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Two Couples, Amateur Miners, Find Emerald Bonanza In Hiddenite, North Carolina

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Two couples in Hiddenite, N.C., hit a jeweled jackpot last week when they found thousands of dollars worth of emeralds during an amateur mining expedition, ABC News reports.

Libby and Kevin Barrieault were on a group trip with the Mountain Area Gem and Mineral Association in an aging emerald mine last Friday when they stumbled upon a 50.5-carat gem.

"It was just one of those 'wow' moments," Libby told ABC News.

“I didn’t think I would ever find anything, but I guess God shined down on me and let me find that emerald for her,” Kevin told WSOCTV.

The next day, another couple on the same expedition, Terry Lofgren and John Kehoe, found a pocket of emerald crystals that included a 30-carat emerald and 240 carats worth of loose emeralds -- all estimated to be worth between $30,000 and $40,000.

"We hit the jackpot," Lofgren said. "It's so surreal."

While Lofgren and Kehoe have yet to decide what to do with their glittery find, the Barrieaults have chosen to sell their emerald on eBay -- at a starting price of $8,000.

According to United Press International, the mine is owned by Jamie Hill, who is known in the area as the "emerald man." Hill had opened up his North American Emerald Mine to amateur treasure hunters for $25 a head in the hopes of making some money.

Despite the unexpected discoveries by his customers, Hill said that he has no regrets.

"We did lose quite a bit of money, but that's okay because it was the experience of a lifetime for these people and it alerted me to another location I should explore," Hill told ABC News.

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