Saturday, Jan 12th - I journeyed from Tucson to Quartzsite, Arizona on Friday, Jan 11th, with fellow Old Pueblo Lapidary Club member Rob Kulakofsky. We stopped off at the Arizona Rockfest and Earth Science Fair in Phoenix enroute, where I acquired a slab of some upper crust dinosaur bone for a future bola project. Rob also purchased some dinosaur bone and other cabbing materials for his own use and for inventory for sale from his Arizona Mineral Company web site while we were at the Phoenix show. We did not arrive in Quartzsite until pretty late in the afternoon and didn't have time to look around much before the light began fading and it was time for dinner, after which we retired to the desert to sleep out on the ground for the night.
After breakfast at the Ponderosa Grill Saturday morning we explored several of the isles at the Main Event swap meet area while enroute to Hardies on Main Street in Quartzsite to meet in person and say hi to Ken Hardies, a fellow AFMS Faceters List member and proprietor of Hardies Bead and Jewelry. The diversity of merchandise, services and just plain junk for sale at Quartzsite is utterly amazing - antiques, sunglasses, jewelry, videos, tools, animal furs, walking sticks, cacti, leather goods, kites, beauty salon, electric scooters, crystal and glass ornaments, pots and pans, dog grooming - you name it and you can just about bet on finding it for sale somewhere at Quartzsite. Above left are a few of the railroad style lamps displayed en mass by one of the antique dealers... Above right is the entrance to Hardies. Note the log construction.
Hardies was started by Ken and Alice Hardies, former Minnesota farmers who began rockhounding as a hobby and turned it into a business which has become a Quartzsite tradition.
As soon as we entered my attention was drawn to some display cases along the wall harboring a museum like display containing numerous interesting items and specimens, many of which were in the Hardies personal collection and not for sale. I couldn't help but notice a number of whimsical objects in one of the cases which were constructed from faceted gemstones. Ken is a prolific commercial faceter who sells his work at the Hardies store. He related that he enjoyed creating these offbeat gemstone representations as a break from the more routine cutting work he does.
Depicted above left is a piece made to demonstrate various colors of synthetic corundum (sapphire). The center stone is a Leuco sapphire. Then clockwise starting at the top is ruby, light orange sapphire, medium pink sapphire, blue sapphire, "Padparadscha" sapphire, "Alexandrite" color change sapphire, intense pink sapphire, and yellow topaz sapphire. The setting for these stones is 14 kt. yellow gold, made by Ken's son Steve.
Shown above right is a "Li'l Red Wagon", faceted by Ken and made of 70 carats of faceted ruby colored corundum, setting on a base of quartz.
Shown above left is an "Antique Auto" which was designed, faceted and carved by Ken from various gem materials. The body of the car was carved from Russian blue quartz. The wheels, grill and seat are citrine, each wheel having 162 facets. The headlights, windshield and base are clear quartz, and the taillights are cut from ruby corundum.
Above right is a "Mushroom with Base" which was faceted and cut by Ken from ametrine.
Depicted near right is an ironwood and gemstone bola which is Ken's handiwork circa 1978.
Shown at far right is a "Champagne Glass", faceted from blue spinel by Ken.
Above left are Ken Hardies and son Steve, who now runs Hardies Beads and Jewelry with the assistance of his wife Brenda and their two sons Jason and Adam. Each family member is an expert and skilled craftsperson in their own fields who design, cut and craft unique jewelry items. Much of the work done by Hardies family members is custom work done to order, made to fulfill their customer's wishes. Above right is a view inside Hardies showing some of their retail area.
At left is an "Antique Canon", faceted by Ken from ametrine, with a base of clear quartz.
At Hardies are several cases filled with both natural and synthetic stones for sale, a great deal of which are cut and resupplied by Ken. He reported that their sales of synthetics were brisk and that keeping up with the demand kept him rather busy at the lap. Ken said that Hardies has a fair number of repeat customers who return each year to order and purchase a companion piece such as a bracelet or ring to match previously purchased pieces such as an earrings and pendant. Nothing like satisfied customers...
Hardies is open year around in Quartzsite and Ken related that a significant portion of their year around buisness when the Quartzsite show boom was over involved wholesaling beads to bead dealers and crafts shops.
Below are "Blue Mushrooms" faceted by Ken from Russian blue quartz on a base of druzy chrysocolla. The tag for this piece carries the warning "Don't Eat Blue Mushrooms!".
If you are a faceter and should be passing through Quartzsite, Arizona on Interstate 10 sometime, don't miss the opportunity to stop by Hardies and check out some of Ken's work. While there, be sure and check out several of the Four Peaks, AZ amethysts displayed in the case of natural gemstones - some of the finest Four Peaks amethyst you will ever see, assuming they are still there... Hopefully you will also have an opportunity to chat some with Ken about faceting, which I am confident you will enjoy.
Hardies Beads and Jewelry, WWW: www.hardies-beads.com 1270 West Main St., Quartzsite, AZ 85346-1920 Phone: 800.962.2775 FAX: 928-927-4814
After leaving Hardies, Rob and I stopped by the Desert Gardens Gem and Mineral Show to look around and for Rob to pick up a customer's All-U-Need cabbing machine from Hi Tech. While there Rob purchased some faceting rough from one of the dealers, Suelene Shahbazian. When Suelene learned that Rob and I are faceting instructors, he got out this interesting jamb peg head to show us, which is manufactured in Jerusalem.