Over this past holiday weekend, I decided to head down south from Los Angeles to Pala, California to do some gem mining. Tucked away in the mountains near Temecula is the Oceanview Mine, a still active mine in the Pala Gem mining district. It is here that you can pay $60 and be able to dig for gemstones. To this day, miners find tourmaline, kunzite, aquamarine and even morganite deep inside the mine. Who wouldn’t want to spend a few hours out in the sun, digging through dirt and rocks to hopefully find a little treasure!
Upon our arrival, we were given a table that consisted of a large tub full of water, mining screens, a shovel and a bucket. After a brief orientation that included what to do, how to use the mining screens and what type of stones to look for, we were on our way to gem mining.
The first step is to grab your bucket and head towards the large pile of rocks and dirt. According to the mine owner, this is some debris that had come out of their mines within the last day or so. I climbed the large pile and used both a shovel and gravity to fill my bucket. I carried my bucket back to my table where I dumped it into my mining screens that were stacked on top of each other. I used my shovel (more like a trowel) to sift my pile back and forth so that smaller rocks would fall through the screen. I grabbed my larger screen and shook it back and forth to remove the excess dirt. I placed this tray into the tub of water and when I removed the screen, the rocks were clean and you were able to actually see their true colors. I began to sort through my stash and it was at this point that I was able to see exactly what I had. I found some larger rocks that had black and green tourmaline crystals throughout. Pretty neat!
Next, I was onto my second screen that caught the smaller material that had sifted through the top screen. I used my hands to remove excess dirt and I shook the screen as well. I placed it into the tub of water to rinse off the rocks and possible gemstones. I was a bit more careful now in my checking because I figured any gemstones I found would be small. Unfortunately, I sorted through my first batch without much success. However, I was ready to try again and again until I found something gem-like!
I probably sorted through 12-15 buckets over the next few hours. I didn’t find any large gems, but I did find some small pieces of aquamarine, quartz and lots of tourmaline. I was hoping I would find some morganite or larger pieces of aquamarine but no luck this time! Maybe on my next dig!! All in all, it was a super fun day of gem mining and exploring!
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