AMELIA, Va. – On Labor Day weekend back in 1991, Richard Seaver and his friends were digging around in the Old Rutherford Mines for Virginia gems and minerals.
The mine used to open for three days a year over the holiday weekend, in conjunction with the Old Dominion Treasures Festival Gem and Mineral show.
People paid $5 a day to collect a variety of amazonite, cleavelandite, moonstone, mica, beryl, quartz, topaz and tourmaline.
Seaver and friends were hard pressed to find anything, but his luck changed when he reached in and pulled forth a 2,800-carat garnet in the rough, appraised at more than $10,000.
At first it felt just like a heavy piece of rock, until he washed it off and saw the rich red gift.
He considered the one of a kind find a payoff for the last 23 years of rock hunting.
“The only thing I could think of was “Oh, my god, this is just super, this is great,” Seaver said. “I couldn’t believe how big it was!”
Hardcore collectors were stunned by what they dubbed the “Big Daddy Garnet.” Seaver went another direction and called it the Rutherford Lady, and he made sure she was nice and secure in a deposit box.
“It is inconceivable it was here,” said enthusiast Paul Jones. “We usually look for 25, 30 carat stones, but nothing like this.”
Seaver was unsure why he wound up with a semi-precious stone, but knew for certain he wasn’t going to sell it. He planned to have it cut into smaller stones for jewelry.
“Keep on working hard,” he said to other hopeful mineral enthusiasts. He didn’t plan to stop until he struck gold.
The mine was open intermittently throughout the decades, mainly on Labor Day weekend, but is now closed.
Collectors now head to the Morefield Gem Mine, which is only open on certain days in the spring and fall.
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