Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cape May Diamonds

If you are familiar with the Cape May NJ area you've probably heard about Cape May diamonds.
But many people have no idea what they are, and have never heard about them. I mentioned them in a post last week about lanterns that I make. My Cape May Lantern
They really only show up on a certain beach in Cape May, Sunset Beach. Although Cape May is on the Atlantic Ocean where the sun rises, not sets...this beach is special because yes the sun does set here, over the water. And it is celebrated by many people who come to view, just like in Key West. This is Sunset Beach Cape May, NJ

It is where the Delaware river empties into the Atlantic ocean. The river is vast here and you can not see land on the other side. So you get to see the sun go down. The river is the reason for the diamonds.

I googled the term Cape May Diamonds and came up with some pretty neat stuff about them.

left side=in the rough //right side= polished
Cape May's "diamonds."
Cape May's "diamonds."
Photo by Colin Archer & Marc Steiner/Agency New Jersey

And here is a close up of what you can expect to find on the beach.  After a bit of tumbling they become shiny like this.
My picture of the pebbles raw and washed up on the beach is below. so you have to do some picking for the white and the clear, and the peach ones.
How pretty the clear ones are tumbled

Below is a pic I took last year at Sunset Beach. 
 (Better pics will be forthcoming now that I have a better camera)

The bird is sitting on a rock jetty and just beyond is the sunken concrete  ship  Atlantis. 
It is said that these two huge objects, are what forces the pebbles to wash ashore here rather than be thrust out to sea. 
So the forces of nature and the dalliance of man on these shores have resulted in a unusual and enjoyable trinket.

Below is a pic of jewelry made from the Diamonds

Here is the some of the info that came up on my google search.

Here is what New Jersey Monthly has to say..
The diamonds begin their lives truly “in-the-rough” in  the upper reaches of the Delaware River, in the areas around the Delaware Water Gap. Pieces of quartz crystal are broken off from veins and pockets by the swift-running waters of mountain streams that feed the river. Thus begins a journey of more than 200 miles that takes thousands of years to complete. Along the way, the sharp edges of the stones are smoothed as they are propelled along the river bottom. Eventually the stones come to rest on the shores of the Delaware Bay in South Jersey.

Thousands of vacationers in the Cape May area each year search for these sparkling crystals that, when cut and faceted, have the appearance of real diamonds. The largest concentration of booty is located on the sands of Sunset Beach in Cape May Point. Here, the wreck of the ship Atlantus and a rock jetty trap the stones, which are forced ashore in large quantities just prior to being swept by the tides into the Atlantic Ocean.

Some days the stones are more plentiful than others. “The best time to hunt is on cold, windy days when the water is churned up and just after storms,” says Kathy Hume, of family-owned Sunset Beach Gift Shops. Would-be prospectors should come equipped with a beach bucket, sand shovel, and a beach sieve to shake off sand. Typical specimens are about the size of a pea and come in a variety of shapes and colors. “Much of the time, larger stones the size of grapes are just underneath a layer of smaller ones,” advises Hume. Prospectors may also find sharks’ teeth, Indian arrowheads (some of museum quality), agates, and black quartz.

The gift shops at Sunset Beach sell Cape May diamond jewelry, including pendants, bracelets, necklaces, rings, and stud earrings. The pieces are made from gems that have been smoothed and polished in rock tumblers or cut and faceted. Prices start at 99 cents for a polished stone with a description card, and run up to $265 for a 14-karat gold ring with a 6-millimeter stone (just under one karat).
Cape May diamonds may have more than just monetary or sentimental value. In an earlier time, the local Kechemeche Indians, a part of the Lenni-Lenape tribe, believed the gems had supernatural powers to influence the well-being and good fortune of their possessor. The bonds of friendship and lasting goodwill were often sealed with gifts or exchanges of the sacred gems.

I hope you enjoyed my post about one of the unique qualities found along the Jersey shore.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this post!..I've been blessed to go to Cape May NJ,I hope to return someday!


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