Ahhh, Southern California….what’s not to love? The endless days of sun, the beautiful beaches, amazing cities, good vibes all around…and home to one of the best hidden spots for gem seeking enthusiasts. Yup, there is a genuine gem mine here, located on the Pala Indian Reservation, which is only short drive inland from our beautiful SoCal beaches. Gems of Pala is the official name of this spot and it’s run by a husband and wife team (Blue and Shannon Shepherd) whose gemstone knowledge is incredible.
As a gem lover myself, I knew I had to visit. So last weekend I recruited my friend Monica (from Monica Branstrom Studios) to be my partner in crime on this expedition. Hyped up on caffeine and nonstop conversation, we made it to the location in record time. We arrived a few minutes early, giving us the opportunity for a few pictures and to take in the lay of the land.
The staff welcomed us in and explained what we would be doing on our dig. Blue (the owner) gave us a brief history lesson about the Stewart Tourmaline Mine and then we were set loose to "choose" our lucky 50 pound bag. I had a good feeling about this one!
Once outside we learned the whole process for our gem dig. Scoop dirt and rocks, add water and then sift, sift, sift....add more water, sift some more and search for your gemstones. Not the most glamorous job and a bit back breaking-literally! The work was worth the effort though since I found an amazing raspberry colored tourmaline nugget within minutes. And just like that I was hooked!
The next hour consisted of more scooping and sifting and more gemstones but then I hit the jackpot! Halfway through my bag I came across this little nugget...
This beauty is a 46.63 gram Kunzite crystal, and the third largest of its kind to be found at Gems of Pala. It was the find of all finds that day and definitely worth all the mud, messiness and raw fingers.
Finding a gem of this size is truly pure luck but the possibility of finding something bigger and better within every scoop is addictive and for that very reason I will be heading back to Gems of Pala sooner than later.
If you want to try out your luck and are up for a little adventure, I would recommend you head out to Gems of Pala for a few hours of fun and gem digging. You never know what you might discover!