Rocking out at the Bribie Gem Club

Published 4:00pm 31 August 2023

Rocking out at the Bribie Gem Club
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

If you have ever wanted to learn how to turn rocks, gemstones, minerals and fossils into pieces of art or jewellery, drop in and meet the members of the Bribie Island Gem Club.

Boasting more than 130 members, the Gem Club is made up of people of all ages and from different walks of life who share the same interest in lapidary.

Each week you will find members happily working in the sheds, with some people cutting, grinding, tumbling, polishing and faceting their own gems in one shed, whereas others will be in the silversmithing shed making pieces such as bracelets, rings and necklaces.

One person who loves turning rocks into treasures is Barry Anderson (pictured above), who has been a member of the club for six years.

“What we do by coming here is to reinvent Mother Nature,” Barry says.

“We turn what are essentially boring old rocks into something really beautiful.

“Knowing you’re the first person in millions of years to see inside that stone is pretty humbling.”

Barry, who lost his right arm following a serious motorcycle accident when he was 17, says the club is “very inclusive”.

“We have a few people here with disabilities – we don’t let that stop us,” Barry says.

“The comradery in this group is what makes it a great club to be a part of. We all work on our projects and then sit down and talk about our problems, or what is going on in our lives.

“It’s really good for our mental health and we have all made new friends.”

Rocking out at the Bribie Gem Club

A great place to learn new skills 

Inside the silversmithing shed, you will find Marci Choyce (pictured above) making an array of jewellery pieces.

“I make all my own designs, such as necklaces and rings,” Marci says.

“My husband, who is also a member, cuts the gems for me and then I place them in my jewellery.

“We live in Narangba but travel up to Bribie Island because we love everything about this club.”

With a number of workshops available for members, there is always something to learn.

“This is a fantastic club in the sense that we have everything here, including all the tools and the machines for you to learn on,” Marci says.

“We have a teacher who works with the new members. First, you will learn silver soldering (joining two pieces of metal together using heat) and when you feel comfortable with that you will work onto other things.

“We also have different workshops and classes so members can learn new skills in other areas as well.

“The teachers we have here are full of encouragement and make you want to learn and do better each time.”

Rocking out at the Bribie Gem Club

Pursuing his passion

Ever since he was a young boy, Maz Naci (pictured above, left) has always had an interest in fossils and rocks.

“When I was growing up, I would spend a lot of my time walking through streams and mining areas where I could find all kinds of rocks and fossils,” Maz says.

“They really fascinated me, so I started collecting as many as I could find. It was something I loved doing.

“But as I grew up and started my education and working, it sadly went to the wayside.”

These days, Maz loves to spend as much time as he can with his friends at the Bribie Island Gem Club, which he joined after moving to the island following his retirement.

At first, he joined as a social member, but in a few short years he became President – a role he loves.

“When you join the club it’s not just about making unique pieces of jewellery - which is quite an ancient craft dating back thousands of years - but it’s also about the social aspect and sharing your knowledge and experience with other people,” Maz says.

“I try and promote a positive culture as much as possible, so people enjoy coming every week.”

Rocking out at the Bribie Gem Club

Club to host annual Gem Fest

Gem and jewellery enthusiasts who are looking to build their collection or purchase a range of one-of-a-kind jewellery are being encouraged to attend the club’s annual Gem Fest, which will be held over two big days on September 9 and 10.

“The Gem Fest is one of our biggest events of the year, where we will have different stallholders from different regions come along and sell their goods,” Maz says.

“Every stallholder will have their own unique sets of jewellery they sell, as well as rough rocks and minerals that members can buy to cut up or polish themselves.

“There will also be a faceting demonstration and activies for kids.

“There is so much to see and do at the Gem Fest, so it’s not uncommon for us to welcome several thousand people to the event.”

Keep up to date with the Gem Fest by following the Bribie Island Gem Club on Facebook.

Head along

If you are interested in joining the Bribie Island Gem Club, they are open every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday from 8am-1pm, as well as Monday evenings from 6-9pm.

The club is also open on the last Sunday of each month from 8am-12pm where people from the community can visit the gift shop and purchase some of the beautiful hand-crafted jewellery that is for sale.

The Bribie Island Gem Club is located at 191 Sunderland Dr, Banksia Beach, in the grounds of the Community Arts Centre complex.

For more information, visit their website: https://www.bribiegemclub.com.au/

To see more photos from the Bribie Island Gem Club, click through the gallery below. 

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