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Gems, jewels and creativity unearthed at Sandy gem faire

May 02, 2022 08:13PM ● By Heather Lawrence

Christine Thompson of Sandy cuts rocks with a saw while educating people on rock hounding at the Gem Faire. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

The Gem Faire is a national traveling show that comes to Sandy’s Mountain America Expo Center a few times a year—the most recent was April 15-17. The exhibition brings in all things rock related: jewelers, rock hounds and stone spiritualists. Several booths were run by locals.

“I’ve always loved stones and collecting them,” said Laurie Anderson, artist and owner of Rock Solid Art in Sandy (

“I love learning about the properties of stones and getting an idea of the energies they have. Eight years ago I started a business. My favorite thing is talking to customers and navigating them towards what works best for them,” Anderson said.

One of Anderson’s products is a “slice:” large geodes cut in a slice like a piece of bread, then matted and framed. On the back is information about the rock.

Wire wrapping artist Dean Bennett is also from Utah. He’s been collecting rocks, creating jewelry and teaching classes for 50 years near his home in Syracuse.

“Wire wrapping is a traditional form of setting jewelry. There’s no soldering needed because the wire holds its shape. I use square wire for the setting and the half round wire for the binding,” Bennett said.

Bennett is in high demand for classes, and the Gem Faire gives him a chance to teach without having to travel.

“I’ve taught classes at Hill Air Force Base, and I used to travel to teach and collect rocks, but I’m too old for that now,” Bennett said. For information on classes, call Bennett at 801-589-7945.

Bennett also likes the Sandy Gem Faire because he meets other collectors and gets to trade with them. Some of his favorites come from Utah and Idaho. “Idaho is a good place to find Bruneau jasper. I also like collecting Tiffany Stone and beryllium from the Delta area,” Bennett said.

Vern Rosenstiel of Rockhounders Outreach Community for Knowledge collects in Delta, Milford and Topaz Mountain. He’s a Sandy resident and the president of the educational nonprofit R.O.C.K. They meet monthly at the Viridian Center in West Jordan.

“Every month I bring my showcase to the meeting and trade with others there. We talk about geology and how to pick out, cut and polish rocks,” Rosenstiel said.

Christine Thompson of Sandy was helping Rosenstiel at the R.O.C.K. booth, and using her saw to cut shapes from rocks in her downtime.   

“I’ve been doing this for a few years, and I’ve learned a lot,” Thompson said. Thompson became so interested in rocks she started a jewelry business, Sunrise Meadow Jewelry.   

“The Gem Faire happens here three times a year, and it’s nice to have it so close to home. It’s the best place to meet other people interested in rocks and get supplies,” Thompson said.

R.O.C.K. travels to schools and does educational presentations. At their booth they promoted their junior rock hounding and geology club. For more information, contact them at 801-808-8421.

Another Sandy resident at the show was Mountain Massel, owner of Original Way Crystals (Instagram @originalwaycrystals).

Massel, who was raised in California and moved to Sandy in 2019, felt drawn to the spiritual side of rocks and crystals as a teenager.

“Millions of years of energy, heat and pressure created these crystals, and that energy is still in the rock,” Massel said.

Massel directly imports from places around the world like Brazil. One of his current favorite specimens was a green aragonite from Afghanistan. Not only was the rock an uncommon color of green; it was also unique because the surface had a rounded appearance like bubbles. 

“This is something you’re not going to see anywhere else,” Massel said.

Massel comes from a family of entrepreneurs, so it was a natural fit when he joined that background with his love of crystals and started Original Way. He’ll likely be at the next Gem Faire in Sandy July 1-3, and many more after that.

“I started my career with the Gem Faire, traveling to different locations. During COVID, I transitioned to mostly online sales, but I missed the shows and the face-to-face interaction.

“I find crystals helpful in grounding and calming myself,” Massel said. “People come to me when they are looking for something different, something they won’t see anywhere else. The Gem Faire gives me a chance to share that with them.”