The Ruby City Gems and Minerals in Franklin looks nondescript on the outside and you might be tempted to pass it by, but you will be missing out on a rare opportunity to view a wide-ranging collection of gems and minerals as well as Native American and pre-Colombian finds.
This is not just another gem and jewelry store, but a place that really does pay homage to the gems and minerals from the earth beneath us. The jewelry store is in the front, but wander to the back to see an amazing display of gems and mineral artifacts. The Klatt family (owners of the store and museum) say their collection contains a large variety of amethyst including one 50-pounder, and rhodochrosite, an 8700 carat ruby, as well as what they say is the world’s largest sapphire at 385 pounds.
The gem museum dates to 1954 when the original owner of the store, Ernest Klatt, purchased a starter collection from a local engineer.
Besides the gems, the museum also has displays of fossils, pre-Colombian relics and surgical tools, petrified wood and Cherokee and other Native American artifacts. Members of the Klatt family found some of these items; others were donated by local Cherokee organizations.
As the Klatts say on their website, their main interest now is the jewelry business. But they don’t mind going past the counter where their merchandise is displayed for the free look at a truly remarkable collection of gems and other items.
Admission is free.