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The Gem Hunter's Destination / Located in Pala, CA / 760-742-1356
Locally owned and operated by Blue and Shannon Sheppard 

Digging Deeper

What to Look for in Your Gem Bag

About Us
Our Brief History

During the 1850s, miners sought their fortune in the waterways in San Luis Rey River to find gold. Instead, they found strange, pink, purple, and green crystals in their gold pans. They followed these colorful stones to their source: the majestic Queen Mountain. Here they found a vast fortune in gems, including a huge pegmatite that was the source of the most colorful gem in the world — tourmaline. This site would come to be called the Stewart Lithia Mine, which became the largest producer of lithium in the United States from its huge reserve of Lepidolite ore.

During the late 1800s, Chinese miners and laborers harvested electric pink tourmaline crystals and sent them back to friends and family in China. The Empress Dowager Cixi became interested in these gems and sent her officials to the mines to acquire more of the gems. These gems became popular among the rulers of the time, including the Romanov Czars and Queen Victoria. Even today in China, pink or red tourmaline gems are extremely popular and highly valued.

Gems of Pala welcomes you to join this long legacy of gem mining in the same stockpiles that were mined in the 1800s. Become part of history as you try your luck mining, real dirt from a real mine, straight from the tunnels of Queen Mountain.

You can also purchase genuine Stewart Lithia Mine Gem Bags which are fun, educational, and may possibly reward you with gems. Please note: there are no guarantees that these bags will produce any gemstones. All sales are final — no refunds.

We also sell our DVD about mining and gems in our store to help you learn more about gemstones, mining, and the history behind our mines. The Stewart Tourmaline Story, 56 minutes of pure mining entertainment and knowledge.  

Going Deeper
Beginning Your Mining Adventure

When you bring your Gems of Pala Gem Bags home, you will need to be careful to screen these gravels in small portions, a double handful is sufficient, and to use a method that removes the mud. Washing the rocks well is important because mud can hide valuable crystals inside of it. Upon washing a small portion, begin from one side of the pile to pick through the gray or colorless rocks all the way to the other side systematically. What is the main scientific thing to look for? Answer: Is it pretty? Most gems are transparent or semitransparent, with a “glassy” surface and distinct form, and often reveal vivid colors. Set aside these gem pieces in your separate pile of “good stuff”. When you have gone through your little portion, discard the leftovers and go get another double handful and repeat the process. Some folks prefer wearing an Optivisor, or even reading glasses to enhance the experience and to capture those evasive micro-mounts.

Remember: This is genuine Stewart Lithia Mine material and anything you find came right out of the mine. Good luck from your friends at Gems of Pala!

A List of Gems found at Gems of Pala

1. Quartz – A well-known mineral called rock-crystal in the past, the Quartz found at this mine ranges from colorless to Citrine to deep brown, from broken shards to complete 6-sided specimens; our quartz is notable among new age collectors for its very high Lithium content in the wispy inclusions of amblygonite and spodumene.
• Formula: SiO2.
• Hardness: 7.
• Density: 2.65
• Morphology: Hexagonal

Morganite – Named after the historic Financier and Industrialist John P. Morgan, this rare peach to pink colored Beryl crystal takes its revered place next to its siblings in the Beryl family: Heliodor, Red Beryl, Green Beryl, Aquamarine and Emerald. Owing its color to traces of manganese, this gemstone is as seductive and alluring as any emerald. Formula: Be3Al2(Si6O18).
• Hardness: 7.5 to 8.
• Density: 2.76
• Morphology: Hexagonal
Kunzite – A bright pale pink to a deep rich purple, this color of Spodumene was probably first noted from the Stewart Lithia Mine in 1902 by Dr. George F. Kunz who was sponsored in his studies by J.P. Morgan. Kunzite was prized by Tiffany & Co of New York, and was marketed as “The American Gemstone”. A Lithium crystal, it is light-sensitive. 

Formula: LiAlSi2O6.

• Hardness: 6.5 to 7
• Density: 3.14 to 3.22
• Morphology: Monoclinic
Lepidolite – A lavender to purple rock occurring in the scaly mica-like form or the denser, more compact cryptocrystalline form containing about 5-percent pure Lithium and often featuring beautiful sprays of pink tourmaline crystals. Used extensively overseas for cabochons and decorative tiles. 

Formula: K(Li,Al)3(Si,Al)4O10(F,OH)2.

• Hardness: 2.5 to 4
• Density: 2.77 to 2.96
• Morphology: Monoclinic, Cryptocrystalline
Tourmaline – The Queen of Gemstones, the Rainbow Gem, Tourmaline is an exquisite but very complex formula that has never been synthesized or made in the laboratory, so there are no fakes, only shabby look-alikes. The name probably derives from the Austrian sponsored expeditions to Asia by Marco Polo c.1254 to 1324 AD, where the Sanskrit name “Turmali” was given to stones possessing multiple colors, rainbow colors. Upon his return, these were accepted as “Turmali Stein” which became our word in English: Tourmaline. Significantly, it appears that the variety of colors of tourmaline have no limit. Here at the Stewart Lithia Mine, we have a great spectrum of colors in our Elbaite Tourmalines, from Black (Schorl) to Green to Blue to Versicolor to Watermelon, and most famously acclaimed worldwide as the purest and finest Pink ever found. A breathtaking gemstone that is durable and that also enchants with curious nuances of shade within hue within color. 


• Hardness: 7.5
• Density: 2.92 to 3.34
• Morphology: Trigonal/Hexagonal
About the North San Diego County Area
North County San Diego Inland is a hidden treasure offering pure fun and adventure that is like no other place on earth. Touring within these Tribal Lands and Wonderlands, your visit will be as unique as it will be welcomed by all who live here. You will find that whether its casinos for the adults, digging for your own gemstones for kids of all ages, the Gemological Institute of America World Headquarters, the Old Missions, The Historic Indian Cultural Centers, Mount Palomar Astronomical Observatory, the Wild Animal Park, Temecula Olde Towne, Temecula Valley Wine Country, Spuntino’s Pizza, or the highest rated Hotels and Buffets in California, this is every person in the worlds’ own backyard so "Come and Play!" And if you cannot visit, then please order a Heart of the Mine Gem Bag and experience the legendary riches of California Real Estate for yourself in your own home. You might just find the next “Big One!”

Be a Gem Hunter at
Gems of Pala 
The Gem Hunters Destination

Sat - Sun
10:00 am - 3:00 pm

35940 Magee Rd
( Off Hwy 76 )
Pala, CA 92059

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