Gems of Pala Tourmaline

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Location: Pala (53 Miles / 55 Minutes North of Downtown San Diego)

Hours: Panning is on most weekends by Appointment Only

Cost: $20 for a Bucket of Pilings

Features: Tourmaline Mining at the famous Stewart Mine; Gem Store

gems-of-palaGems of Pala Highlights: You will find the Gems of Pala store at one of the most widely recognized tourmaline mines in the world, the Stewart Mine. It is in the San Diego County community of Pala, which provides one of the world’s richest deposits of pink tourmaline. Rockhounds and gemstone enthusiasts come from all over the world to find Pala tourmaline.

The Stewart Mine holds the record for being the largest pegmatite mining operation in the history of the U.S. This took place in the late 19th century when the last Chinese Dynasty sought to aquire all of the pink tourmaline in California. The Stewart Mine is also famous for its lepidolite, which comes in lilac, lavendar, and pink colors. Plenty of pink tourmaline and green tourmaline, which the Chinese did not desire, can be found.

Although you will not be allowed to enter the Stewart Mine, buckets of mining dirt are brought out to their Gems of Pala store where enthusiasts can sift through the buckets of gem filled dirt. Prices vary depending on the source of the tourmaline. You will be shown a 5-minute video and given the tools to sift through the dirt. Anything you find is yours to keep.

Learn more by visiting the Gems of Pala web site. You are required to call ahead before visiting to ensure buckets are currently available. Otherwise, you will only get to buy tourmaline and other gems available in their store, which is generally open 10AM-4PM on weekends, except one month during winter when the mine closes.

Preparing for Your Visit

Dress appropriately since it can get hot in Pala during the summer. Check the Inland Forecast to learn more. Wear something you don’t mind getting dusty, a hat, and sunscreen. Bring gloves (the kinds you would use to clean kitchens or bathrooms) if you don’t want to sift through wet pilings with your bare hands. Also, bring containers to carry your gems home.

Information on Visiting the Gems of Pala

Directions from Google Maps to the intersection of Pala Road and Magee Road in Pala, CA 92059. (Note: This is not related to the Oceanview Mine, which is further up Magee Road.)

Traffic – It is relatively easy to reach the Gems of Pala during its normal store hours. It is only 7 miles east of highway I-15.

Transit – There is no transit service to the Gems of Pala.

Find More Attractions with Similar Themes or Location: Gems / Jewelry, Kids Attractions & Activities, North County Inland, Pan for Gold & Gems |

2 Responses to “Gems of Pala Tourmaline”

  1. Connie says:

    love this… never hurd of, till I saw this on T.V. I decided to look for it on line. This is great!

  2. Eric Abrams says:

    Hey there Miner.

    I would like to say that all the fee dig experiences in the San Diego area are great. I have experience digging at the big four mines and enjoy each of them for several reasons. I consider myself a rockhound. I do it for the glory of the find. I have met the mine owners at every mine and they are all very helpful.
    The Gems of Pala is very accessible and fun. I have had great fortune at this dig. Buckets are about $20 each. You dig the dirt off the tailings pile and sift it on site or take it home. Your chance of finding Tourmaline is pretty high. You will find a variety of chips ranging in color from black, pink, blue and green. I have found make tourmaline pencils, some of which are bi-colored and double terminated. You may stumble on some gemmy facet grade pieces as I have. Once, a man across from me found a monster pink tourmaline as big as my thumb and terminated. You will also find lepedolite of good quality.
    Go through your screen slowly and carefully. Some of those champagne colored tourmaline are hard to spot. Keep everything that you think is interesting and they (Lin-Lin) will tell you what is good.
    The shop owner will even give you an approximate value of your findings. This may be an inflated value as things are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them. Still, the people at this mine are helpful and the experience is unique and fun. i have no bias as I like my experience at all the mines I dig at.
    If you are a school teacher as I am, especially fourth grade, I suggest buying a bag and taking it to your students and let them find some gems. It attaches to the curriculum. If you have any questions about this or any experience, call me at 909-648-3050.

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