Cape May diamonds, as they’ve come to be known, have been tumbling toward Cape May from the headwaters of the Delaware River for thousands of years.
They’re not real diamonds, but rather quartz stones that were swept out of pockets of the mineral upstream and carried downriver. Many wash ashore at Sunset Beach in Cape May Point, where they are treasured finds for scores of beachcombers.
The cape’s earliest beach crowd was the Native American Kechemeche tribe, who used the pebbles to trade with settlers and other tribes. They believed the stones bestowed good luck on their owners. Modern fortune-seekers have the best shot of finding the gems right after a storm.
Cape May diamonds shine when they’re wet, so they’re easiest to spot if you hunt for them down by the water. The pebbles are generally small (a quarter-inch or so in size), clear or opaque, and rounded from their rocky ride down the river.
A plastic sifter is helpful to have when you search. You can pick up lots of stones with it, shake out all the sand, then zero in on any keepers.
First-time diamond hunters can start their quest at the Sunset Beach Gift Shop, where stone-savvy staff can provide tips. The store also sells jewelry and novelty items made from these gifts from the sea.
Looking for more fun at the Shore this summer? Check out New Jersey Monthly’s list of the best things to do, which, of course, includes hunting for Cape May diamonds.Click here to leave a comment