Rock and Mineral Crowd Gains Year-Round Gem Show on Eastside
May 29, 2016 07:06PM
By Marcia Detwiler Scupin
Little Linus Keating got a strong impression of his future when he and his dad panned for gold in the Mojave Desert when he was only 5 years old. “By the time I was 10, I knew I wanted to be a geologist,” Dr. Linus Keating explains. “I love rocks, and I’ve handled more of them than most people have.”
Arizona Lapidary & Gem Rough, Inc., a veritable year-round gem showcase located in a light purple, 40-year-old building just east of Kolb Road on Broadway Boulevard, is what grew out the proprietor’s love of rocks and a strong, ongoing career as a geologist. He gutted the former flower business building and brought it up to code with a complete remodel—a huge undertaking that speaks for itself upon walking through the door. “Moving here [from a smaller location at Pima Street and Swan Road] was a function of necessity,” says Keating, “and it also was my homage to the natural world—the stones and the crystals.”
“For a city with internationally known gem shows, there are not many mineral shops in Tucson,” he says. “So my wife Lesli and I wanted to build on that and use an iconic building to meet the needs people have for stones.” Hobbyists, such as small jewelry-makers, account for about 25 percent of Arizona Lapidary’s sales, but interior design is a growing emphasis. As for price points, Keating places his store in the moderate category, adding that he aims for lower costs and higher distribution of goods. “The stone you receive for the money you pay is very good value.”
“We want to express the feeling that you are welcome here and we encourage interaction—à la Bookman’s. We encourage local artists, and they love that they can share with us their experiences with the stones, and discuss their methods and ideas here. People say they love the place,” he smiles. With its large, overstuffed chairs, track lighting and an airy, open feeling, it’s not hard to visualize a lively show-and-tell session among lapidary guys.
From a $5 palm stone to a $20,000 piece of art, there truly is something for everyone—and every resort or hotel—at this beautifully appointed showcase. On proud display are handpicked, polished minerals from Morenci and many other mines; handmade custom jewelry; slab art; gorgeous geodes and other specimens; crystal creations; and top-of-the-line gemscapes by local artist John “Zee” Haag.
These gemscapes are large-scale mosaic artworks built from a multitude of gorgeous colored stones mounted on polished steel representing flowers, animals and various scenes from the natural world. Some are backlit to enhance the gems’ rainbow of colors. The public is encouraged not to be intimidated by the price tags, but to visit Arizona Lapidary & Gem Rough as they would a gallery. As Keating says, “There’s an artisanal story here.”
Back in the “rough room”, those so inclined can look through bins containing larger, uncut and unpolished rocks. Here, one will find more handpicks: native copper from Morenci, ocean jasper from Madagascar; Sonora sunrise from Mexico; tiger eye from South Africa; ruby in zoisite from Tanzania; and more. There’s a table on which to examine one’s find, a squirt bottle to reveal its hidden beauties and a lot of fun. It’s rock-hound heaven in the back room.
Arizona Lapidary & Gem Rough enjoys helping customers identify their specimens. The business even does house calls, for those with those heavily loaded backyards or garages.
Arizona Lapidary & Gem Rough celebrates its grand opening from June 6 to 11, with six themed days, covering Geology & Lapidary arts on Monday, Prospecting on Tuesday, Metaphysical Arts on Wednesday, Jewelry Making & Gemstone Art on Thursday, Mineral Collecting on Friday and Children’s Day on Saturday. Prizes will be awarded to the first 20 customers each day who make purchases, says the store’s general manager, Kadee Lyn Kotter.
Among her management and marketing duties, Kotter is also an ordained priestess, and owner of Holistic Ministries, LLC, which provides licensed and insured bodywork through the use of crystal energy. She is an expert in her field, and in charge of the metaphysical side of the business. “When people come in with a request for a certain stone they want to use for metaphysical purposes, I respond with joy and happiness,” Kotter says. “Stones have an energetic side that affect people spiritually, and attributes that help to create an atmosphere for healing.”
Kotter’s private office area on the premises has a massage table for bodywork and a beautiful display of the polished stones she uses. “I put stones on my clients,” she says. “I love to share stones.” Where Keating says he represents the “pure, scientific side” of the business, Kotter, he notes, “works on the other side, so we are a wonderful combination.”
On June 8, Metaphysical Day of the Grand Opening, Kotter will be doing complementary chakra modality assessments and crystal chakra blessings. She explains that crystals can help people with many different kinds of difficulties. For example, in gaining self-confidence or dealing with grief issues or post-traumatic stress disorder. She offers discounts on her services to veterans and first responders, because of the stones’ effectiveness in these areas.
Science and metaphysics are perfectly matched under an iconic, interesting retail umbrella at Arizona Lapidary & Gem Rough. Tucson finally has a comprehensive, aesthetically pleasing mineral store that’s poised and ready to provide breathtaking gem art, custom jewelry and a wide range of lapidary services to every kind of rock and stone lover who walks through its doors.
Arizona Lapidary & Gem Rough, Inc. is located at 7320 E. Broadway Blvd., in Tucson. For more information, call 520-399-6641 or 888-627-4481, email [email protected] or visit ArizonaLapidary.com. See ad, page 7.
Marcia Detwiler Scupin is a freelance writer in Tucson who enjoys writing about spiritual awareness, mind-body health approaches and ancient ways made new again. Connect at [email protected].