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Semi-precious stones on the beach

Semi-precious stones on the beach

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Published by Jonn Smalberg

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Published by: Jonn Smalberg on Jun 21, 2011
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06/21/2011

 
Patrick, a Swiss German guy my agetold me about a "gem" beach betweenhere and Akorara on the Banks peninsulathat is a good place to find jade and jasper, and hardly anyone is on the beach, and at low tide, near sunset, thegems gleam near the waterline. After  polishing, and setting, they are suitable jewelry.I returned to Lyttelton, after collectingmore agates at Birdlings Flat.There I had an expert help me cull mycollection so I only keep the good stuff.The next day I drove into Christchurchto get another opinion from a "rock shop". I've got a good selection of agates, crystallites, petrified wood, and jasper. He gave me the recipe for  polishing them. Then he advised whereto find more - just south of Kaikoura,and in the Coramandel . He - advisedchecking the Mining Museum in ThamesThought I'd give it a rest - so I didn't sailor paraglide today, but did some beachcombing for more rocks - found afew pieces of petrified wood just southof Kaikoura. I've got some nice samplesof all those, including agate, jasper, etc.Makes a good outdoor hobby where theonly danger is dodging surf. I'vediscovered quite a few amateur rock collectors - some specialize in prettystones, others fossils, others petrifiedwood.The drive north from Thames toCoramandal City was on a narrow, curvyroad that followed the seashore withsteep cliffs on one side, and a direct dropto the sea on the other.There were lots of streams feeding the sea. I stopped oftento look for interesting rocks, found Kaurigum, Jasper, and lots of quartz crystals.While stopping for gas in CoramandalCity, the lady proprietor told me of several good locations near Colville. Itwas a fun, but unproductive searcharound the bay, somewhat like fishing -sometimes you find 'em - sometimes youdon't.The Mineral Museum in Thames is openonly on Sundays now, so I had to do alittle detective work to find the localgeologists/gemologist. I went to thetourist Gold mine, and the guide gaveme the name and directions to, a localenthusiast. He is a spry little man, a biteccentric, but very knowledgeable. After assessing my collection, he gave medirections to a rugged path near a stream,where I could prospect for gold. Hesuggested a list of tools and supplies, to be found at the local hardware store,then with a twinkle in his eye he said,"Then, of course, you'll need a pack horse to carry your tools and the oreyou'll find!" Ha! He's been helpful toamateur tourists before, I'd bet. Asked if there really were gold veins in "themthar hills", he said, with another twinkled eye, "If you see it, it's withoutquestion, there."So off to the hardware store, and bookstore. Bought a small pick hammer,a magnifying glass, and "Phillips Guideto Gems" an illustrated guide to theidentification of gemstones describingthe geology, chemistry and property of gems, with a color key, and illustrationsof the crystal (raw rock), the gem, andcommon cuts. Derek Freedman, thewizened enthusiast, had a rather thick  paperback of geological terms and worddescriptions, that I referenced heavily ashe was assessing my collection. It was aBerlitz course in geology;I drove the one-lane road into themountains, crossing several fords, seeing
 
several "tunnels" (gold mines) and to the path Derek described. It was a rough path, with the cliffside heavilyvegetated, alongside a boulder-filledstream. I crawled into several of themines to chip crystals off the sides, putting them into a zip-lock for later assessment. The path crossed the streamseveral times and then became quitesteep. I noticed a lot of slag, and potential panning areas in the stream. Bythis time it was late afternoon, so Ireturned with my collection for further expert evaluation, and resumption of mygeological education. "Nice quartzcrystals, but rather too clear, gold isfound in heavily mineralized quartz,veined in the rock. Let me show you amine where we are following such avein." So with torches (flashlights) Ifollowed the guide into a mine shaft intothe cliff about 200 feet where I saw whathe described.Back to the almost vacant Backpackersto reassess and to study my Gem book.Then I brought all my "gems" up to a balcony table to examine them withmagnifying glass, putting the LEDflashlight behind them, and comparingillustrations of raw gems in the book. Ihave a nice collection of agates and jasper, and non-gold bearing quartz.As I drove southward toward Thames,Saturday morning, I stoppedto fossick, and pan in streams, stoppingat the Coromandal City MineralMuseum to compare their labeled rock and ore collection, with myspeculative finds. Then on to the ThamesMining Museum for an opinionfrom the proprietor (with 40 years of rock collecting, cutting and polishing experience), thus reducing myquestionable stones to aminimum, and confirming my agates, jasper, quartz, and calcinite as of sufficient potential to keep.re: Gold and Diamond prospecting inIndiana - a website, and a book available with those key words.There are 2 named 5-caret diamondsfound in Indiana. Where, and whenunknown without further research. Per my Gem book, most diamond gems arefound downstream of the source,lesser diamonds don't survive thegravelly trip.Drove north to Kaikoura, stopping near Goose Bay to look for fossils and petrified wood. Chatted with aAustralian Backpacker who was quiteknowledgeable (he was also a biteccentric) and he told me where to look Forgot to mention than Napier has a long pebble beach that is beautifullylandscaped and maintained - likeWaikiki. Enroute back from yesterday'sflight, during a brief lull in the rain, Istopped at the beach to look for moreagates, or jasper. Found several, I think.The experts say that you really can't telluntil the rocks collected dry, because thewater gives them an artificial shine.I drove through Napier Town Centre toshop for groceries for the Easter holiday, because many stores close. Saw collegegraduates in their cap and gowns exitingthe commencement ceremony, with theMaori grads wearing fur, feather andstone pendants in various configurationsover their gowns.re: collected stones: I am constantlyculling my collection so I don't exceedthe baggage weight allowance. No problem exporting, but not sure if importto USA is without custom fees. Alsodiscovered that international airlineshave a free sport equipment allowance -

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