FAQ

If you do not see the answer to your questions here, please email us.

What ages are your Party Packages for?
Our parties are enjoyed by young and old alike. Since patience will be needed to go thru the gravel, the youngest we recommend is 7 years old.

Would my daughter like this type of party?
The answer is YES. Boys are not the only treasure hunters out there. With boys it is not only looking for the gemstones, but the fossils and other rocks that can be found. We have seen many girls that like the hunt to, but where the boys want the sapphires for specimens, most girls want them for jewelry.

Are these Sapphire Treasure Hunts only for birthday parties?
No. These hunts can be used for any occasion, birthdays, graduations, holiday parties, family gathering, work parties etc... If you want to add excitement to any event, add a sapphire hunt. They are also a great activity for Scouts and other social clubs.

How long will it take a child to go thru a Party Pack?
The 2 1/2 pound Party pack take anywhere for 30 to 45 minutes to properly go thru.

I would like to order Party Packages in larger sizes, are they available?
We can put together any size package you would like. Please email us with the size you want for a price quote.

I would like a high quality sapphire added to my child's Party Pack, can this be done?
Your potential of finding a gem quality sapphire is very good in any of our sapphire packages. We always have on hand extra sapphire rough stones in varying quality. So if you would like something added in addition to the usual add, please send us an email with what you would like and we will send you a price quote.

Must we do this type of hunt outside in the sunlight?
Natural sunlight is always the best way to find your sapphire in the gravel, but if it is a cloudy or rainy day, you can search inside under a very good light source. It can be a bit messy though, so be prepared for some dripping water or rocks on your floor.

How do I find sapphires in the gravel?
Please see our How To Page.

Are sapphires valuable?
Sapphires are one of the world's four precious gems, making them highly valuable. A ruby is also one of the four precious gems, and ruby and sapphire are the same mineral, corundum. It is estimated that Gem Quality sapphires are approximately 4 times rarer than diamonds. Their value is based on the 4 C's- color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. These 4 factors determine the finished value of your faceted sapphire. Good quality rough sapphire can also be worth $10 to $100 per carat. Clean Sapphires with good color can be worth $100 to $1000 per carat and more, finished. An expert gem cutter to cut your sapphire and an appraisal once the stone is finished can even raise the value higher. Large sapphires finished, one to four carat and bigger, can be up to $1,000-$5,000 a carat!!

I have found a very red stone, is it a red sapphire or ruby?
Red sapphire and ruby can be found, although it is rare. You are more than likely looking at a garnet which can also be faceted into a nice semi-precious gemstone.

Am I guaranteed to find sapphires in my gravel?
Ask any miner of gems or precious metals, and they will all tell you there are no guarantees! However, our job is to increase the odds that you will have fun and are successful in your mining. In all our Sapphire gravel offerings, we introduce additional sapphires to increase your odds of finding gemstones. We cannot give guarantees, as once the bags have left our hands, there is no way of knowing what the customer finds, or whether they have missed any in their search, but we have many happy repeat customers. You can check out our Ebay feedback to see what other buyers have found.

What do I do with my sapphires after I find them?
You may keep them as specimens, or you can have them faceted into gemstones to be put into jewelry.

Can I send the sapphires or gemstone rough to you for faceting?
Unfortunately we do not do faceting at Capistrano Mining Company. We do however use the services of a few great companies for our faceting needs. Please see our links page for our faceting recommendations.

How long does faceting take?
Depending on if you have it cut in the U.S. or overseas, the time involved does vary from about 4 weeks up to 12 weeks. If you want your sapphire heat treated, you can add another 4 weeks to the cutting time.

If I have a 3 carat rough sapphire, will I get a 3 carat faceted sapphire back after cutting?
No. Usually you can expect to lose up to 2/3 of a stones weight when faceted. All the major imperfections in a stone must be cut out and the stone must be shaped for the best light refraction. In doing this the cutter may have to cut or grind away up to 2/3 of the stone's original weight to create that perfect gem for you. Please look at our Faceting Page to see how a sapphire is faceted.

How much does faceting cost?
It depends on what you want for your end result. Good faceting can be done at low cost with overseas cutters. This cost can be a low as $15.00 per finished carat weight of stones that finish cutting at 1 carat and above, but depending on how many sapphire you have cut, the cost can come down to as low as $5.00 per stone. But for large, great quality stones, there is no better choice than to use a cutter here in the US. The price is much higher, starting around $50 per stone on up depending on the stone's finished weight. For my best stones, I can pay as much as $400 for a remarkable quality cut and appraisal.

What is heat treating, and do I want my sapphires to be heat treated?
Heat treating is when gemstones are heated at very high temperature for anywhere from 3 days up to 6 weeks. This process can clean up silky / foggy stones and deepen the colors, but it can also sometimes fracture a nice stone or introduce a color in a stone that was not seen naturally. Many people love the deep color sapphires, most do not realize that these deep colors are rarely natural. The natural Montana sapphire is generally light in color. Heat treating is usually a personal preference, since deep color sapphires do sell better, but a beautiful natural stone can be worth much more.

Once my sapphire or gemstone has been faceted, do you set the stones in jewelry?
We do not do any settings or jewelry design. We do have a fantastic Jewelry Designer that we use. You can contact them directly to discuss how you would like to have your stone or stones set. Contact John Pereira at Pereira's Jewelry & Design (559) 924-4052. Tell them Wayne at Capistrano Mining Company sent you.

Are your Gemstones Authentic?
I stake my reputation on it!
Almost all of the Benitoite, Montana Sapphire and California Tourmaline I sell is personally collected by myself. So I know exactly what I have and what I am selling. Other gemstones from around the world, are purchased from highly respected dealers from around the world. But with anything you purchase, mistakes can happen from time to time. Every item I sell is 100% guaranteed. Should you find that I have made a mistake in the listing for any gemstone you have purchased from me, just contact me and return the stone for a full refund. 

If you would like to have your gemstone purchase certified by GIA, I can offer this for $190 per sapphire, emerald or ruby and $150 for all other gemstones including benitoite. Please understand that this will delay shipping of your purchase by 2 to 3 weeks. I will personally drive your stone to the GIA Headquarters in Carlsbad, CA,  pick it up when it has been certified, and then ship it to you. Please contact me prior to making your purchase if you wish to purchase a certification.

What is your Lifetime Guarantee? 

Since I dig most of the rough crystals that I have cut for sale, I know exactly where they come from. Since I also send them to only top end cutters in the United States, I know for a fact that no treatment of any type is used on these gems. So on any gemstone purchased from me, just save your original reciept, and if at any time in the future, you find that the gem you were sold is not the exact gem as advertised, just contact me with the proof, a copy of your original purchase invoice, and I will fully refund the price of the stone.

What are your shipping charges?

We always try to keep shipping costs as low as possible and never charge any handling fees. All items are shipped USPS Priority Mail Flat rate boxes within the United States, with tracking and all items over $50 are insurued. I always combine shipping when possible to save you money. I can fit many different combinations of items into a single box, but larger orders will require multiple boxes. Since there are so many shipping variations these days, sometimes my shipping calculator is off. If my shipping calculator has made a mistake in the shipping amount, I will refund you back the difference.

Do you ship internationally?
Yes, we ship all over the world. International buyers must first contact us for a proper shipping quote before placing their order. Send us an email with what you would like to purchase and the quantity, then I can give you a proper quote.  We only ship using US Postal Service. We use the flat rate boxes and can ship up to 20 lbs in one box starting at about $25.00 USD for Canada and Mexico, and $60.00 for most other countries around the world. Larger quantities will need multiple boxes. We always declare full value on customs forms. Buyer must pay with PayPal account or Credit Card thru our PayPal check out system. If you issue payment before you email us, then if shipping is more, we will issue an invoice for the additional shipping costs and will hold shipment of your order until the invoice is paid.

How quickly will I get my order?
We always try to ship within 48 hours. We do however travel to the mines about 1 week every month. Always check the top of our home page, this is where we post if we are out of town and let customers know when shipping will occur.

What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept mail order payment with Postal money orders, PayPal payments and Credit Card payments through PayPal (no account required , for buyers within the United States. International buyers must pay for orders using a credit card or PayPal.

Do you take phone orders?
Sorry, but we no longer take orders over the phone. Please register on the website and add your items to your cart. Then proceed to checkout where you can pay by PayPal, credit card or check "print mail order form" to  print out a purchase order to be mailed in with your payment. If you print a mail order form, the form along with your payment must be received within 7 days. If payment is not received within 7 days, the item will be put back into inventory for someone else to purchase. 

Why was my order canceled?
Some of our items have limited quantities or are one of a kind. We urge our customers to pay for your purchase right after you register and are finished shopping. If an order is placed and we do not receive payment via credit card or PayPal within 48 hrs., then our system automatically cancels the order, unless you have chosen to print a mail order form. You can always go back and reorder if the items are still available.

What is your return policy?
Due to the nature of the product and the eyes of the searcher, we cannot accept returns on any gravel search product. On any Mineral Specimen or cut Gemstone purchased from me, I offer full refund of your purchase price if you do not like your purchase for any reason, however you must contact me within 7 days of receiving your item, let me know you will be returning the item, send it back promptly within 7 days, and received your refund once the item has been received by me.  There is a 15% restocking charge on "Special Orders" only, not on regular purchases.