Inside the geode business

Bob Halem
Manager, Royal West Warehouse
Interview with Bob Halem, Manager, Royal West Warehouse
At 79 years of age, Bob Halem loves reminiscing about the serendipity that brought him into the world of coloured stones. He was strolling along the Oregon coast near his home when he came upon a group of beachcombers.  He went up to one of them to ask what they were looking for, and the woman held out a beach agate. Fascinated from the outset, Bob bent over and started collecting bags-full for himself. Twenty-five pounds of beach agates and tons of fine purple amethyst later, Bob proudly looks back on a career as a supplier of choice for museums such as The Smithsonian and some of the nation’s top interior designers.

In this exclusive interview with GIA conducted at the 2013 Tucson Gem Show, Bob reflects upon the early days when there was only one show in town; he now shakes his head in amazement at the 40 or so shows that dot the Tucson landscape every February. He also measures the time by his own schedule. In earlier days, he tells us, he attended up to 48 shows a year, or almost one a week. Nowadays he does just two, but the two he does are done for the sheer joy of it.

He can afford to scale back like this because Royal West Warehouse has firmly established itself as a dealer in first class geodes for its reliable customer base. Most of the company’s product comes from Brazil, where its buyers handpick the specimens to send back to Oregon. For all of its heftiness, the material can sometimes break or shatter during the mining, the shipping or the unpacking. So care and precision are necessary all along the supply chain, and Bob is quick to thank his warehouse crew for the job they do in handling the valuable goods.

Mr. Halem was at the Tucson show with a large variety of quartz geodes as part of his inventory. He spoke to us on a wealth of topics, from geode sources, quartz treatments, geode cutting and evaluating geode qualities to packing geodes and the geode business.