Derek & Erik Go To The Mountains To Find Rubies & Sapphires

in nature •  28 days ago

@derekrichardson and I went out hunting "Corundum" aka rubies and sapphires today in Southern California. I had been several times before, but this was the first time for Derek. Now, before you get too excited these are not gem grade stones, although we found some with good clarity like in the photo above. These are more specimens for gem & mineral collectors. Having said that, they are still awesome and amazing.

The location is a fairly well known spot called Cascade Canyon just above Claremont, CA. There is a zone at the top of a small mountain that is covered in iron, sulfur and the sodium and potassium feldspar that carries the rubies and sapphires. You can make out the brownish/orange outcropping vein in the center of the image below. The vein wraps around the mountain to the right.

The vein has been weathering for millennia and rockslides have brought the corundum bearing rock down to the river making it easier to collect. I say easier because you still have to beat the specimens out of boulders with a rock hammer and chisel. Below is an example of the boulders found along the river bed.

Very rarely do you see the rubies and sapphires exposed. Most of that material has already been picked up by rockhounds. You now need to break into these brecciated boulders to find the gem bearing material. When you do find it you get a rush hoping for some fantastic specimens. As Derek and I were walking over to another boulder we noticed a bunch of material that had been broken up. It contained some of the best and clearest ruby & sapphire I had ever seen here. I thought that it was done by a previous rockhound, but now that I think about it no rockhound would leave behind this quality material. Derek found the clearest gemstone shown below. It was a pink sapphire and it was very clear

I also found some clearer specimens, but I need to clean them up a bit. I was shocked to find such good material just lying on the ground.

It was an awesome day, but too short. We only had about 4hrs to collect, which means we'll have to go back soon for a full day of prospecting!

Gems & minerals found at this location include, ruby, sapphire, epidote, fuschite, and lapis lazuli.

I'll close with some more pictures of gems and the landscape. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Just found an old video I had on youtube that shows some bigger sapphires

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Very cool! I would love to check out this area and learn how to rockhound.


We'll talk about it at the meetup.

Awesome rock hunt! 💎

I'd get excited finding those rubies!
gem quality or not :-)

Beautiful photos and area there!
Didn't know you could find lapis lazuli
in southern California also!


Thanks @shasta. There are much better crystals there, we just didn't find them.

The lapis is actually pretty famous because it is the only California location. However it's on the side of a mountain and very hard to mine. Derek and I might go back and take a shot at the lapis vein, but we're not sure yet.

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you must have been a geologist for your entire life! what you do is awesome for ordinary people like me living in the big city. we can only have that with big sum amount of money. but you just picked it up and get money! the gift from mother nature right?




The gems are indeed beautiful. It's my first time to see gems in a rock thru your post. I am looking forward to your more posts.


They're even more beautiful in person. Thanks.

Dude! Way cool! I have had the luck to run across some small veins of quartz when hiking but I have yet to actually go on a rock hunt. For many years I have always wanted to dig up and mine my own crystals. I really need to get on with it cause it looks like so much fun!


I'm not sure of the gems up near Sac, but over on the Nevada side of Tahoe there are a lot of gems, quartz varieties. Once you get further into Nevada there's turquoise, obsidian and more. I'll check to see if there is anything around your area other than gold!


Hey, ill take some gold too! lol Obsidian is a great one and I would love to pull some. I also have heard up in the jackson area there is a place called garnet hill where there is some quality garnet for the finding.

Great ... natural stone is a regional asset ... which has a very large touch for the people around .. in our place many natural stone that has been taken even traded with a fairly large price


Nice. California has tons of different gems, more than any other state.

Wow, I had no idea you could hunt rubies and sapphires!!! My girlfriend's family is based in Arizona and sells fine jewelry, including rubies and sapphires. I'll have to let her know. Great post though, super interesting.
I upvoted and followed you - if you get the chance, check out my blog, I think you'll enjoy it


Yup and we didn't actually make it up to the outcrop. We just hunted the boulders.

Awesome about your girlfriend. Definitely let her know that we have them in Cali.

I tossed a vote your way. Cheers.

Very beautiful mountains and pretty stones !

This is golden.

I love it that there are so many sites with info on what rocks you can find and where... I cant find any of that in Portugal and so I have no clue what or where to look... I would definitely like to try it.


Here ya go bro. Get at it!
Look for pegmatites. They usually produce beryls & tourmalines. Seems you guys have some beryl deposits there.


Thanks man!