Monday, 8 December 2008

Sark Stone

Many years ago I lived on the Channel Island of Guernsey with my parents.  imageWhilst there I came across an amazingly beautiful stone which we all called Sark Stone.  I remember one jeweller in town who had a massive piece in the window surrounded by a vast quantity of sark stone jewellery. Sark stone is the colloquial name given to a form of quartz, similar to amethyst that used to be found on the island of Sark.  Due to over zealous collectors the resource is now completely exhausted.

This stone was called Sark stone for pretty obvious reasons, it was to be found on the beaches of Sark. image

Sark is made up of a 'diamond' shaped island which sits on a tear drop island and both are joined with a very narrow isthmus or causeway. image

The island is one of the last bastions of feudalism.  It is most famous for its enchanting and relaxed pace of life.  Sark enables you to step back in time – a visit here is like no other.  Sark is the smallest of the four main islands that make up the Channel Islands which are situated some 80 miles of the coast of southern England.  No cars are allowed only a tractor to haul goods up the steep incline from the harbour.  Bicycles are readily for hire on the island otherwise you have to use your legs to get around!  The current Monseigneur of the Island has to be able to provide to the crown a total of 40 able bodied men to serve the monarchy.  The Channel Islands have belonged to the Crown since the time of William the Conqueror when they formed part of the Duchy of Normandy. In the 13th Century, they were retained by King John when the rest of Normandy was lost to the French. In 1565, Queen Elizabeth I granted Sark to Helier de Carteret as a 'fief haubert' and the island's unique status has remained the same ever since. Today, Sark holds the last remaining feudal constitution in the Western world; neither part of the United Kingdom nor European Union, yet not a sovereign state either. The Seigneur holds the island from the Monarch in perpetuity, and governs in conjunction with Chief Pleas, the island's parliament.

Sark, with no airstrip, no motor cars or tarmac roads and with personal transport limited to foot or bicycle remains the least affected by modern life amongst all the Channel Islands.  Oh, you can use the horse drawn carriages which travel between the harbour and the little town.  So, yes, as I said you are stepping back in time when you visit.

Anyway back to the Sark stone.  I knew that the stone was now scarce if impossible to source on the island.  However, once I did a little research on the Internet I found that this stone could be found in Brazil. So, that was that.

Now, we come to the exciting bit, for me anyway!  You may remember we were on holiday in Spain a little while ago?  sark stone niceWell, on arrival at the property my eyes nearly fell out of their sockets, as they say.  Everywhere, on the steps leading up to the front door, around the swimming pool and even incorporated in as a feature in a wall, I saw Sark stone!sark stone in wall

This was just amazing!  I had not seen this stone since, oh must have been, mid 1970s.

So, you can imagine, I had to find out where on earth the owner of the property had been able to find this stone and, so much of it too!

Turns out that he had been involved in some construction work and whilst organising some transportation of pallets to Brazil he had approached his boss to ask if he could fill up the empty pallets which were being returned to Spain?  It was agreed and soon after a large amount of 'Sark ' stone was uplifted and brought to this guys house in Spain.  He soon realised how excited I was.  I explained how I knew about it and then he very kindly offered to cut some for me to take home as a souvenir of our stay in Mijas.  sark stoneAfter deciding the size and the practicalities of carrying a piece on Easyjet on our flight home I simply asked for a small piece the size of which would fit into the palm of my hand.

Isn't it amazing what can happen when you least expect it and also the generosity of folk.


Sixsisters said...

Lovely story Pat.

maryeb said...

What a great story. How fun for you to make such an unexpected discovery. I'm glad you got a piece to bring home. It looks like a lovely stone.

Liz said...

I remember that shop, Pat. I didn't know it had all gone now though... the shop was definitely there about 10 or 15 years ago... I've got a lovely necklace that DH gave me when we were first married.

Oh, and don't forget the tractors on Sark!! DH says it's amazing how many two-tractor families there are who live there:)

TheresaJ said...

Another informative post. I'd never heard of Sark stone before. It looks very much like amethyst.

lyndy lou said...

I too have some beautiful pieces of sark stone jewelry, a beautiful flexible silver mother of pearl and sark stone bracelet, earings and necklaces. All hold fond memories of holidays on the islands. do you know if you can still buy sark stone jewelry

Anonymous said...

I was in Guernsey in the early 70s and remember lots of Sark Stone jewellery. It was so beautiful, I tried to convince my parents to buy me a piece of the raw stone but the wouldn't, what 12year old wants such a thing? I did and I still love quartz now; my wife has many beautiful pieces but, as yet, not a piece of 'Sark Stone'.

Caroline said...

My husband bought me a choker and bracelet to match and also a ring my mum got a ring and butterfly brooch. Sadly they were stolen last year and I have been trying to get pictues to show the police here in Australia but I cannot find any. Does any one have pictures please.

Rhi said...

I was born in Guernsey 20 years ago and very quickly moved to England as a baby, however I regualarly visit guernsey as it is still a special place. Its funny you should say about sark stone because one year when we were in Guernsey my mother and I were in town and practically cleared out what one of the jewellers had left of the sark stone. I can't remember which one it was.... but the opposite end to the church nearly as you come round to the main road and the crossing.

I have a number of sark stone earrings and a necklace and bracelet and my mother has more herself. My braclet is one of my favourite pieces.

This must have been about 8 years ago?!?

And yes.... since that day we haven't been able to find any more anywhere. Even the internet doesn't seem to know what it is.

Anyway.... Just wanted to share so you know you're not the only one to remember.

Anonymous said...

I have an old jewellers box with the words Sarstone Jewellery by Blampied & Jouault Jersey, marked inside and it contains a pair of cufflinks with a purple stone in a gold (no apparent hallmarks) setting.I am intrigued, they do look like amethysts, so are they Sarkstone? I would love to know more but can't find out much on the internet....

Anonymous said...

I have an old jewellers box with the words Sarstone Jewellery by Blampied & Jouault Jersey, marked inside and it contains a pair of cufflinks with a purple stone in a gold (no apparent hallmarks) setting.I am intrigued, they do look like amethysts, so are they Sarkstone? I would love to know more but can't find out much on the internet....

Anonymous said...

The shop on Guernsey is Machon / Machon's. I think it's still there, but they had no sarkstone left the last time I asked!

Momo said...

My Mum and Dad brought me home some beautiful Sark Stone jewellery back from the Isle of Sark, some 43 years ago, in 1970, when they visited.
I love it, but only wear it on special occasions. I have a wonderful necklace, bracelet and a ring, from which sadly I lost one of the stones. I too have looked all over the internet to find out about somewhere to buy some earrings and get a replacement stone, but this is the first place I've found where anyone has even heard of it!

Anonymous said...

I have a Sark bracelet which I received from my brother approximately 65years ago brought back from Sark. Is there any value in this. I now live in Australia and no one has heard of it.

Frances said...

I too have Sark stone jewellery which my grandmother bought when she was visiting her sister on Guernsey and they went to the island of Sark on day trips. If you look at this link you'll see it's a type of amethyst.
However, beware ignorant jewellers who've never heard of it. One very expensive jeweller told me it was glass, but I know it's Sark stone. Unfotunately there is none left on Sark.

Faith said...

I have a sark stone and mother of pearl bracelet and a sark stone cross bought by my parents for me when I was 12 or 13 years old in 1969/70 from Machon Ltd in Pollet Street, Guernsey. When I went back to Guernsey ith my husband in
2008 or 2009 - I went to find the
shop (no big piece of Sark stone in the window now) and bought a sark stone butterfly brooch for old times sake. Love Guernsey!

Anonymous said...

This is all very interesting about Sark Stone. Years ago my late Father and late step mother lived on Alderney. One day we went into town and to a little shop there, I don't think it was
a jewellers. My step-mother bought me a 'Stark Stone' ring, which has a large stone in the middle with 12 smaller ones around the edge. This would have been in the 1980s I think. She told me then that 'Stark Sone' was all gone. I seem to remember there was some other pieces of 'Stark Stone' jewellery

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