Like a modern day Indiana Jones, Dr. Robert Lavinsky travels the globe in search of rare treasures made by nature. His trips to China, Brazil and everywhere in between, take him to remote villages where miners have unearthed rare crystals, millions of years old or more, that were created by nature.
What was once seen as a hobby is finally crossing over to a collectable art form, thanks in large part to people like Dr. Lavinsky at The Arkenstone, whose influence on presenting minerals as natural art can be seen in a new generation of modern science museums such as Dallas’ own Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.
“I suggested to the Perot Museum and members of the local mineral community that we could create a model for displaying loaned minerals on a rotating basis, to give them an instant world-class collection from day one,” says Dr. Lavinsky. “This couldn’t have been done without the help of local collectors, including notable contributions from James Gibbs of Dallas, Dianne and Keith Brownlee of Dallas, Lyda Hill of Dallas, Gail and James Spann of Rockwall, Mark Pospisil of Southlake and many others. Together, we assembled a collection of gorgeous minerals that is being used to help inspire, and then educate, our next generation of scientists, teachers and collectors.”
The Perot’s displays also helped to influence Yale University’s reopening of the famous, historical Peabody Museum later this year as well as a wave of new museums in China. Once again, Dr. Lavinsky and his clients made contributions to ensure that the museum had quality pieces of “mineral art” to display.
Lavinsky explains that: “For many years, a piece of art like a Picasso or a Van Gogh was seen as something only for the institutional buyer or the very rich. This is where minerals differ. They are truly stunning to look at and bring out the academic, the historian, and yes, the collector in each of us. Also, the entry fee to this type of collectible art can be in the hundreds versus the hundreds of thousands, so more people can enjoy owning these as collectibles.”
Dr. Lavinsky’s passion for minerals runs deep and started at a young age. While attending junior high school in Ohio, Lavinsky encountered a group who were collecting minerals and fossils. He was invited to join the group and his passion for minerals was born.
The hobby became a business when Dr. Lavinsky was a student at Rice University in Houston. In the mid 1990s, he started some of the first mineral email groups as well as a website, which enabled him to sell to dealers and collectors all over the world.
Today, Dr. Lavinsky owns and operates The Arkenstone, one of the world’s foremost dealers in fine mineral specimens. Proving his deep love for all things natural, he named his company after a mythical stone from J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit—a stone that was said to have shone from its own inner light.
The Arkenstone showroom, open by appointment only, offers an international assortment of the most incredible variety of minerals and gemstones at a wide range of price points. Everyone, from new hobbyists to serious collectors to national- level museums, will be able to locate something they can own and afford.
Dr. Lavinsky points out that unlike some collectible markets, which saw their value drift downward with the advent of the internet, minerals have only grown in value with the increase in availability and transparency of information. “After the explosion of eBay, not all collectible markets were able to sustain their ‘rare’ market title. Minerals, however, are truly rare. Each is unique and irreplaceable. The market has continued to grow over time.”
Rick Villa is a freelance writer based in Dallas. He can be reached at email@example.com.