The Stewart Mine in Pala, California was famous in the past for the immense quantities of fine pink tourmalines mined from its depths. First discovered over 100 years ago, it rose to prominence in the early part of the 20th century, supplying tourmaline to the Dowager Empress of China. When she passed away and the Boxer Rebellion ensued, the Chinese market for tourmaline collapsed and the mine became inactive for a long time. Apart from some smaller-scale mining done in the 1960’s and 1970’s the mine has been largely inactive, only being worked intermittently on a very small scale. This gem comes from some of that recent hand mining; this rough was mined around 2008 from a small pocket. I managed to acquire most of one of the miner’s shares from this pocket and have faceted a small number of gems from this material.
This beautiful gem is a bright light pink color–a classic California tourmaline hue. It’s been faceted in a classic shield/heart design (a cleft could easily be added to make it a true heart shape). The resulting gemstone is bright and lively in the hand and really shows of the gorgeous color of the tourmaline. The macro image shows some minor inclusions but they are not easily visible without a 10x loupe–it’s eye clean at a normal viewing distance. The tourmaline weighs 2.46 carats and measures 9.6 x 9.6 x 5.8 mm.