How to Find These Glowing Gemstones in New York Rivers
There are treasures hiding right under our feet here in New York, many that are free for the taking.
Gemstones range from famous diamonds and rubies to the lesser-known amethysts and opals. Many are beautifully-colored, and all have been created over a dizzying amount of years deep under the earth's surface. One particular gemstone, however, could be waiting for you in upstate New York, where the water meets the beach.
Agate Gemstones in New York State
The transfixing gemstones hiding on New York riverbanks (as well as the shores of our Great Lakes) are known as agates. These stones, when polished, give off a deep internal glow that has made them the target of rock hunters across the country.
Where to Find Agates
I first learned of these special specimens on a trip with my wife and her family (agate experts, by the way), where the stones can be found on select beaches in northern California after currents carry them down from the Oregon coast. One of the only other places to find them in the United States is here in New York.
How to Identify an Agate
A keen eye is key when searching for agates, as stones known as "fool's agates" can easily lead an amateur hunter astray. One trick to rely on is to look for the abovementioned glow. While it may be hard to tell if a rock you find is "glowing", once you see the real thing (below) it will be easy to tell the real agates from the imposters. Here's where to find them in New York.
Where to Find Agates in New York
For agate hopefuls, the Genesee river in Western New York could be a great place to start, specifically closer to where the river meets Lake Ontario. Rock hunters in-the-know suggest a riverbank in Rochester, NY located here. Lake Ontario itself is also an agate hotbed, with self-described "rockhounds" finding a wide variety of the stones (below).
What are Agates?
Agates are a special gemstone that have been used in jewelry for millennia, and have a transfixing glow. Found in almost every color, geologists believe the beautiful stones are formed by silica and other minerals found in water that collects inside bubbles of cooled lava.
Before you head off for your first hunt, make sure to check local regulations to see if the agates you find are yours to keep. At California's Agate Beach, for example, visitors are encouraged to take home the agates they find. In certain areas near Lake Ontario, however, visitors are prohibited from taking any rocks at all. Happy hunting, and make sure to check out nine other gemstones to keep an eye out for below.