Are “sand rubies” just an Arizona thing?

When I was a kid, one of my favorite outdoor activities was digging for what we in the schoolyard called “sand rubies.” Now, this might just be specific to the Sonoran Desert, where I grew up, but maybe some of you have had similar experiences.

Basically, when you dig down in the sand, past the light stuff down to where it gets harder, if you look long and hard enough, you’ll start to see these tiny red stones, which I believe are actually some form of compressed iron or garnets. Kids used to collect them, and you could find them in just about any part of the city.

It gets me to thinking. It’s sad that when we grow up we stop digging around in the dirt and looking closely at stuff. There could be tiny diamonds all over your back yard and you might never notice, but a kid damn well would. Kids pay attention to this kind of thing.

Update: A reader named Jerry offered further information:

“According to above site, sand rubies are also found in New Mexico and Colorado.”

Thanks, Jerry!