For nearly a decade the Clearwater Raft River Rockhounds have been surveying the North Thompson Valley, digging around and, essentially, finding hidden treasure.
The club was formed in 2010 by a small group of members with a goal to encourage responsible collecting of minerals, fossils, gemstones and related geological material and is now moving toward creating art and jewelry with their finds for sale at different markets.
“It was a small club and we’ve gained knowledge, people, experiences and attained equipment for lapidary work as well as a rock shop where we can utilize tools and machines to make lapidary material with,” said Kurtis Elliot, who joined the Rockhounds two years ago and has taken over as president.
“We can create jewelry or artwork or anything we want to make our treasures into.”
Elliot has also taken on the roles of shop foreman, where his duties include setting up the shop and getting the equipment running, and also as wagon master, a role which has him directing and setting up schedules for group field trips.
For those who don’t know, the word “lapidary” relates to stones and gems and the work involved in engraving, cutting or polishing them, and can be used to describe a person who takes part in these activities.
As for the lapidaries in the Raft River Rockhounds, the group has about nine to 12 members who have general meetings once a month to discuss and schedule classes, field trips, workshops and any other future events they’d like to set up.
“In the up coming season, spring and summer, we’re going to be doing quite a few more field trips and my idea would be to get the group to utilize the shop and create our own jewelry that we could then take to the flea markets,” said Elliot, adding the group’s shop had been out of operation for a few years and he’s taken it upon himself to get it running again.
“We’re just starting in that direction and with enough people involved, sharing and gaining knowledge from each other, I don’t see a problem with it—it’s happening all over B.C.”
Elliot said there are probably 25 areas in the North Thompson Valley alone where a person could look for gems and minerals like agates, garnets, fluorite and quartz that could be turned into artwork or jewelry, or just added to a personal collection.
He added he was drawn to the pursuit simply from the importance of spending time outdoors with his children and after casually collecting different rocks and minerals on their outings, it grew on him until he became dedicated to gaining more knowledge on the local geological area as well as the precious gemstones and minerals offered around the valleys.
After becoming more seasoned in the lapidary realm he learned of the Rockhounds, which gave him an outlet to learn and also spread his knowledge with people who shared the interest.
“I believe the other members also like the group for gathering and sharing with like minded people who enjoy the outdoors and rocks,” Elliot said.
“Being a small community it’s nice to have a group to go to that you can head out, enjoy nature and find new treasures.”
Another perk of joining the Rockhounds is the group falls under the umbrella of the B.C. Lapidary Society, and as a member, one can travel to any other community with a member group and take part in meetings and functions.
Those interested in becoming a Rockhound can contact Elliot at 778-208-5287 or visit the Facebook page Raft River Rockhounds.