HIDDENITE, N.C. (AP) - A heist has wiped a North Carolina emerald mine out of an estimated $100,000 in rare precious gems and gold jewelry.
An Alexander County Sheriff's Office release says thieves broke into, vandalized and robbed Emerald Hollow Mine on Saturday. Owner Jason Martin said the lapidary, where gems are cut and polished, was hit hardest.
Martin says rare examples of hiddenite, a green gem "found nowhere else in the world" were taken. The most expensive loss was a $26,000 emerald pendant set with diamonds.
Martin is worried the thieves might toss the rare gems, thinking only the gold settings are valuable.
About 60 miles (96 kilometers) northwest of Charlotte, Emerald Hollow bills itself as the only emerald mine in the world allowing public prospecting, attracting 38,000 people annually.