Tourmaline is common, but not in gem quality.
Tom Kapitany and Hank Ebes visit this historic group of mines.
Erik Cordova was kind enough to take Hank and I to visit his tourmaline mines in San Diego region of Southern California, first the Carmelita mine and then the Tourmaline King mine.
It was a fantastic day , Erick shared with me his extensive knowledge of pegmatite geology of the region, having spent over 30 years mining in the area
Both these mines are about to be worked for Gem grade and specimen crystals of world class standard.
We were fortunate to be able to buy a few specimens from the Stewart Mine he mined a few years ago.
Crystal World is actively exploring for Tourmaline now.
These mines have a fascinating history…
The Empress Dowager’s Obsession
Gold was only one of many valuable resources being mined in southern California. While searching for gold, miners began pulling pegmatites full of museum-quality gems from the hills of Riverside and San Diego Counties. The discovery of pink tourmaline in the Mesa Grande area of San Diego was particularly lucrative, because the Dowager Empress of China at that time happened to have an obsession with it. The trade of pink tourmaline between southern California and China was facilitated by the world-famous Tiffany & Co. The imperial court would place an order, and then Tiffany gemologist J.L. Tannenbaum would commission miners in southern California to mine and ship the requested amount. This process was repeated each time China placed an order until the end of the empire and death of the Empress in 1911. Between 1902 and 1910 San Diego provided imperial China with 120 tons of gem-quality pink tourmaline. In 1969 the Pala Stewart mine hit a new tourmaline adit and produced another ton of hot pink tourmaline before the mine sold in 1980. And the Tourmaline Queen mine produced several “blue cap” tourmaline specimens, and specimens with a peach-colored morganite attached to them, a pocket of tourmaline so perfect in color and size that Vince Manson, then-curator of the American Museum of Natural History called it “the find of the century.” from the San Diego Natural History Museum website
Check out tourmaline in our shop