Where in the USA is the CoCo Locomoto? travel blog

Getting a bucket of tailings

Dumping the tailings on to a screen

Sifting the dirt out of the tailings

Sorting through the tailings to find the gems

Inside the mine

Inside the mine

The top of a huge smokey Quartz

The largest tourmaline found at the mine

Looking for the gemstone "tourmaline" was our treasure hunt for a day as well as getting to tour an active gemstone mine. We sure didn't strike it rich but had a lot of fun and came away knowing that wasn't what we wanted to do "when we grew up!" David and Dana, owners of the Cyro-Genie Mine in San Diego County gave us lessons on how to sift through the tailings to find some treasures. We found the following gems and minerals: Lepidolite which is a lilac colored, lithium rich Mica; Muscovite, a very pale mica that is rich in aluminum and flakes to be paper-thin; Feldspar which is ground and used to make china and pottery; Crystal Quartz which can be clear to opaque with some being smokey; Garnet (0nly 1 tiny one); and Tourmaline which is what is mined at Cyro-Genie. It is found in long thin needles within quartz and is the most vari-colored of all gemstones. Most tourmaline found at the mine is pink. Some of the ones we found were pink and green that are called "watermelon" gems. Mining Tourmaline is a very delicate process. It has been in the ground for thousands and thousands of years. They look for soft colored pockets in the mine by drilling, then use hand picks to dig around what may be a pocket with the highly prized gems. The large gems are collectors items and the smaller stones which are sifted, just as we were taught, are used in jewlery. Can you identify the different gems & minerals we sent you? How many of the different minerals we found did you find in the tailings we sent? Did you find a tourmaline big enough to have made into a piece of jewelry or a watermelon gem? The photo of the big gem is one of the largest found at the mine. It is 14 inches long and 5 inches wide at the base and said to be worth over $250,000.00.

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