I am lucky enough to live on the Queensland coast, and to have travelled extensively throughout the South Pacific. When I needed a beautiful tropical setting for my current project, I looked no further than Fiji. And when I needed something for a character to collect off the beach, I thought immediately of sand dollars. They are both plentiful, and beautiful.
Sand dollars are related to sea urchins and star fish. The beautiful flower-like pattern on the shell is actually their skeleton. When they die they are washed up onto beaches and are bleached by the sun. It seems miraculous to me that nature has produced something so geometrically perfect - although of course nature does this all the time! Sand dollars are lovely, fragile, and remind me of all the time I have spent in the beautiful South Pacific.