About The Collector title image

The Collector is an unusual shop showcasing fine jewelry, mineral specimens and objets d’art. Its story is a fascinating one.
In 1968, gem and mineral connoisseur, William Larson, formed what later became Pala International and purchased three San Diego County gem mines: the Stewart Lithia, Tourmaline Queen, and Pala Chief. Located in the foothills of northern San Diego County, these mines are part of a local mining history dating back to the 1800s.

The Collector Interior photo image
The Collector in Fallbrook, California is an Aladdin’s cave of treasures.

The most important gem mined here is tourmaline. Gemstone production during the early 1900s exceeded two million dollars, with American, European and Oriental gem houses actively involved, including Tiffany’s, who had part-time buyers in the Pala and Mesa Grande mining districts. Chinese were particularly fond of tourmaline, and large quantities were shipped to China for use in carvings and on mandarin clothing.

Collector Gift Items photo image
In addition to fine jewelry and mineral specimens, the Collector features beautiful and unusual gift items from around the world.

With the emergence of Pala International in the late 1960s, organized mining was again on the upswing. Although the Stewart Lithia produced small pockets of tourmaline, it was not until 1972, with a strike at the Tourmaline Queen, that the true potential was revealed. In what was one of the finds of the century, large gemmy tourmaline crystals were unearthed. The “Candelabra,” an exceptional piece from that strike, is now on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.

Mine Tunnel photo image
One of the most interesting features of the Collector in Fallbrook is the recreation of a mine tunnel, complete with pegmatite (white band).
Pegmatite Pocket photo image A reassembled gem pocket can be found in the mine tunnel, featuring tourmaline crystals growing in conjunction with quartz.

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