When I was a kid, my parents took me on all kinds of adventure rides in and around our county. Up and down and around curvy mountain roads — and me in the back seat feeling carsick. I wasn’t real fond of some of those rides, but the drive to Franklin, North Carolina, was an exception. Not that I enjoyed the winding roads any more in that direction, but it was always fun to visit one of the native ruby or sapphire mines just outside of town. The gems aren’t like ones you find in stores. They’re natural, and still covered with matrix, the rocky crust that’s protected them since they were born. Want to see? Come along on a virtual trip to a local ruby mine.

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