Meet Our Staff
Meet Our Staff
Pala International prides itself on having the finest staff in the colored stone and 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.
Pala’s Vice President, Josh Hall, brings over 40 years of hands-on trade experience to the company. Josh has a BS degree in Natural Resources from Humbolt State University. Upon graduation he joined Pala in 1976. In the early 1980s, he was one of two gem dealers selected to evaluate the gem collection of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Josh is the engine that drives Pala day in and day out. No one knows colored stones better. He has seen it all and today is recognized as an authority on colored stone prices and, indeed, is one of the industry experts that is consulted for compiling wholesale gem prices for The GemGuide.
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.
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.
Carl's passion for the finest gems and minerals was ignited at a very young age and it has only grown from there. Working alongside his father Bill Larson for many years provided extensive, valuable knowledge and experience, which naturally led him to the Gemological Institute of America, receiving his Graduate Gemologist degree in 2013. He has also studied and assisted curating the gem collection at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris, broadening his knowledge and experience. His keen eye for top quality stones has been developed since birth and was fine-tuned by his ongoing education and pursuit of the world's best gems and minerals.