It was just another ordinary day for miners Terry Ledford and Jamie Hill. There they were- digging as usual in the rural town of Hiddenite, North Carolina, when all of a sudden, a slight glimmer of green caught Hill’s eye. Upon further excavation, he uncovered a mammoth of a gem, a 64-carat emerald that has now been officially designated the largest cut emerald ever found in North America. Ledford, upon pulling up the gem, claims that it looked like “an empty 7-Up bottle”. Approximately two inches in total surface area, the emerald was originally registered at 310-carats before it was cut, making this stunning find all the more valuable. Alexander County, the county in which the town of Hiddenite resides, has long been famed for its hunker emeralds, but, to many gemologists dismay, the geologic makeup of the region doesn’t correlate with the typical environment where an emerald deposit would be. Because of this desparity in research, they have resorted to predicting that these massive emerald unearthings that have occurred throughout multiple decades have simply been a matter of coincidence- that the gems formed simply because the right rocks and the right fluids were present. The town of Hiddenite itself is named after the rare, deep-green mineral found there during the 1800s by one of Thomas Edison’s field researchers; since 1998, Hill has uncovered emeralds registering at 18.8-carats (nicknamed the Carolina Queen by Hill) and 7.8-carats (nicknamed the Carolina Prince), the two being sold for a combined value of $1.5 million. In addition to digging up actual emeralds, Hill has also excavated emerald crystals weighing in at 1,800 and 972 carats respectively, also unearthing a third that was over 10 inches long. But in light of this most recent find, Hill and Ledford have deemed their gem the Carolina Emperor, a possessor of wealth and envy much like its ancestral human position counterpart. Hill, Ledford, and third partner Renn Adams have dug on a farm that Adams owns since 2001, using a bulky machine known as a track hoe to peel back layers of dirt three to four inches thick along veins of rock and mineral that contain either mica or quartz. Working with loose picks, they scour the narrow veins in search of the pockets where hiddenite and emeralds might be located. Upon making a significant discovery, the three then go about drawing it to the surface using bamboo or plastic tools to avoid doing possible damage to the encompassing rocks. Although Ledford has yet to offer speculation on the emerald market and the prices he might be presented with for his pivotal find, experts predict that the value will be ludicrously high. As buyers begin their talks for purchasing the Carolina Emperor, however, Ledford is back out there on Adams farm doing what miners do best- digging.