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Gemstone Mining in California

Most people think California is beaches, surfing, sunshine, and earthquakes but those of us who live here know that that the climate and topography is varied. But, did you know that California is also home to gemstone and gold mining? Very few are open to commercial mining, but they are open to the public for an experience you’ll never forget! As warmer weather approaches and Summer vacation comes into view, I thought I’d give my gemstone lovers a few places to travel to this Summer that are outdoors.

Benitoite Mining Company: California’s state gem is a rare gemstone that one does not normally see in jewelry because finding gemstone quality crystals big enough to be cut into smaller gemstones does not occur very often. In fact, the only source for gem quality Benitoite is in the San Benito County of California. It is a beautiful blue color that rivals the finest Sapphires! You can be a miner for the day at the Benitoite Mining Company!

Gold Prospecting Adventures: The California gold rush was an important economical time in our history. It brought thousands of people to try their hand for riches by mining, but also thousands of people who had businesses to support the miners. Gold Prospecting Adventures immerses you into the culture with replicated camps, tour guides in period clothes, and your own try at finding “gold in them thar hills!”

San Diego became famous for its Tourmaline mines in the 1800’s. The last Empress of China, Cixi, loved Tourmaline so much that she sent a team of miners to San Diego, and until 1911, tons of gem quality Tourmalines were shipped to China. Here are two places you can get Tourmaline mining experience:

The Himalayan Tourmaline Mine: The Himalayan Tourmaline mine was discovered in 1898 and has produced an estimated 250 thousand pounds of Tourmaline! It has a five-mile underground maze of tunnels that have been created in the last 123 years. Don’t worry, you won’t be going into the tunnels, but you will be sifting through dirt brought straight from the mine. You also get to keep all that you find!

Gems of Pala: Tourmaline isn’t the only gemstone you can find here! Quartz, Kunzite, Morganite, and Lepidolite can also be discovered in these hills. You can have the experience of sifting through dirt brought straight from the mine and keeping what you find, or you can take home a bag of dirt from the Stuart Lithium Mine to sift through at home.

As you can probably tell, mining is dirty work, so be sure to wear your grubbies and give yourself plenty of time. You will see rockhound enthusiasts, family excursions, and Girls Scout/Boy Scout groups having their try at finding an amazing natural wonder. It will also show how hard it is to find just one gemstone even today where these same techniques are used worldwide.

I would love to hear about your mining adventures and help you design a piece to go with any gemstones you find! Angela Cisneros Jewelry Concierge brings back the joy and confidence of jewelry shopping, so that you can celebrate with ease! My by-appointment approach means:

  • One-on-one appointments (personal attention and no crowds!)

  • Discretion and privacy (surprises remain surprises!)

  • Expert help from a Graduate Gemologist with 23 years of experience (yep, that’s me!)

Book your FREE appointment with me today!

*Picture credit: @giagrams This is a Tourmaline and Quartz specimen found in one of the Pala area mines of San Diego in the early 1900’s! It is now in The Smithsonian.

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