Kay Myers doesn’t mind when it’s windy and stormy on the Oregon coast.
In fact, she rather likes it. When the winds come out of the southwest, for either a storm or extended periods of time, Myers finds that her lapidary business starts booming with folks needing rock polishers and grit.
As the manager of FACETS Gem & Mineral Gallery, anytime sand is blown away and the gravel beds exposed, treasures await on the beaches.
“In 1998 and 2000 there were a lot of people who found record-setting agates,” Myers said. “It was an extraordinary couple of years for storms exposing the gravel beds.”
While you may want to visit FACETS and learn about beachcombing, the real attraction is the beaches around Newport. During the winter months, you can see many people combing the gravel strewn beaches and the areas near the cliffs, staring at the ground. Sometimes they will have a walking stick called a shell and gem scoop that are used by beachcombers and rock hounds alike. They are used on the coast to snatch a stone away from a wave or pull a treasure out of a creek without getting wet. In the desert they are used to expose treasures without reaching into a bush or hole and finding a snake.
Looking for agates, requires patience and a good bit of luck.
Agate, jasper and opal (not found at the beach) – three gems that are found in Oregon, are all forms of silica, or silicon dioxide. The truly amazing finds, however, are the agatized clam bellies with a movable water bubble within the agate. Myers will show customers, using a high power field light up against an agatized clam, the water still trapped inside.
Myers also recommends this blog http://oregonagates.blogspot.com/ for new comers to rock hounding and beach combing on the central Oregon coast at Newport. It helps people share photos of Oregon coastal agates and 15 - 20 million year old marine fossils found on Oregon's scenic beaches.
“This is the very motivation that gets many people bundled up, staring at the ground during the winter months in Newport and other areas on the Oregon Coast,” she said. “Occasionally you will find agates during the summer months but not as easily due to all of the sand deposited on the beaches.”
Learning how to find these gems – and minerals – is as easy visiting the store.
“We have the pocket guide Agates of the Oregon Coast that has maps of Oregon's beaches from Washington to California of where to look,” Myers said. “Plus it is amazingly accurate with pictures, so you can hold up what you find and compare it to the pictures. They are a huge help.”
Five years ago the shop, which is noted for its "large selection of shells, gemstones, mineral specimens, jewelry, and various gift items which are tastefully displayed" moved from it’s long-time location on Highway 101 to where it currently sits off the highway in Newport.
“Since 1999 a lot of our business has been from the Internet,” Myers said. “We sell everything from lapidary equipment and supplies to books online by having a very large web site. We still get all of the walk in folks who need what we carry shopping with us daily.”
In fact, during my visit a couple from Idaho walked into the shop – they had bought equipment off Facet’s site at www.4facets.com and wanted to visit them personally.
FACETS is a “Collector's Paradise” of fine jewelry, exotic gems, minerals, fossils, shells and coral from different regions of the world such as the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia is available. Also available: rock polishing equipment, supplies & books, for the novice or professional craftsman.
The biggest piece of advice Myers gives to people who visit her shop “as a rule you won't find agates on Agate Beach, but we do have beaches here in Newport that provide beachcombers with treasure.”
Places like Moolack beach for fossils (bring your camera for great fossils that can't be removed, yet will make wonderful art for your home or office), creek beds, tide pools during minus tides and, yes, Facets is the best place to find agates or polished agates you are looking for.
“The trick is finding the right beach, with the gravel showing” Myers said. “And always keeping an eye on the ocean – sneaker waves are real, so don’t turn your back on the ocean.”
About the Facet’s Gem & Mineral: For 20 plus years now - FACETS has catered to amateur and experienced rock hounds, gem cutters, collectors, jewelry craftsmen and interior decorators. Although having a showroom definitely leaves less time to go "adventuring" like they used to, the FACETS duo still take the time each year to travel to continue their studies and hand select everything in the showroom. Over the past years, since participating in well over 220 gem/jewelry and craft shows the FACETS team has retired from the shows to keep up with the showroom traffic and their own ever growing warehouses to accommodate your needs!
What to bring: If you want to adventure on the coast, make sure you dress appropriately by dressing in layers, taking along a warm all weather jacket, preferably one with a hood to protect your head and ears from the cold winds or rain which we often experience here on the coast and remember to wear old shoes with non-slip soles or rubber boots for additional comfort. Also keep an eye on the water at all times. In addition, make sure you bring the proper tools for rock hounding – the staff there will help you get set up.
Tip: Facet’s carries more than 80 different books, magazines and the ever popular pocket guides of Agates of the Oregon Coast on the local area rock hounding scene. Also, The pocket guide has it's own blog of information on what treasures people have found in the Newport area. This amazing blog http://oregonagates.blogspot.com/ is rock hounding 101's beach combing trophies for Oregon's central coast at Newport. Sharing photos of Oregon coastal agates and 15 - 20 million year old marine fossils found on Oregon's scenic beaches!
Season: The store is open year round so make your visit there first for anything you need for your trip to the beach.
Getting there: Plug 1240 NW Grove St. , Newport , into the GPS and it is easy to find (just one street west of McDonald's Golden Arches).
For those of you who don’t have a GPS: To get to Facet’s from Lincoln City, head to Newport by heading south on US-101 - go 25.0 miles, as you see the McDonald's Golden Arches (on the left), turn right at the next street which is NW 12th St. The Power Ford dealership is on the corner and at the next intersection is NW Grove St, turn right we are the third driveway on your right, at 1240 NW Grove St.
By Patrick Johnson