Rob Lorda- Mineral Laboratory Manager
My first exposure to minerals began when I was three years old and Mom was cleaning the neighbor’s decorative rock with the washing machine. As I got older, I had a curiosity for those strange and fascinating crystals. Grandma would bring me rocks from the gift shops that she visited in her travels. Years later, Grandma gave me a rhodochrosite specimen that her Mom had collected from the Silverton, Colorado area.
During my high school years, my friend Phil and I would prospect for gold on the American River above Auburn, California, where we would find gold flour, flakes and a few nuggets. But my prospecting really took off when I found the “digging club” when I was at the Colorado School of Mines. There I met many likeminded prospectors. If we had an extra $15 for fuel, we went out digging somewhere, rain, snow or sun, the weather didn’t matter.
One summer, Ryan Bowling and I were prospecting when we met Paul Gefner and Byron Weege, during the time of their great discoveries on The Rocket claim. Also that summer, I had the excellent opportunity to learn from Dave Wilber and his selective eye for display. I was also influenced by Bill Hawes. Bill had just finished working on the Alma King and the Alma Rose, and introduced me to Bryan Lees. I began to work part time for Bryan, who imparted his knowledge into the mix. By the end of that first summer, I took a break from school and started to learn full time.
The small mountains of beautiful minerals that move through the lab each year are a great treat to study but the real excitement are those special projects, such as helping design the “Rhodo Stope” at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I have had the honor of working on such famous specimens as the 44 pound leaf gold that is on display at Ironstone Vineyards in California; the “Gold Dragon” from the Colorado Quartz Mine; and the “Gold Pocket” from Colorado Quartz Mine. One special project that really pushed me to improve my skills were the emeralds from Zambia which required careful extrication from the quartz.
It has been my pleasure to work with and learn from the crew at the Collectors Edge, both past and present. Simply put, there are so many that I have learned from and worked with over the years and I am thankful for the knowledge I gained from them. The satisfaction and the experience I have enjoyed here at Collectors Edge would not have been possible without the people I have met and worked with over the years.