dan Farrell