California Mineral Trivia
California Division of Mines and Geology
Lithosphere (April 1994);
Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Society, Inc.; Fallbrook, CA
Do you know . . .
- What is California's official State Mineral?
- What is California's official State Gem?
- What is California's official State Rock?
- What is California's official State Fossil?
See the answers below . . .
- On April 23, 1965, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Sr. signed
legislation designating native gold as
California's official State mineral. In 1848, gold was discovered
at Sutter's Mill on the American River. California became the
31st state of the Union in 1850 because of the gold rush and
the influx of settlers. The gold brought California fame and gave
it the title "The Golden State." The aesthetic and practical uses
of gold pre-date history. Gold's physical and chemical properties
make it desirable in art and industry. Its color and luster have
stimulated its use in monetary transactions for thousands of years.
The most important use of gold today is in electronic devices,
particularly in computers, weaponry, and spacecraft. It is ductile
and its resistance to corrosion and tarnish is unequaled. Therefore,
gold is used where consistent, reliable performance under all
conditions is essential.
- On October 1, 1985, benitoite was designated
the official State gem by the California legislature. Benitoite
crystals are usually rich blue and can be cut into gems as striking
and flawless as the finest sapphires. Gem-quality benitoite is found
only in a small area of San Benito County, California. The
scarcity of this gem makes it primarily a collector's item. A
minor amount of high-quality benitoite is used in aligning
electron microprobe beams. Benitoite was discovered in 1906
by J. M. Couch at the now well-known Benitoite Gem mine in
San Benito County. Jewelers, unable to identify the mineral,
requested the expertise of George Davis Louderback, a
mineralogy professor at the University of California at
Berkeley. Louderback determined that the mineral was a new
species and named it benitoite after the river, mountain peak,
and county where it was found.
- Serpentine is a colorful and distinctive
altered igneous rock that has characteristic shiny surfaces in
various shades of green and blue. Abundant in central and northern
California, it was designated the official State rock in 1965. It
is sold by gem and mineral dealers and is the host rock for valuable
deposits of asbestos, chromite, and other commercial mineral commodities.
- The sabre-tooth cat,
Smilodon californicus, still roamed North America 11,000
years ago. In January 1974, the extinct lion-size cat became the
official State fossil of California. Most of its fossilized remains
in California are found at the Rancho La Brea pits in Los Angeles.
The preceding article was published in the April 1994
issue of Lithosphere, the official bulletin of the
Fallbrook [California] Gem and Mineral Society, Inc; Richard Busch
The material is in the public domain, and may be republished freely.
Last updated: 18 September 2002