When we talk about mining in California, itís no surprise that gold is what most people think of first. This state was built on gold, and miners converged on this once wild place in search of fortunes untold.
In the process, these miners also discovered a few other minerals. And although not nearly as widespread, they are every bit as valuable. I am talking about diamonds and platinum.
Both of these valuable minerals have been found in California.
Letís take a look at the documented discoveries of these rare minerals. They are exceptionally rare, but knowing more about where they have already been found might help lead you to areas to start your hunt.
The diamonds found in California are still somewhat of a mystery. Their occurrences are unlike most other diamond deposits found around the world. Rather than occurring within a hard rock source, all of the diamonds found have come from alluvial placer deposits. The original source of their formation is still up to some debate.
The most abundant source of diamonds were found at Cherokee Flat in Butte County. This was actually an old gold mine, but the early miners soon started finding small clear and yellowish stones.
Keep in mind these miners were looking for gold, and although there were some consideration that these could possibly be diamonds, the gold was of primary concern. When it was finally determined that these were indeed diamonds it is almost certain that many hundreds or even thousands of these stones had already been washed away and lost forever.
Other documented diamond occurrences have been made in areas throughout the Sierra Nevadas. Several discoveries have been made around Placerville. Other diamonds have been found in Nevada County and Amador County. All of these were found as an afterthought by gold miners.
Diamond placers have been found even further north in the Klamath River
and Trinity River
. The diamonds are small and not of gem-grade.
There are lots of mystery and stories about the diamonds of California. Some reports say that DeBeers bought out many of the potential diamond producing mines in the state to protect the source to protect their stronghold on the industry.
Most experts agree that California doesnít really offer much in the way commercial diamond mining opportunities. Only a few hundred individual gem-grade diamonds have been found in the state. Nearly all of them were found by accident by gold miners. Going out with the intention of actually finding one of these stones would be much like finding a needle in a haystack.
Platinum is actually somewhat widespread across California, but in very small quantities. Much like the diamonds, it was recovered by miners while they searched for gold. Most often, the platinum recovered was a tiny fraction compared to the gold, but the heavy white metal was still intriguing.
Butte County had some decent platinum occurrences at the Spring Valley hydraulic mine. Miners would find the white metal in the final cleanup of their gold operations.
There were a few areas in Plumas County that produced platinum. Nelson Creek was probably the best known and it even produced some larger pieces. An early report says the biggest piece was the size of a bean.
The Trinity River around Junction City is worth special attention. This area has long been known to produce platinum as well as gold. What makes it particularly interesting is that early reports mention solid platinum nuggets that weighed in at 2.5 troy ounces
. This is exceptionally rare!
Minor occurrences of this valuable white metal have also been found in the Feather River
, Klamath River, and many streams of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is almost always small particles that blend in amongst the black sands. The occurrence is widespread, but focusing efforts to find platinum alone would probably be fruitless in most areas.
Gold is still king in California, but there are also an abundance of different gems and minerals that you can find throughout the state. Put in the effort and you might just get rewarded with a rare find!NEXT: 10 Free Gold Panning Areas in California