Tag Archives: beach stones

Beach Art

I spent the summer on different beaches: the Pacific coast of Northern California, the Maggia river in Switzerland and our home beaches of East Hampton.  Everywhere there is art on display.  Not by famous artists but by common people that pick up stuff from the beach and put it together to make a “work of art”.  It is playful.  It also is testament to the beauty of nature.  Often not much is needed to beautify the scene.  Other times the objects are small (a pebble), or common (litter), or unnoticed (drift wood) and the artist wants to draw attention to their unique beauty.   Here are some specimens I found.

Beach Dragon (Arcata CA)

Beach Dragon (Arcata CA)

Decorated Roots (East Hampton NY)

Decorated Roots (East Hampton NY)

Beach Wood and Iron (Maggia Tal)

Beach Wood and Iron (Maggia Tal)

Display (Maggia Tal)

Display (Maggia Tal)

Elephant Seal, Big Sur (CA)  Art?  Why not?

Elephant Seal, Big Sur (CA) Art? Why not?

Choosing Diamond Bits to Drill Beach Stones with a Dremel

Jewelers, beading and lapidary enthusiasts, and those that work with sea glass have a common problem:  How to make a hole in their material, be it stone, precious or semiprecious gems, or glass.

Drilled beach stone

Drilled Beach Stone with Silver Inlay

I have worked with beach stones for about 12 years.  They come in different hardness measured on a 1-10 Mohs’ scale.  The quarzites are hard (7 on the Mohs scale) and the sedimentary or sand stones are much softer (about 3-5 on the Mohs scale) and therefore easier to drill.  We use a Dremel drill.  Take a look at the comments to this post about different models of Dremel drills.  We use cylinder drill bits that are coated with diamond dust (simply called diamond drill bits).  I buy them in bulk because we use so many.  I am out of bits again and I just scoured the web for suppliers.  This post is about how to choose a supplier!  Drill bits come in very different quality, so you want to choose carefully.

First, lets consider the different types of bits.  There are  1) cylinder bits, 2) twisted bits, 3) shank bits, 4) core bits, 5) crinkled core bits, 6) cintered core bits. If you are not sure what this means you can check out pictures of these bits at Dad’s Rock Shop.  I have tried choices 1-4.  Considering the cost, I still prefer the simple cylinder bits or the twisted bits. They are much cheaper.  Most sources have a variety of sizes to offer.  And you can buy in bulk.  They work for really hard stones and they work with glass.   In terms of how long they last before they are totally dulled up, it’s your technique which is most important: drill slowly, under water to keep everything cool and with a relatively slow rpm (<2000).   Drill even more carefully and without exerting much pressure if you are making a hole in glass.

So, once again I have decided to go with cylinder bits and I want diameters of 1-2 mm.  I usually order large quantities, say 300 – 1000 bits.  I did a google search for  ‘1 mm diamond drill bits’.  Here is what I got.  The prices are per drill bit.

Dad’s Rock Shop  $3.50 (no discount for large quantities)

Lasco Diamond Products $1.75 (1.5mm Diamond drill bits only)

By The Bay Treasures  $2.30  (min 50 bits)

Delta One Lapidary  $1.85 (min 12 bits)

Twisted bits on Ebay $0.35 (20 bits)

Thunderbird Supply Co.  $1.32 (min 30 bits)

Covington Engineering  $1.00 (min 50 bits)

Daniel Lopacki  $0.95 (min 100 bits)

I read every web site in detail and looked at the “about” section.  That tells me whether the seller has first hand experience with drilling stones.   I have previously bought drill bits (and other stuff) from Dad’s Rock Shop.  They are good quality, but their current prices are not competitive.  I have bought poor quality bits too, but not from any of the suppliers mentioned above.  I was somewhat interested in the drill bits from Bay Treasures because these are clearly lapidary enthusiasts and concerned with quality products.  However, I think I am going to go with Daniel Lopacki.  His prices are very competitive if you buy in bulk.  And the website includes great tips for drillers.  They know how to do it and have done it themselves and quality bits are a concern for this seller too.  As you can see, you can get bargains on Ebay.  I have had variable success with these bits depending on the vendor.  But check out the comments below, because Seth from fans4pc managed to change my mind on his diamond bits which are both well priced and good quality.

For drilling holes in glass, check this new post out!

Drilled Beach Stone – Sterling Silver

Drilled Beach Stone – Sterling Silver

Drilled Beach Stones – Deer Skin Leather


If you are on Long Island, NY and you like beachstones here is an event you might want to attend:

Bayshore. NY
is sponsoring a presentation by
David Posnett (Maidstone Jewelry )

“Beach Stones of Long Island”

Feb 23rd 2009 at 7:30 PM

This will be held at the Bayshore/Brightwater Library on Montauk Highway at
1 South Country Road Brightwaters, NY 11706, 631-665-4350

The presentation will cover topics such as the beachstones of Long Island, their mineral nature and origin, and techniques used to tumble, drill and work with stones to produce jewelry. Both projected images and real samples will be used.

flower pendent, white quartz, sterling silver and 18K gold prongs

flower pendent, white quartz, sterling silver and 18K gold prongs



My last post was on valuable gemstones.  This one will be on “gems” that you can find for free on any beach!  Quartzite beachstones are not rare and other types of semiprecious stones can be found on the beaches of the world including agates, jadeite, nephrite, jasper, chert and flint, black onyx and fossilized stones.  Tiny bits of garnet can color the sand red on some beaches, including our beaches here on Long Island, NY.red stoneinstone_2565

So which beaches should you visit and what should you be looking for?  Remember, each beach is very different:

Lake Superior: agates


Oregon beach agates, beaches around Newport including “Agate beach”.


Jasper Beach, Machiasport, Maine: rhyolite (Jasper beach is a misnomer)


Michigan Petoskey Stone (state stone), fossilized stone


Several beaches in New Zealand:


But I am sure you can find a good beach near you wherever you live!  Let me know by email if you find a cool beach as I would like to visit them all!

What to do with the beach stones once you have collected them?  You can just put them in a jar and decorate your house. You can buy a rock tumbler and start polishing them.  This can be fun.  It does use up quite a bit of electric and most tumblers are noisy.  I would be glad to recommend a brand. I have nine tumblers and use them all the time.

Several jewelers have done interesting things with beach stones, but watch out for designs that are too heavy!

There are tutorials on the web on how to drill beach stones with diamond bits in case you want to get started.

Cool  books:

Beach Stones (Hardcover), by Josie Iselin (Author), Margaret Carruthers (Author)

Poems have been written about beach stone collectors. I like this one:



Finally, you have got to read this amazing article about Rob Holman.  He collects sand from all over the world’s beaches and has about 1000 different samples in little vials.  He is a geophysicist and studies beach erosion. This article is a very good read:


Happy travels and let me know what you find.  And please visit our website.


M  A  I  D  S  T  O  N  E    J  E  W  E  L  R  Y

2 Maidstone Park Road

East Hampton, NY 11937

631 379 2200