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Looking for gems in Jalisco’s bountiful opal country

The town of Magdalena, located about 75 kilometers northwest of Guadalajara, is famous for opals.

pg8aBut if you’d like to see where these opals come from, you have to leave Magdalena and head up into the hills until you come to San Simon, a small pueblo in the middle of nowhere.

You’ll know you’re in opal territory the moment you walk down any side street in the pueblo because every wall you see is built of pink lajas, flat slabs of rock left over from the opal-mining process.

Javier Lopez Mata lives in San Simon and is one of the most successful opal miners around. We caught up with him one morning in his Opals of Mexico store in Magdalena. The walls of this shop are alive with brightly colored opals. Inside the store, you can find these precious stones au naturel, set in jewelry, or imaginatively worked into obsidian sculptures.

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