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”.


Isaac "Drew" Ervin

Lapidary Manager


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.

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.

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Bailey "Bea" Watt

Lapidary Clerk

Creek Education Tour Guide




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,walking/running,yoga,wire wrapping,clay forming,taking care of my 3 cats,swimming,road trips,thrift shopping,DIY,history,true crime podcast,documentaries,just hanging out on a porch on a beautiful day,traveling,photography,journalism,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. In 2012-2013 I started dabling in wire wrapping hand collected gemstones from various spots in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In late 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 to 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.

Responsibilities: I am responsible for helping work the counter by helping customers customize their jewelry,taking orders as well as identifying gemstones,running errands,making buckets into bags-to-ship,making sure the mail is up to date,and running the lapidary website as well as taking photographs of the gems to be sold. I am also apprenticing to be a gemologist/gem cutter.

Favorite Gemstones & Minerals: "This is a extremely difficult question"Purple Aragonite,Agate & Jasper. I love Plume Agate,as well as Ocean and Kambaba Jasper. I have a soft spot for strange fossils & mica schist Also anything coated in iron. I love anything has any strange irons or inclusions,like rainbow hematite turgite or galena. I also love labradorite (especially spectrolite),rainbow moonstone & copper (or minerals with copper). Also i am quite fond of imperal topaz and Oregon sunstones.

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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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