Robert Lavinsky, owner of The Arkenstone, shows minerals and gems Friday at Ildiko Contemporary Fine Art Gallery, by Ildiko Varga's paintings.
doesn't deal in works by Picasso, Rembrandt or Monet.
In fact, don't expect to see any signature on the exotic pieces he
displays - they were created millions of years ago by powerful geological forces.
"It's nature's art," he
said last week as he
prepared for his
first Palm Beach show at the Ildiko Contemporary Fine Art Gallery
on North County Road.
"People call it God's
art if you believe in God
High-end art is often more than just a way to add class to a home or office - it can be a desirable investment vehicle.
, through his
company, The Arkenstone
, has been pursuing that avenue while promoting his
pieces at museums and trade shows around the world.
also wants people to appreciate the science behind the business, how the minerals and crystals are formed and how rare the most dramatic discoveries are.
talks rapidly and excitedly about the pieces he
sets out for display.
a brave woman to let me exhibit rocks."
People are familiar with the value of gems but less so with the value of the original crystals they are cut from.
"What we're trying to teach people is that the crystals are worth more than the gems," Lavinsky
It is "one of the most expensive objects in the entire universe of mineral specimens," according to Lavinsky
began collecting fossils and rocks by the side of the road when he
was growing up in Ohio.
started selling some of his
more interesting finds at the age of 13.
launched The Arkenstone
as a side business in the 1980s, working with hobbyists and collectors, and eventually building it into an international company with offices in Dallas and Shanghai, China.
company hosted the first mineral-selling website in 1996.
Some of the most stunning finds come from mines in China because the Chinese are less prone to using heavy equipment to get material out of the ground.
"American mining is very mechanized," Lavinsky
"You wouldn't hear people say, Let's take a break to check for crystals.
But in places like China you will hear them say, 'OK, I see a crystal - let's take a break.' "
It takes time and care to remove the crystals from their positions in the Earth, where they might have been formed 10 million years ago or more by heat and pressure.
"They form in a crevice or a space and just sit there waiting to be found," Lavinsky