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Oceanview Mine Trip

We stopped off at the Oceanview Mine in Pala, California in search of some local facet rough and for the amethyst they featured on their facebook page. 

We've gone digging for gems at Oceanview Mine in the past and took a tour of the mine, but this trip was purely in search of facet rough.  This is an actively producing mine that is typically open to the public 3 days a week to allow visitors to dig through piles of dirt in search of crystals and rocks.  You pay a flat fee and get to take home everything you find.  When you arrive, you'll see a circle of tables surrounding a big mound of dirt.  The tables have large bins of water and small screens and you are supposed to blindly take a bucket of dirt from the pile, carry it to your station and begin sifting.  Unfortunately, not everyone follows the rules and the mine employees aren't too eager to enforce them.  I had some success digging but I was a bit soured on it when the people next to me decided to sit on the pile and take out all the big beautiful crystals without giving everyone else their fair chance at them.  It's a waste of time unless everyone can play fair.  Unfortunately people just can't resist and I wasn't willing to break the rules too.  Both times we've been to this dig site, we've seen people just sitting on the pile pulling out all the big crystals they can find, not bothering to sift a bucket for anything else. Despite this drawback, there is still a good reason to go, especially if you enjoy breaking the rules.

Squatters on the dig pile
Squatters on the dig pile
 

However, if you aren't looking for big crystal specimens that you've "found" yourself, and want something for making jewelry that doesn't take as much sweat, you might prefer to browse through their shop.  Their "shop" is very rustic and consists of 2 or 3 old shipping containers, those large metal cargo containers that open on one end.  The shop has some shelves, tables and displays featuring nice specimens from the mine, some finished jewelry and loose gemstones as well as both facet and cabachon rough.  We were in search of some amethyst we saw advertised on their facebook page and we found it.  

We were delighted when we found not only the amethyst but some aquamarine too.  They had a large mason jar of aquamarine as well as a few larger and prettier pieces tucked away inside their cabinet.  The mine produces a lot of tourmaline so there was no shortage of that as well.  We snatched up a few pieces of amethyst from Africa and aquamarine from Pakistan.  Despite not being locally mined, their prices would be hard to beat.  As we left, we certainly didn't envy all those diggers in the nearly 100 degree sunshine at the hottest time of the day.  We eagerly got in our air conditioned vehicle, drank our icy cold water and admired our crystals before heading home.

On our previous trip we did find one large quartz crystal before the "thieves" arrived to take the rest, and found a good number of cab quality stones (far more than pictured here) such as kunzite, aquamarine, watermelon tourmaline, pink and green tourmaline, spodumene and something I really wanted to call morganite.  If you come away empty handed (and I think that would be rare), the owners are actually very generous and I'm sure would give you a souvenir crystal or two.

We took their mine tour but were disappointed when we weren't allowed to actually go "in" the mine for safety reasons.  They gave a tour of the entrance (a cave) and their cabin for overnight lodgers, and had some impressive crystals out to recreate what the inside of the mine might look like when discovering a new pocket.  Overall it was an enjoyable trip and something to remember, but going back to just shop in their "store" is definitely the way to go for us.  Check them out at http://www.digforgems.com

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Belle and Dandy ™ is a family owned and operated jewelry business that's been making and selling jewelry since 2007. We are proud to live and work in the USA and are grateful to the many veterans and service men and women who have made it possible for us to be here today. We are also animal lovers and share our home with many rescued pets. Read more

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