Lake County Diamonds: Our Unique Gemstone

Dispersed across many of our fields and along roadsides are sparkling Lake County diamonds. They glitter and gleam after a nice rain shower, just begging to be picked up, collected, displayed or even faceted into jewelry. In fact, some local jewelers will facet the diamonds for you to wear. Usually clear, Lake County diamond specimens are sometimes lavender or reddish in color. These beauties, not true diamonds, are considered semi-precious stones, having a rating of 7.8 to 8 on the Moh’s Scale of Hardness. Real diamonds rate a 10.  These gems played a part in Lake County history in  Pomo mythology, and were used in some Indigenous burial ceremonies. Later on, the diamonds were mined for industrial purposes. The Lake County Museum says,  “Lake County diamonds were called “Moon Tears” because they are supposed to be the tears the Moon shed when she fell in love with a young Pomo Chieftain, and her brother, the Sun made her go back into the sky. Lake County Diamonds were placed on burial mounds by some tribes to protect the spirits of the newly departed from evil spirits or demons, who love the darkness and when they saw the ‘moon tears’  would think the moon was shining and go away.”

 The Featherbed Railroad B & B website tells the story of the 1929 commercial diamond mine which operated in Lake County as the Clear Lake Gem Mining Company. The mine was formed by Mr. Garrett, who hired an Alaskan gold miner who ascertained that a tunnel that was excavated yielded beautiful, bright stones. Unfortunately, the mining operation, like much of the country back then,  hit hard times and it had to shut down.

Lake County diamonds were formed due to the high temperatures of Mount Konocti’s eruptions of long ago. Our dormant volcano, which is over 4,000 feet in height displayed pyroclastic flows, which were approximately 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat made it possible for the quartz specimens, with their light-transmitting properties, to create the lustrous crystals we see today.

 Rockhounds love Lake County. Not only do they love discovering Lake County diamonds, but there is a profusion of other rocks and minerals to discover as well, due to the Lake Volcanic Field. You can find chert, travertine, obsidian, onyx, jade, clamshell fossils, and more! Both the Gibson Museum and Cultural Center and the Lakeport Courthouse Museum hold many exquisite specimens for you to enjoy. Lake County diamonds have been found in Hidden Valley, Seigler Canyon Road, Perini Hill, Six Sigma Ranch and other areas. As you scout around Lake County for diamonds and other rocks and minerals be sure to stay safe along the roadsides and do not trespass on private property.  Rock on!

Kathleen Scavone

Kathleen Scavone, MA., is a retired educator who has resided in beautiful Lake County for over 45 years. She freelances fiction, poetry, nature writing, curriculum ideas, and local history. She writes for The Press Democrat, Napa Valley Register, News From Native California, Green Prints, etc. She has published three books, a play and a poetry chapbook. The second edition of her locally set historical novella, People of the Water- a novella of the events leading to the Bloody Island Massacre of 1850 is available in local museums and stores, as well as on Amazon.com and IngramSpark in both paperback and e-book formats. She has written Anderson Marsh State Historic Park- A Walking History, Prehistory, Flora and Fauna tour of a California State Park, and Native Americans of Lake County. Kathleen is a photographer and potter. Her other interests include hiking, assisting on archaeology digs, travel, gardening and reading.

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