What brings a young man from San Diego to an area like Walker Lake? “It was my interest of mining beautiful gemstones that can be located most anywhere in this vast area and be developed into jewelry or art projects right in my own shop,” was Jay Shaw’s response.
With an interest in rocks stemming from a friendship with an actual mine owner, Shaw began a self-taught career in his early twenties.
“I started off as a roofer, but it was never my passion – rocks intrigued me and sparked my interest enough to begin begging a geologist to allow me to mentor under his expertise,” he said. “I started out as a helper but soon began mining beside him. He was the person that led me to Walker Lake. Now I oversee some of his mines in the area and I love living here. Besides the mining, I wake up to a million dollar view of the lake every morning.”
Along U.S. Highway 95, a large red sign greets passerby’s to a simple business that reads “Rock Shop”. Inside one can find low priced, rough-cut stones, next to many quality artisan jewelry pieces which Shaw creates almost daily.
“When I’m not out mining, I am creating,” he said.
One of Shaw’s new ventures is using cut gems as a stained glass window design, as seen on display in the front window of his shop. As one that is humble to learn from others, a visitor to his shop not only left a sample of his own design, he also taught Shaw the steps to create his own window-framed designs.
“Stain glass is not easy. It can take me days and hours to complete, so its time consuming. Again, it’s just another outlet in using the old glass pieces and designed rocks I find on my hunts. I’ve even found unique rocks just walking around on my own property. I seem to have a gift of seeing special pieces that are just lying around.”
Shaw is quite the craftsman as he has many unique pieces using rocks and gemstones in a variety of displays within his small showroom. As a jeweler, he takes on custom projects that includes setting stones in specific ways, as he predominantly works with sterling silver, but has a vast array of products.
Shaw extended his interest into taking people out on mining excursions, enjoying the great outdoor experience with novices that want to chip out their own turquoise.
“I allow them the chance to mine it then I make it into a custom piece, so it’s a full involvement for my customer. For most, it’s an awesome chance to realize the greatness of the hunt for stones. I teach them as we go, so I can tell them what they find and show them how to follow the earth’s silent lessons on mining,” he said.
Shaw has been able to utilize several media sources such as Facebook, email and etsy.com to further his connective abilities in selling his wares. His business is known as Jays Gemstone Jewelry. He says his local community is his best support as his local friends and neighbors are always stopping by with everything from food to jewelry needs.
“I would never live anywhere else – this is just the best of all worlds for me right here.”