Meet Our Staff
Pala International prides itself on having the finest staff in the mineral industry, bar none. With over a century of combined industry experience, no other company can offer you the same level of expertise.
The President of Pala International, William Larson, is one of the world’s most knowledgeable gem and mineral experts. Starting from a small mineral collection at age ten, he has built one of the planet’s finest mineral collections in private hands. And along with that, he has built Pala International into one of America’s great colored stone houses.
After graduating with a degree in Geological Engineering from the prestigious Colorado School of Mines, Bill started Pala International in 1967. Today he travels the globe several times each year, bringing back both fine gemstones and mineral specimens.
For a full biography of Bill, along with his wife, Jeanne, see Meet the Larsons: Pala’s Globe-trotting Collectors.
Biographical sketch forthcoming.
Mia Dixon took charge of the camera shutter upon the departure of in-house photographer Wimon Manorotkul in late September 2008. (We were told by Wimon that Mia was a quick learner, as tips of the craft were passed on while they worked together.)
Mia first started at Pala International back in 2002 as the Administrative Assistant. She left the company in July of 2004 to raise her first child.
In July of 2008 she joined the team again as the resident photographer, mostly of gemstones but also some shots of mineral specimens. Mia is working part-time so she still can enjoy spending time with her beautiful boys Erik and Axel.
Mia Dixon was born and raised in the area of Gothenburg (aka Göteborg), the trade, educational, and cultural center of southwestern Sweden. She first arrived in California in 1994. Mia received her Associate’s Degree in Fashion Merchandising & Design in 1996 from Palomar College in nearby San Marcos, California.
After two years in the Peace Corps in Peru, John McLean joined Pala International in 1971, and has been in charge of Pala’s mining and mineral division ever since. At one time or another, John has worked virtually every important gem deposit in San Diego County, including the Stewart, the Tourmaline Queen, and the Himalaya.
In addition to John’s mining talents, he also excels at mineral specimen preparation and mineral photography. A master of mineral aesthetics, John has brought out the hidden beauty in specimens now gracing the greatest mineral collections in the world, including the Smithsonian, American Museum of Natural History, the Carnegie and the LA County Museum.
Jason Stephenson joined the Pala team in October of 2006. His path in the gem and mineral world began with a Bachelors of Science degree in Geology from the University of Idaho in 1999. He then earned his Graduate Gemology degree from the Gemological Institute of America in 2000 and quickly became involved in the gem trade.
Jason has worked on the wholesale and retail side of the business, and has been involved with the buying and selling of jewelry, gemstones, and mineral specimens.
At Pala, along with sales, Jason has been contributing to the growth of information on Palagems.com, by researching and writing about the ever changing landscape of gem materials.