By Antoinette Rahn, Managing Editor
From the Editor: We are connecting with our regular advertisers during this time of self-quarantine in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, to learn how they are spending this time and to learn a bit more about them and their business.
In the beautiful community of Norway, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, R. Kelley Laughlin and his son, Cullen Laughlin-Yurs, are surrounded by natural beauty, and it more than serves as inspiration for the duo, it’s the very focus of their work.
Dream Job in a Dream Location
Laughlin began his business, Kelley’s Kaleidoscope, in 1984. With more than 40 years of experience in rock and gem hunting and collecting, identification, as well as lapidary work and silver jewelry design, much of his work has been a dream job in a dream location, a rockhounds dream destination certainly.
The family business includes a brick-and-mortar shop, as well as an online mail-order operation. While the Laughlins’ have temporarily closed their physical shop, in light of the country’s current state of self-quarantine, the mail-order business through the company website (www.kelleyskaleidoscope.com) continues to serve the public.
“We are still open for mail-order business,” Laughlin confirmed. “And we have used the (self-quarantine) time to reorganize our extensive stock, create more sterling silver jewelry, and cut cabochons.”
Reviewing the Kelley’s Kaleidoscope website there are a variety of avenues to navigate the Laughlin’s inventory, by specimen name, price, location, type, and there is even a $5 Mineral Specimens category, with a nice selection of minerals from deposits in the U.S. and abroad.
In addition to working in their shop, Laughlin and his son,
Cullen, attend various shows, and in the past from time to time, they’ve led groups of college students studying geology, on field trips. One of their chosen destinations has been the Spurr Mine, located in Imperial Heights, Baraga County, Michigan. This iron mine is in the Bijiki iron-formation of the Michigamme slate.
We asked R. Kelley a few additional questions, to learn a bit more about this member of the rockhounding and lapidary community.
Rock & Gem: When people ask what you do for a living, what’s your response?
R. Kelley Laughlin: I tell them I sell rocks which is silly because they are lying all over the place.
RG: Who or what is one of the greatest sources of inspiration for you, and why?
RKL: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, because he was such a diverse autodidactic polymath.
RG: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
RKL: My father once told me, "The greatest thing a person can do is forgive another person."
RG: What is one thing for which you are most grateful?
RKL: My family.
RG: Think back to when you were a child, what was one of your favorite things to do, and what made it special?
RKL: I was an explorer and would often get in trouble for wandering too far from home.
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