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Lapidary Staff

Mike Watkins

Lapidary Director

Gemologist/Geologist (GIA)


Responsibilities: I am responsible for the day to day management of the lapidary, mineral and gemstone procurement, mining and water permit compliance, roadway maintenance, and purchase and sale of all minerals and gemstones on site. It’s a very demanding job and requires my full attention. I am also responsible for all training in the lapidary, certifications, and handing down years of knowledge of trial and error to the next generation of Lapidarists.

Favorite Minerals and Gemstones: Emeralds  faceted with the "emerald facet" and dark blue aquamarine with the "Scissor facet". “Never seen a rock I didn’t like. Each mineral has its own personality”.


Hobbies: Fishing and actually catching fish, playing guitar, saxophone, mandolin, piano, and many other instruments. I really enjoy writing my own music, riding my Harley motorcycle fast (like I stole it), collecting arrow heads and artifacts, digging for rocks and umpiring baseball, which I have done for 35 years.  At the end of the day I love to read my bible.

History: I found my first quartz crystal when I was seven years old. This began my wonder and amazement for geology. As I grew up I pursued sports and earned a scholarship playing football. This allowed me to pursue a degree in geology and I was able to realize my full passion for minerals and precious gemstones. In 1979 I won the international cut of the year for my development of the scissor cut and it remains our most popular facet to date. I have had the pleasure of traveling all over the world. Mexico, brazil, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Germany, Spain, Africa (Ivory Coast), Alaska, and Hawaii have all been called my playground for a short time. The only continental state I have not collected minerals and rocks in is Rhode Island. I have had the privilege of learning gold and silver smith skills, wax casting, custom jewelry design, cabbing, faceting, basically anything you need done in a lapidary. I am highly skilled at all levels of lapidary work and truly enjoy teaching and passing on my years of knowledge to the next generation of Lapidarists.

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Isaac "Drew" Ervin

Lapidary Manager


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Responsibilities: I evaluate all open orders currently under way in the lapidary and facilitate their completion. My biggest strength in the lapidary is Mineral Identification (specifically hard to identify minerals). I handle mineral specimen sales, faceting, evaluating minerals specimens for a gemstone quality facet or cabochon. I then advise our clients as to which method will achieve their desired look.

Favorite Minerals and Gemstones: Hiddenite Smokey Quartz facet and pretty much any Pseudomorph or Carbonate. Ocean kyanite,pyromorphite and collecting artifacts are also true loves. I also truly appreciate Paleoanthropology and any mineral or fossil that can show a natural progression of time through the impact of its environment.

Hobbies: : Live music events, exploring nature, tai chi and chinese medicine, card games,cats,mineral hunting,faceting/cabochoning,rock climbing/boulder,guitar,collecting VHS,traveling,reading,gold dredging,disc golf,going to gemshows,hiking and camping,kayaking/canoing.

History: My name is Isaac Drew Ervin. I grew up 15 minutes from the town of Hiddenite on a cattle farm and visited this mine on numerous occasions. I still have my precious finds that continue to inspire me to this day. I can still remember the exact location I found them. Based on those experiences and my passion for travel and discovery I set out on a journey of how our Earth was formed. I attended UNC Wilmington and received my Bachelors of Science in Geology Class of 2014. I had the privilege of serving as officer in the University’s Geology Club which funded its own field trips for geological research and mining exploration. While living in Wilmington, NC I took the opportunity to study coastal environments, oceanography, invertebrate paleontology, and also made my way inland to study hard rock geology in the Raleigh area, West Virginia, and New Mexico. After having such a rich college experience, I was thrilled to be back at the Mine where I have the opportunity to influence the future generations and pursue my passion for Geology and quest for knowledge.


Bailey "Bea" Watt


Creek Education Tour Guide

Responsibilities: In the lapiddary//As a cabber,I have my hands working on more than three orders at a time.  Watching the gemstones take shape and the last polish is always rewarding. When I am not cabbing gemstones for customers,I spend time crafting and putting out a newsletter every month. It is  all about geology,ranging from gemstones to asteroids and everything in between. I also help keep the shop stock filled,and make the online boxes to go. With some help from other awesome co workers we make

sure they are shipped out on time.

Favorite Gemstones & Minerals: "This is a extremely difficult question"

-Labradorite var Spectrolite

-Imperial Topaz

-Chalchedony (Grape Agate being one of my favorites)

-Opal,but more specifically when it has occured in another natural element,such as opalizedwood or clams and even pinecones!

-Sunstone,preferably the kind with copper schiller.

-Copper anything. Especially copper crystals & Chrysocolla.

-Orpiment (arsenic sulfide)

-Anything with dendritic formations/inclusions (dendritic opal,dendritic turquoise,agate ect). 

-Rainbow hemitite/hemitite in general

-Iron coated amethyst,especially Thunder Bay.

-Aragonite - even the purple variety.

-bissolite or chlorite included quartz

-any type of fossilization

-Moldevite and Meteorites and Tektites oh my!




Hobbies: Painting (acrylic/watercolor/mixed media),hair coloring,hula hooping,hiking/camping/backpacking,bouldering,studying plants and bugs - especially spiders,planting herbs and veggies,live music gigs,yoga,beading,clay forming,taking care of my 4 cats,swimming,road trips,thrift shopping,DIY,history & true crimepodcast,documentaries,hanging out on a porch on a beautiful day,traveling,

photography,journalism,weather & reading,

History: I grew up in Statesville,NC until I was 18,when I left home to live in the southwestern region of the NC Blue Ridge Mountains. Since I was a young child,I have always been obsessed with nature,building forts in the forest and of course geology. I grew up always hiking,camping and creek hopping while also being a competitive swimmer. Emerald Hollow Mine was a large part of my childhood and I visited here quite often as a kid and still have some of the gems I collected here. Around  2012-2013 I started dabling in wire wrapping hand collected gemstones from various spots in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the summer of 2013,I decided to go back to college to become a wilderness therapy field guide/trail guide. In order to graduate,you had to complete two outdoor co-op jobs. After my second semester of my first year,I decided to move back home for a little while with every intention of moving back to finish the program. I ended up at Emerald Hollow Mine later in the summer of 2014,and have worked here ever since. I plan on continuing my outdoor education training in the future,but preferably out west. As 2019 started,so did my training in being a lapidarist. Currently,I work as cabber in the lapidary studio onsite and in my free time,I add to my painting portfolio and rockhound.

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All mineral photos have a link provided. We do not claim any of these minerals or gems,as well as the photos.

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