Isabella Burns of Monterey Park bought herself some benitoite about eight years ago. Benitoite is not an obscure Italian foot ointment. It's the new California state gem.
Burns mounted her benitoite stone herself, in gold. "I love to wear it," she said. "It has the iridescence of a diamond, and it's far sparklier than a sapphire. It's blue, almost periwinkle blue."
The mineral barium titanium silicate, which is found in gem quality only in San Benito County, west of Fresno, was named the official state gemstone --official as of Jan. 1--because no other gem is unique to California.