Iris Gemstone Beads

Gemstones of California

By Danielle Olivia Tefft

Some of your favorite gemstone beads may come from California. For those of us who don’t live within its sun-drenched borders, the mention of California conjures up several mental images. These include the famous Hollywood sign and glimpses of red carpet movie stars, the Golden Gate Bridge and Disneyland. Then there are the mighty Sequoia trees, infamous LA traffic jams and perhaps the great California Gold Rush of 1849. But did you know California also has a bounty of precious gemstone deposits?

Gold was discovered in 1848 at Sutter’s Mill in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This event sparked the great gold rush that officially put California on the map of the United States of America. But discovery of gemstones also drew many fortune seekers to the state during the 1800s and 1900s. Of course, these “discoveries” by prospectors and the gemstone industry weren’t the official firsts. Native Americans inhabited the lands in which California gemstones have been found for centuries prior to Columbus landing in America. Many of these gemstones have a cherished role in their culture, as well. That fact has not stopped modern discovery claims on gem-rich land tracts by prospectors and mining companies.

Native California gemstones include benitoite (the official state gemstone), morganite, kunzite, tourmaline, topaz, hessonite and spessartite garnet, agate, green fluorite, pink apatite, quartz crystal and turquoise. Several of these gemstones have unique stories of their own that coincide with their modern discoveries. These tales are briefly recounted below:


In 1907, farmer George Louderback stumbled onto a mesmerizing outcrop of rock on his land near the banks of San Benito River. It was riddled with sparkling blue crystals which he assumed were blue diamonds. He quickly worked to secure a mineral rights patent for them. Subsequent scientific study revealed the alluring cobalt blue crystal to be a member of the barium titanium silicate mineral family. It was also found that under Ultra Violet light, this captivating gemstone emits a bright blue fluorescence.

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  • avatar Quality Gemstones? | Yahoo Answers
    • It's hard to answer this question because there are so many variables. For e.g. What is your market? What quality? What volume? What type of stones? What size?
      I don't know where you are located, but I think you ultimately need to head to gem trading centres in gem producing and manufacturing countries. For example, if you want Rubies and Sapphires, you might want to travel to Thailand and visit Bangkok, Mae Sot, and Chantaburi. Or you might want to head to Sri Lanka or Madagascar.