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A Newly Polished Stone
Mark shows off a newly polished stone.
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Mark and Jan Morgan
Mark and Jan Morgan have a real passion for making jewelry from rocks they've found on hunts over the years.
Mark and Jan Morgan of Salem have long enjoyed collecting rocks.
But it wasn’t until Jan discovered a 42 ½-caret ruby on a rock hunt in North Carolina that their passion for the hobby grew.
Wanting a pendant and earrings made from the stone, Jan brought it back to Virginia and found someone in Lynchburg to make the jewelry. Mark soon decided that carving and polishing stones would be a great project to add to their pastime. He began learning about and practicing the craft before retirement. Now, it’s his full-time hobby.
Using tools made with diamond blades – because diamonds are harder than rocks – Mark cuts the stones into the shape he wants. Then he polishes the stones with a special tool featuring diamond chips. After that, Jan takes over and turns the stones into pendants or earrings. Mark says it typically takes two to three hours to complete one stone.
“We love doing it,” Jan says. “It takes time and patience, but it’s great therapy and keeps us busy.”
And busy they are. The two – with the moniker Morgan’s Earth Treasures – travel to festivals, craft shows, local farmers markets and other events to sell their jewelry. They enjoy the opportunity to hit the road and meet people interested in what they’ve accomplished.
Jan says they try to keep their jewelry simple to showcase the beauty of the stones. They’ve learned a plethora of information about rocks, such as the names and origins. Many of their stones are unakite, which is native to Virginia and can be found on Bent Mountain, Jan says. They also travel to New Mexico to visit Mark’s family and collect gemstones such as opal.
“This is a unique craft, and we wondered if the interest from the public would fade,” Jan says. “But we’re in our fourth year and there continues to be a lot of interest.”
The Morgans say they plan their life around shows they attend; they’re planning to do 25 this year. Locally, they often set up at the Catawba Farmers Market. At Festival in the Park’s arts and crafts show, they once placed third in the 3-D art category. Their passion for the craft has also inspired their granddaughter to pursue jewelry making.
“With retirement, people sometimes become isolated,” Jan says. “We’re able to get out and talk to people this way.”