Peru contains some of the most amazing stones in South America.
In this article, you’ll learn more about the geology of Peru.
Types of Rocks in Peru: A Guide
The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.
Peru can be an exciting place for rock and gem collectors.
The famous blue and pink opals and pyrites are exciting finds, but you may also find impressive veins of epidote, apatite, leopard stone and serpentinite.
Mining in Peru has been subject to a lot of legislation. Gold mining has had devastating effects on the rain forest.
Some types of mining have been completely banned.
There are many large and small exporters of Peruvian gems, minerals and rocks and many of these stunning stones are available through these vendors.
Fossils are common targets for collectors in Peru, be sure to hire an experienced trustworthy guide when you go fossil hunting.
Blue & Pink Opal
The most famous gemstones from Peru are the Blue and Pink Opal.
These unique stones are a rare color of opal that can be found in the Lily Mine, Pisco Umay, Ica Peru.
These stones were first found during copper mining in the country in 1993.
These stones fluoresce under black light and can sometimes be found washed down the Andes in river beds.
There are two classifications of Opal; common opal and precious opal.
Precious opal has a variety of colors and tones and forms from microscopic crystal spheres.
Common opal can have some milky color variation but lacks the interplay of colors in precious opal.
The blue and pink opals found in Peru are common opals by this classification, but the blue and pink colors are very rare.
This classification of common makes the beautiful stones affordable, but still rare and beautiful.
Peruvian Opal is some of the most beautiful in the world and it is surprisingly affordable.
The stone can be purchased tumbled, as beads or as raw stones.
Serpentinite is named after its snake-like appearance. The stone is green and appears to have scales.
This fine gained smooth stone has a greasy luster and a deep green color.
These stones are often made of olivine and they have white veining in a folding pattern.
Serpentinite is not a rare stone, and is easily recognizable by the green color and white veins.
Serpentinite has been found in Huancayo, Peru which is located at the foot of the Andes Mountain range.
Pyrite is sometimes called fool’s gold because it has the same brassy color and bright luster as gold.
Pyrite forms crystals with lines or striations on the crystals.
The crystals can be cubic and often form in quartz and coal deposits.
There have been many types of pyrite specimens found in the Huanzala Mines in central Peru.
The formations are a collection of crystals that form a large pyrite deposit.
Epidote is a deep olive green semi transparent crystal that has been found in Peru.
The beautiful crystals have a long prismatic habit.
The crystals look like a bundle of needlelike dark green crystals.
The crystals can be found in parts of the Andes mountain and they generally form in veins, pay close attention to any dark green areas in rocks and explore the surrounding area.
This gem collector was able to uncover an enormous vein in Peru.
Sodalite is a beautiful deep blue ornamental gemstone. The blue color comes from the presence of aluminum.
The stone is traditionally blue, but can also be pink, yellow, gray or green.
The stone is named for its sodium content which makes this mineral relatively fragile.
The rock is often found in large veins in Canada, but smaller veins have been discovered in Peru and Brazil.
Leopard Skin Jasper
Leopard Skin Jasper is also known as Leopard Stone and it refers to a jasper sample that has a spotted appearance.
This is a type of banded jasper.
The stones are tumbled and are cleaned frequently because they are very polished.
The stone is not a geological categorization but more of a descriptive name for the polished stones or beads.
Chrysocolla is a striking blue rock that gets its stunning color from the presence of copper in the stone.
The stone occurs in areas where copper and quartz are present. These conditions exist in many of the copper mines in Peru.
The stone is mostly silica, but the composition of the stone can vary widely making the properties of the stone difficult to nail down.
The hardness of the stone can range from 2 to 7 and generally the darker the blue the softer the stone.
Chrysocolla is a bit more abundant than turquoise and it is often used in silver jewelry for centuries.
Special Note: Fossils
There is a large area of the Ocucaje desert in Peru where many fossils have been found.
Be careful to choose a reputable tour guide if you choose to go fossil hunting. Get as much information as possible before departure and check local laws about removing fossils.
There are often shark teeth fossils found in this area.
If you prefer a more tame experience, visit the Natural History Museum in Maria Jesus, Peru. You can see many fossils on display and safely purchase souvenirs at the gift shop.
There is also a permanent gem and mineral display.
Rocks in Peru
Peru is home to many precious and semi-precious stones and lapidary is thriving and the beads, polished stones, raw stones and jewelry are not only sold in Peru, but shipped all over the world.
Many of the best places to look for these rocks are in remote areas of the Andes and the valleys in this mountain range.
There are several National Parks and private lands where collecting and removing rocks can result in fines or jail time.
Be sure to obey all posted signage and local laws when collecting or removing any rocks, sand or shells.
Whenever possible hire a reputable local guide when going into remote areas of Peru. A local guide may also have the inside scoop on the best areas for rock hunting in Peru.
There are laws that specifically concern fossils or possible fossil containing rocks being removed from Peru, so be sure to collect only where the law allows.