Like a Rock

Written by Leah LeMoine Category: Lifestyle Issue: October 2014
Group Mid-Level
Character count 2500

Cave Creek’s Rare Earth Gallery showcases Mother Nature’s treasure chest.
Wayne Helfand is used to the wide-eyed stares, the cautious steps, the silence broken by whispers. They’re the typical reactions of people who pop into his Rare Earth Gallery for a look around, only to have their eyes dart from sparkly stimulus to sparkly stimulus as the sheer volume of gems, geodes, jewelry, precious metals, glass art, fossils and petrified wood overtakes them.

“It’s almost like a museum,” Helfand says of his overwhelming – in a good way – collection, culled from around the globe. “Most people are awestruck when they walk in. They can’t believe it’s real.”

Even Helfand has to pinch himself when he considers the gallery, the culmination of his career as a miner, gemologist, jewelry manufacturer and gem dealer. “I’ve always liked the unusual and the very fine things,” he says – like the hulking, heart-shaped amethyst geode with calcite crystals he’s cradling below ($12,000). The gallery celebrates its two-year anniversary this month. Helfand plans to expand next year.

“Mother Earth produced these things, not me,” he says. “I am merely a purveyor.”

6333 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, facebook.com/rareearthgallerycc, 480-575-4360.