A few weekends ago I headed out south towards San Diego and pulled off into the Pala Mining District. My destination was the Oceanview Mines, where for a mere $60 one gets access to a massive pile of mine tailings and all of the equipment necessary to screen and wash as much rubble as you can stand to haul over the course of 4 hours!
The road to the mine winds through orange groves; it was a clear, beautiful day!
The tailings pile and screening stations overlook hills that must surely be packed with tourmaline! I was ready to find some of my own!
After A brief "how-to" lecture, the group of eager rockhounds was set loose on that pile. I ran bucket after bucket of gravel through these screens; first a coarse screen to sort out larger gems, then a fine screen to get the smaller ones. It was HOT, dirty work! The more buckets you screen, the better your odds of finding good stuff! People were finding plenty of good stuff!!!
Even if for some reason you didn't find good stuff, there were huge crystal specimens set out all around to admire, and converted cargo container mineral shops to pick up some extra-choice mineral specimens from the local mines and abroad as well!
So, by the end of the day my back and legs felt like jelly, and I wasn't sure I had really found enough to have justified the trip! But that first impression changed when I got home and cleaned up my colorful little bits! I found a good representation of all of the minerals that the area mines are known for: Black Tourmaline, various Quartz specimens, Morganite, Kunzite (my absolute favorite mineral right now; I'm so excited to have found one!!!), Lepidolite (the sparkly purple bits; I also bought some big chunks of this from the shop!), Spudomene, Aquamarine (six lovely pieces!), and some colored Tourmalines (green, pink and raspberry; not "gem grade" but I don't mind!). The most common stone in the pile on the day of my visit was the black tourmaline; I brought home way more than is pictured here. Much of it displays a fine dark blue translucent "skin" in strong light!
Energetically, Black Tourmaline is known to dispel negative energy, and encourage a positive attitude. Who can't use that? I found one particularly special "stick" of Black Tourmaline that I really wanted to wear as a pendant, so I got down to business and drilled a hole right through it, and strung it on some nice gunmetal ball-chain. Negative energy be gone! I'm really into the idea of making simple, drilled crystal pendants that just allow the mineral itself to shine; no hokey wire wrapping or prong-mount stuff... just the rock, plain and simple! I can't wait to get back to that mine and look for more!!!