Semi-Precious Big Sur

Semi-Precious Big Sur Jade

Big Sur Jade

Left: Seed Sprout in two-tone Big Sur jade. Right: Sea Unicorn in Big Sur blue jade.
Photo courtesy: Matthew Glasby

The wild coast holds a cache of blue-green beauty.

By Jill K. Robinson

Big Sur's rugged beauty inspired painter Francis McComas to call it "the greatest meeting of land and water in the world." It's also home to nephrite jade, found in a concentrated deposit along parts of Big Sur's south coast. Some of the jade can be spied on land, but the greatest treasure is underwater — and there are rules about collecting it that include weight limits and the types of tools allowed.

While stumbling across a jade stone on the beach is a rock hound' dream, consider a specimen carved by world-renowned artist Matthew Glasby, who creates jewelry, spectacular woven designs, and fantastical creatures that look as if they could come alive in an instant. At the annual Big Sur Jade Festival, one of the largest lapidary shows of its type in the world held each October, discover even more artists and a wealth of stones that range in size from tiny to tremendous.