16 Gemstones in California: Where to Find Them and How to Use Them

  1. All You Need to Know When Rockhounding in California 
  2. Best California Rockhounding Location
  3. Top 16 Gemstones in California
  4. How to Do Rockhounding in California 
  5. FAQs

Have you ever been curious about the mesmerizing world of gemstones hidden in California’s landscapes? From the sparkling allure of precious gems to the captivating beauty within rocks, California is a treasure trove awaiting exploration.

California boasts a variety of gemstones nestled in its natural wonders. From the remarkable Benitoite, the state’s official gem, to the soothing Agate with its banded patterns, these treasures are ready to be unearthed by adventurers.

Unveil insights for an enriching journey through California’s geological wonders in this article. Whether you’re a crystal enthusiast or someone seeking expert knowledge, there’s something here for everyone keen to uncover the enchantment of gemstones in California.

All You Need to Know When Rockhounding in California 

Graphic Table about Gemstones in the State of California.

Rockhounding in California is rooted in the Gold Rush era, where prospectors pursued gold and precious gemstones. This tradition endures as modern adventurers uncover treasures like Benitoite, the state gem, and Serpentine, the state stone, amidst the diverse geological wonders of California.

With its diverse climate, California offers rockhounding year-round. Coastal areas enjoy mild temperatures, while inland regions experience distinct seasons. Spring and fall usually provide comfortable conditions for your adventures. 

From coastal cliffs to towering mountains, California’s landscape is a mosaic of natural wonders. This varied topography offers a multitude of gem-rich regions to explore, while encounters with unique wildlife such as bighorn sheep, black bears, and even the elusive condor add to the adventure.

Always acquire necessary permits and respect private property and park regulations. Minimize your impact by using designated trails, avoiding sensitive habitats, and adhering to the “leave no trace” principle. By treading lightly, you contribute to safeguarding California’s natural beauty for generations to come.

Best California Rockhounding Location

Graphic Table about Gemstones in the State of California.

For those interested in rockhounding in California, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website is a fantastic starting point. This site offers information about rock-collecting sites, regulations, and other essential details. 

Always Remember: It’s important to remember that the types of crystals and minerals you might find can differ from the locations listed. Also, rockhounding rules can change over time, so always do your homework before setting out on your adventure. 

Top 16 Gemstones in California

California’s different terrains have a variety of special and interesting gemstones. Check out these 16 amazing gems as you travel through this mix of natural beauty.


pink lace agate on white background

Agate is a beautiful and colorful gemstone in various parts of California. It’s known for its striped or banded appearance, which makes each piece unique. 

You can explore spots like the Agate Flat area in Siskiyou County or multiple ocean beaches in Crescent City to find Agate. When rockhounding for Agate, keep an eye out for smooth, rounded shapes with vibrant patterns.

To dig for Agate, you’ll want a small shovel or pick and a bucket to collect your finds. Gently digging in gravelly or sandy areas can reveal these treasures. 

Agate comes in many different colors and patterns so you might discover pieces with layers of red, blue, brown, and more.

It’s thought to bring balance and calmness to the wearer, promoting emotional stability and harmony. Some people also use Agate as a protective California gemstone.


polished Bloodstone on a white background

Bloodstone, also known as heliotrope, is a deep green gemstone with red spots. It resembles drops of blood, which gives it its intriguing name. 

Bloodstones can be found at the Agate Flat area in Siskiyou County alongside Agate and other gems and minerals. Watch for Bloodstone’s distinctive dark green color and red spots when hunting.

Similar tools used for Agate hunting can be handy for digging for Bloodstones. A small shovel, pick, and a container to hold your finds will suffice. Look in rocky or gravelly areas for pieces of this unique stone.

Bloodstone is thought to enhance strength and courage. Some people associate it with vitality and even grounding energy. It’s often used as a talisman for protection and to promote well-being.


polished benitoite on white background

Benitoite is a real treasure for those who love gem hunting in California. This unique stone, also the California state gem, is especially found in one main spot: San Benito County. 

The gem is named after this county! If you’re looking for genuine Benitoite crystals, the best place to start is the mines and fields of San Benito.

When hunting for Benitoite, you’ll want to look for its striking blue color, ranging from a light sky blue to a rich sapphire shade. 

A rock hammer and a chisel are usually the best tools to use when trying to dig out this gem. Once you think you’ve found a piece, check its transparency and how it shines under a light. This can help confirm you’ve got a real Benitoite crystal in your hands.

This gem can help clear the mind, making it easier to make decisions. It’s also thought to bring joy and clarity, helping people feel more balanced and focused in their daily lives. 


Blue Chalcedony crystal on a white background

Chalcedony is a unique mineral found in various colors, including blue, pink, white, and gray. In California, one of the most notable spots to find this gem is the multiple ocean beaches in Crescent City. 

These lumps might look like smooth, shiny stones that could remind you of pebbles from the beach.

You don’t need any fancy tools when you’re out looking for Chalcedony. Just your sharp eyes and a small container will do the trick. You can often find Chalcedony on beaches or in places with many small rocks.

The energy of Chalcedony, when amplified, is like being in harmony with one’s tranquility and rationality. It also improves your communication skills and insight into the thoughts of others.


A Chert crystal on a white background. Source: Flickr | James St. John
Source: Flickr | James St. John

Chert is a common form of rock discovered during gem hunting in California. It’s scattered everywhere, from Fresno County to San Francisco’s Jacalitos Canyon to Coyote Point. Alternatively, Chert could be located elsewhere. 

To spot Chert, pay attention to how it feels under your fingers. It’s not uncommon for Chert to feel as smooth as glass. A tiny shovel or pick and some container to hold your treasure are all you need. After you find it, looking at the Chert’s hue and grain is a good idea.

When you hold a piece of Chert in your hand, you might think about how smart our ancestors were to use this rock to make tools, weapons, and even works of art. This can help you value the skills and information passed down from generation to generation.


A diamond on a white background

Diamonds, those sparkling gems, can be found in a few places in California while gem hunting in California. One of these spots is in Eureka, along the Trinity River. But don’t get too excited – finding Diamonds here is pretty rare. 

If you’re searching for Diamonds, you’ll need to look for tiny, glittering specks that sometimes look like glass. 

Digging for Diamonds requires more than a shovel. You might need a sluice box or sifting equipment to sort through gravel and dirt. And after spotting a potential Diamond, the most important thing to do is to double-check its authenticity with experts.

They’re believed to bring clarity of thought and help amplify positive energies. But remember, finding Diamonds in the wild is a real rarity – they’re truly precious stones.

Fossilized Coral

Fossilized Coral on a white background
Image Source: Etsy.com | Todd and Kim

Fossilized Coral is a captivating stone found in various locations across California. You might come across it in spots like Jacalitos Canyon in Fresno County, among others. This stone is a unique piece of history, capturing the essence of ancient marine life within its intricate patterns.

Watch for bits of Fossilized Coral that look like Coral formations frozen in time. They often have different shapes and textures. Simple tools, like a small shovel and a place to put your finds, are all you need to find this gem. When you find a piece, take a moment to think about how it shows you something about the past.

It’s thought to tie us to the past of the Earth and the way life goes in cycles. This stone can symbolize the strength and continuity of life, helping us stay in the present while honoring the past.


A raw garnet on a white background

Found in select parts of California, Garnet is a truly stunning stone showcasing deep, captivating colors. One can see it in locations like the gravels of Shady Run in Placer County. It’s worth watching intently for the gleaming crystals displaying shades of red and purple.

Watch for the small, bright gemstones that will easily catch your eye when you go out to find Garnets. A small shovel and a bucket are all you need to collect your finds. As you carefully sort through sand or gravel, take advantage of these amazing rocks.

With its ability to infuse individuals with enhanced energy and passion, this stone is often associated with a burst of life power. When you hold Garnet, you might experience a feeling of strength and bravery, like a surge of vitality coursing through you. 


polished jade on a white background

In California, Jade is one of the most valuable gems to find. This beautiful stone is most likely found in certain parts of the state. 

The Jade-rich stream gravels in the Big Sur area are well-known, so many people like to go there. This valuable gem has also been found in the gravels throughout the Trinity River in Eureka.

When on the lookout for Jade during your gem hunting in California, it’s essential to recognize its typical appearance. Jade often manifests as a smooth, greenish rock, especially in riverbeds or coastal areas. 

A rock hammer and a chisel are your go-to tools for extracting this stone. In California, both Nephrite and Jadeite varieties of Jade can be found. 

A primary step after spotting a potential Jade piece is to hold it against a light source. You’re on the right track if it showcases a translucent quality with a rich, consistent color.

Many believe that Jade symbolizes purity, serenity, and protection. It’s a stone that’s thought to attract good luck, foster friendship, and stabilize one’s personality.


A polished jadeite crystal on a white background

In the vast expanse of California, Jadeite can be specifically pinpointed in certain regions. The gravels along the Eel River in Mendocino County are particularly known for their Jadeite deposits, making it a hotspot for those passionate about gem hunting in California.

Having the right tools is crucial when you’re out in the field. A rock hammer and a chisel are fundamental for extracting Jadeite from its surrounding matrix. A magnifying glass can be beneficial to closely inspect the stone’s structure and ensure its authenticity.

It’s a stone that resonates with the Heart Chakra, promoting emotional healing and stability. Many wear Jadeite as a talisman, believing it shields against negative energies and attracts love and positive vibrations.


Porcelain Jasper on a white background
Source: Etsy | StonyMountainGems

In the diverse terrains of California, Jasper can be found in several notable locations. The multiple ocean beaches in Crescent City are known to house this vibrant stone. 

Agate Flat area in Siskiyou County and the Jacalitos Canyon in Fresno County are other prominent spots where Jasper is frequently discovered. These locations offer a promising start for those particularly interested in gem hunting in California.

As for tools, a rock hammer, chisel, and sometimes a pickaxe are ideal for extracting Jasper from its surroundings. 

California is home to several varieties of Jasper, including Picture Jasper and Ocean Jasper. 

Jasper is believed to absorb negative energies while promoting courage and determination. This stone resonates with Earth’s energy, grounding its bearer and instilling a sense of tranquility.


Moonstone with white background

Moonstone is a special gem that shines and sparkles much like the moon. In California, especially in the southern part, you can find this gem in a few places. One popular spot is the beaches in Crescent City. 

After the tide goes out, you might spot a Moonstone hidden among the sand, waiting to be discovered. This makes Crescent City a favorite for those searching for gems in California.

If you’re trying to find one, a small hammer, a chisel, and a screen can help. California has a few different kinds of Moonstone, like the rainbow-colored one and the classic white one. A simple trick is to hold any Moonstone up to the light. This will make its special glow stand out even more.

Some say it helps people understand their feelings better and brings calmness. It’s like having a little piece of the moon’s magic with you, helping guide you through tough times.


A polished Nephrite crystal on a white background

Nephrite is one of those common rocks found in California that gem enthusiasts love to search for. This type of Jade stone has specific spots where it’s more likely to be found. One of the known places is the gravel along the Eel River in Mendocino County. 

With its rich geological history, this area has been a favorite for those into gem hunting in California, offering a chance to find this unique stone.

To dig it out, you’ll typically need a rock hammer and a chisel. While Nephrite is the primary type of Jade found in California, it’s always good to double-check your finds. After finding a potential piece, a simple tip is to touch it; Nephrite usually feels cold, even in warm weather.

Many people believe that having or wearing Nephrite can help heal the heart physically and mentally. It’s also said to bring good luck, making it a favorite among people who want more luck.

Petrified Wood

Petrified Wood on a white background

The Agate Flat area in Siskiyou County and the multiple ocean beaches in Crescent City are known to house pieces of Petrified Wood. Some crystal mines in California, especially those in the desert regions, occasionally yield this unique stone, making the hunt even more exciting.

Depending on the minerals present during its formation, the colors can range from browns and tans to reds and even blues. 

A rock hammer and chisel are your best friends to extract larger pieces. Once you’ve found a potential piece, a good step is to get it. Doing so can enhance its colors and patterns, giving you a clearer view of its beauty.

It’s also thought to connect its bearer to nature and Earth’s energies, promoting patience, understanding, and spiritual growth. Petrified Wood is a cherished companion for those looking to feel more rooted and in tune with the world around them.

Platinum Nuggets

Platinum Nugget stone on a white background
Image Source: Wikimedia.org | Robert M. Lavinsky

For those who love gem hunting in California, finding a Platinum Nugget is like striking gold, but even rarer! Platinum, a precious metal, can be found in specific spots across the state. One of the most notable places is along the Trinity River in Eureka.

Some crystal mines in California, especially in the northern regions, have been known to yield these valuable nuggets.

Usually, you’ll need a pan, like you’d use to pan for gold, and a small bucket to store your finds. When you’ve found a piece, it’s a good idea to check how much it weighs. Platinum is heavier than it looks, so you might be onto something if your nugget feels heavy for its size.

Platinum is believed to balance the body’s energies and amplify inner strength. It’s also regarded as a symbol of determination, resilience, and prosperity.


a polished serpentine crystal on a white background

This gem is often found in places like Shady Run in Placer County. It’s also common in areas with a history of volcanoes. Locals and visitors love it because it’s linked to California’s natural history.

When searching for Serpentine, its variety of colors is one of its standout features. From deep greens to blacks and even yellows, Serpentine can be surprised with its diverse appearance. A rock hammer and chisel are typically the tools of choice to extract this stone. 

Finding a high-quality piece can be especially rewarding. Once you’ve identified a potential piece of Serpentine, examine its texture and color closely, ensuring you’ve found a genuine specimen.

Serpentine crystal is thought to aid in meditation and spiritual exploration, making it a favorite for those on a journey of self-discovery. Its connection to Earth’s energies is believed to provide its bearer strength, guidance, and clarity to its bearer.

Graphic Table about Gemstones in the State of California.

How to Do Rockhounding in California 

Keep in mind that while this guide provides valuable insights, regulations and conditions may vary from state to state, so always ensure you’re familiar with California’s specific rules and guidelines before embarking on your rockhounding adventure.

Tools and Gear You Need to Dig and Find Crystals in California

Rockhounding adventure in California requires proper equipment to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience. Equipping yourself with the right tools will enhance your chances of finding stunning crystals and keep you safe during your exploration.

  • Rockhounding Hammer and Chisels: Essential for safely extracting gems from host rocks, allowing you to collect specimens without causing damage.
  • Gloves and Eye Protection: Shield your hands and eyes from sharp edges and debris while working with rocks and tools.
  • Containers and Bags: Securely carry your treasures home using sturdy containers or bags to prevent breakage or loss.
  • Field Guide and Map: Identify gems and locate productive areas for more fruitful hunts.
  • Sturdy Footwear and Clothing: Protect yourself from uneven terrains and environmental elements.

How to Pack, Transport, and Cut Crystals You Find

Once you’ve uncovered your gemstone treasures during your rockhounding journey in California, proper handling and preparation becomes crucial. Packing, transporting, and potentially cutting your crystals require careful attention to preserve their beauty and integrity.

  • Padding and Cushioning: Prevent breakage during transportation using foam or bubble wrap to create a protective barrier around your crystals.
  • Proper Labeling: Ensure accurate records by labeling each specimen with details like the date and location of discovery.
  • Lapidary Equipment: If you’re interested in shaping and polishing your gems, consider investing in lapidary equipment, such as saws and polishers.
  • Safety Gear: Wear goggles and gloves when cutting or shaping crystals.
  • Safety Packaging: Use sturdy boxes and padding to keep your crystals safe during transit.

Safety Regulations and Mining Laws for Rockhounding in California

Familiarizing yourself with these rules will help you have a responsible and enjoyable rockhounding experience in California.

  • Respect Private Property: Always obtain permission from landowners before entering any private lands for rockhounding activities.
  • National and State Parks: Adhere to park regulations, which may include restrictions on collecting to preserve the environment.
  • Safety Precautions: Wear appropriate clothing, bring ample water, and remain cautious of uneven terrain and potential hazards to ensure a safe outing.
  • Research Local Regulations: Check country-specific regulations that may impact your rockhounding activities.

Tips for Rockhounding Like a Pro in California

These insights will boost your odds of discovering exceptional specimens and enrich your overall journey in the world of rockhounding.

  • Research Locations: Study geological maps and online forums to discover prime collecting spots that align with your interests.
  • Join Local Clubs: Connect with experienced rockhounds for knowledge sharing and collaborative expeditions.
  • Document Your Finds: Capture photographs and detailed notes to aid your learning journey and create lasting memories.
  • Practice Ethical Collecting: Follow the “Leave No Trace” principle and collect responsibly to preserve natural beauty.
  • Learn from Experts: Attend workshops and events to learn advanced techniques and insights from experienced rockhounders.

Remember that rockhounding regulations and guidelines can differ not only from state to state but also from site to site within the same state. Always research and adhere to local rules and regulations, prioritize safety, and respect the environment and private property.


What Gemstones are Found in California?

California is home to various gemstones, including Benitoite, Agate, Jade, Serpentine, and more.

Does California Have Gemstones?

Yes, California boasts diverse gemstones, making it a treasure trove for rockhounding enthusiasts.

Where in California Can You Mine for Gems?

You can mine for gems in various locations across California, including San Benito County, Siskiyou County, and coastal areas like Crescent City.

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