Open the door to Empressive Earth Gallery and you are immediately immersed in Mother Nature’s most exquisite wonders. A wide spectrum of colors and textures glitters from one end of the showroom to the other—there are deep purple amethysts towering 10 feet tall, vivid green apophyllite and iridescent labradorite. Some minerals measure a pocketsized few inches while others weigh thousands of pounds.
But if you can direct your attention beyond the mineral splendor, you’re rewarded to find an equally rich assortment of corals. An extraordinarily large, porous blue ridge coral sits on one table. The uppermost shelf features corals that alternate between bright white staghorn and deep cranberry pipe organs. Outspread behind them lies a chestnut-colored sea fan, which stretches to fill the white space of the wall.
As you look around it is almost as if certain pieces whisper a siren’s song—calling you to revisit them again and again. “People often come in and say, ‘That’s the one,’” says Micah Gilbert, the company’s owner. “They connect with a particular piece that resonates with them for any number of reasons.”
Many of Empressive Earth Gallery’s pieces are transformed into functional décor, including tables, bowls, and various other serviceable items. Gilbert adds, “We do all of our cutting, polishing, drilling, wiring, and welding in-house, and are frequently innovating our designs to incorporate a variety of different materials such as acrylic, leather, steel, brass, and bronze.”
Due to its internal manufacturing capabilities, Empressive Earth Gallery offers custom work for any design project. One such project it is currently working on is a luxurious acrylic headboard inlaid with a thin banding of rock crystal quartz. And because it sources specimens from across the globe (e.g. Madagascar, Australia, Italy and Peru), it has a diverse inventory that meets the needs of clients across the design spectrum.
Gilbert has been responsible for all of Empressive Earth Gallery’s acquisition of specimens—even while earning his bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Pennsylvania and master’s degree in mining and geological engineering from the University of Arizona. He also has his Graduate Gemologist diploma from the Gemological Institute of America, which is useful since almost all of Empressive Earth Gallery’s rocks and minerals are classified as precious or semiprecious gemstones. His Registered Master Valuer certification is an extra bonus. Gilbert says that all of these scientific and market-based tools assist him in selecting the finest quality specimens.
Gilbert has solidified his place in the mineral business by developing working relationships with miners. “It’s exciting when the miners discover an exceptional specimen,” Gilbert says. “During one of my most recent buying trips I acquired a stunning pyrite, sphalerite and quartz specimen from Peruvian miners, which has been named The Heart of the Andes.”
“The symbolism of the piece is truly beautiful,” Gilbert continues. “Bearing a striking resemblance to the human heart, The Frozen Heart of the Andes tells a poignant story about the human condition. An unrelenting flurry of quartz crystals—resembling ice— endeavors to transform the heart into that which is cold and numb. Yet, the smoldering fire within the heart still burns, defiantly repelling the frosty bitterness that seeks to overwhelm it. Pyrite, named after the Greek word ‘pyr’ meaning ‘fire,’ is the fire within this piece; its large and powerfully lustrous cubes blaze brightly, fueled by the charcoal-like sphalerite, forbidding the heart’s surrender.”
Gilbert is committed to preserving the historical, regional and environmental constitution of all specimens, whether they are minerals, corals or other creations of nature. It is important that all of Empressive Earth Gallery’s sources follow environmental laws that do not damage the existing environment. “For us, it’s always been about bringing a piece of nature into someone’s home or office so they can enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty of our world,” Gilbert says.
However, while it is Mother Nature that creates these dazzling works of art, it is Empressive Earth Gallery that prepares and artistically displays them, making them not only marvelous natural décor but a true treasure to the purchaser.
Krista Franks Brock is a Dallas-based freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about art and design. For more information visit kristafranksbrock.wordpress.com.