Friday, January 15, 2016

Natural resources - Free Treasure

Hunting for natural treasures is one of my favourite pastimes. Sadly one that I don’t get to do as much as I did. I could often be found up the side of a hill filling my pockets with my own bodyweight in rocks, on a beach hunting for shells and glass, or even scanning gravel drives for interesting bits and bobs. They are a fantastic (and free) resource for using in your jewellery.

Pebbles on the beach
“Beachcombing is an activity that consists of an individual "combing" (or searching) the beach and the intertidal zone, looking for things of value, interest or utility. A beachcomber is a person who participates in the activity of beachcombing.”
Beach combing

Most people in the UK are lucky enough to be no more than a couple of hours from a beach and winter is the perfect time to wrap up and head out to look for some treasure. After storms you can find all sorts of wonderful things fallen from the rocks, washed up by the tide, or unearthed by the waves.

Hunting after a storm

It’s very important to consider safety before you head out, particularly in bad weather. Always make sure someone knows where you will be and when to expect you home, and stay away from cliff faces and edges. Find out the tide times and make sure know when to expect the tide to return. A lot of UK beaches have sand banks where you can become stranded in an instant after the tide comes in behind you so make sure to keep an eye on things as you’re collecting.

Fossil on the beach

Another thing to consider is how much heavier you will be when your pockets/rucksack are full. I know this from experience after rolling down a hill in Derbyshire when I lost my balance coming down after a good day collecting.
Jack & Jill 

As well as beaches - mountains, lakes, and even your back garden can be great places to find natural materials to work with. Fossils can be found inland and rivers and streams can turn up beautiful smooth pebbles and semi precious stones.

Amateur geology (known as rockhounding in the United States) is the recreational study and hobby of collecting rocks and mineral specimens from their natural environment.

I can dream of finding diamonds

If you know where to look and you have keen eyes you can find all sorts of wonderful things.

Some of my collection includes Blue John from Derbyshire,

Blue John

Rock with garnets from the West coast of Scotland.


Pebbles from the Lake District polished in my rock tumbler.

Mixed pebbles

And my prize fluorite crystals from Derbyshire.

Square Fluorite Crystal

Hand polished fluorite crystal

And it’s not just rocks, a stroll along the beach in Falmouth turned up these treasures...

Sea glass

And other mixed shells, coral, and tiny mussel pearls from Scotland.

Coral & Shells

Mussel shell with pearls

Sparkly mica rocks collected from the banks of Loch Morar.

Rock with Mica

And finally, another prized possession, I didn't find this one myself, but it was given to me by a German Friend collected in Dorset. It's iron pyrite and I'd love to break it open but daren't in case it's really boring inside.

Pyrite nodule

I’ve not got as far as using anything I’ve collected in one of my designs, I think I just like collecting things! But some very talented people have….

And our very own Niky created this stunning piece with a beach pebble.

Nike Sayers Artisan Jewellery

I’ve always loved the idea of creating from start to finish, and collecting your own components from the land around you is a fantastic way to do this.

So wherever you are, get out and get exploring! The Natural Trust website should start you off with some great places to visit

And if you’re lucky enough to live in the US there are some incredible places to visit with really amazing precious stones.

I think I need to book us a family holiday to go and hunt for some black opals!!!


  1. Very impressive collection you have there...

  2. it is one of my favorite things to do..

  3. What a lovely post and photos - interesting from beginning to end. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Lovely read and great to see your collection of finds :)

  5. Ah, you have so much more interesting beach finds than I have... Great finds Am practically drooling over it. :)

    I live on a peninsula just too far north to get any amber, no fossils that I've ever seen, too little littering to find lots of beach glass (though I always find at least a couple of pieces – and lots of plastic...), not good at timing trips to the beach (go when I'm near it, not e.g. after a storm when you find the best stuff). But I do find various stones, driftwood, the odd piece of sea pottery, shells and, best of all, lots of smooth flint pebbles. And flint has been a favourite of mine since childhood when I would always pick flintstones in my grandpa's fields (our own farm is too high up on a ridge, no flint here). As a seasonal farmworker, I also enjoy "field combing" as you can find lots of flint and smooth stones in the tilled fields near the coast. And if you're really lucky, you might stumble upon artifacts like a stone age arrow or axe.

    The whole coastline around the peninsula I live on is a nature reserve so technically I might not be allowed to pick up stones (exact regulations vary from reserve to reserve; actually the law in Sweden states you can't pick any stones from any place without the landowner's consent, but you won't be prosecuted for picking just a few stones). So depending on where you live, it might be wise to check laws surrounding stone picking and beachcombing beforehand.


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