Mineral County Correspondence – February 2017


Finding Hidden Jewels in Schurz

The town advertises fireworks sold at several locations, a gas station with a mini market and some out buildings, laid out among a valley of residential homes within the vast fields on the northern edge of Mineral County’s Indian Reservation known as Schurz. Yet amidst this rural scene sits a treasure trove that is easily passed by unnoticed among these few Highway 95 sites.

The Rock Chuck Gem and Mineral Gallery may give a first impression of being a dusty old roadside vendor — as if it once was a hub for grubby rock hunters to meet, or a stop for those seeking a stone mason. The sturdy, handmade rock pillars lined up outside give an aged appearance of a tradesman’s shop long gone, but this is contrary to the fact that the young man inside still carries on the family tradition by mining, gathering and making custom monuments, rock displays and creative pieces by request — hidden jewels of a refined talent.

The large cinder-block building, with the bold block lettering of ROCK CHUCK hand-painted under the roof, draws a brief wonderment, with most drivers questioning the mysterious location when slowing down to enter the tiny township. Surprisingly, inside this highway-side corner lurks a stunning gallery of gems, art and minerals to inspire any visitor.

Once the Keady family business, the sons were raised in the rock and mason’s trade. A tribute to the Keady’s parents is apparent within the large, garage-style business.  As the roll up doors open, one is greeted by the smiles of John and Chelsea, the young couple running the business today. Surrounded by endless gems that are presented in all phases, custom jewelry pieces are encased in their own unique designs, while one-of-a-kind items are found throughout the store. Within the rural districts of Nevada there is an old and rich lore which surrounds mining, and John and Chelsea welcome questions from visitors, share their knowledge and tell of their own adventures. They still practice mining throughout the week, digging at their own local mines.

Not a couple to shy away from the nitty-gritty experience of actually digging the minerals and gems they find, this is not your standard jeweler. Although Chelsea once worked as a trained, GIA-certified diamond expert in a San Diego jewelry store, she always wanted to work at the raw stage of rocks — that is, to become a “rock chucker.” The couple goes exploring, hiking into secluded areas carrying equipment and heavy backpacks, spending hours chipping away at potential finds. With a wealth of information, they are eager to meet with any miner or geologist to share facts, stories and surprises. They have been accepted by a network of experts, which enhances the merchandise their store offers, as others trade gems and rocks that are on display. Representing Nevada’s small independent miners, John and Chelsea recently located an unusual agate cut in their mine, which they are trademarking as Pearly Gates and Hells Fire.

The Rock Chuck is a place of surprising beauty, with an inside waterfall which houses golden fish in a small pond and rough hewn benches that allow you the privilege of relaxing within the atmosphere of rocks of various colors and shapes, many in their primitive forms. Their local turquoise on display comes in a wide range of colors. Children can take a free polished rock from the treasure chest, and parents can enjoy the precious stones and amazing mineral specimens housed throughout the shop. The Rock Chuck encourages a touchy-feely experience.

Check out The Rock Chuck on Facebook or call 760-978-4567 in advance for store hours.

— Sheri Samson