Digging for Tourmaline in California
California is known for a particular type of crisp pink Tourmaline. You can also find plenty of green and black tourmaline in the state. There are a few mines in southern California that I was curious to check out while I was down at GIA in Carlsbad taking some lab classes for my Gemologist certification.
Some people look for new restaurants to check out when they travel. I, on the other hand, look for mines to go get dirty in. The Himalaya Tourmaline Mine, located near Santa Isabel, CA, didn't disappoint.
There was a large pile of dirt and rock in the center with screening/sifting tables surrounding the pile. Plenty of shovels and buckets are available on site. The cost to dig for the day is relatively inexpensive for the 5 hours you get. You keep everything you find and the location is easy to get to and right off the main road. It's fun for kids and rockhounds alike.
You can also take a bag of high grade ore to go or have one shipped to your house so you can dig for tourmalines in the comfort of your own home (NOTE: it makes a big mess). The photo here is from my day of digging at the mine. I found quite a few tourmaline, a large smoky quartz, and some black tourmaline in quartz matrix, so my efforts were well-rewarded. It's always so satisfying to know exactly where your stones come from.
There are several mines around this area, so if you are ever in southern California, why not go for a dig!
Check out this link for more information on tourmaline. The light green tourmaline in quartz in the materials photo I found at the mine.
Here is a piece of the pink tourmaline I mined, cut, and set: Polyhedroid Agate 14k Gold Pendant.