From “Precious Metals, Precious Stones: The Dazzle of Locally Created Jewelry” by Kathleen McFadden in the Summer Times: The Summer of 2003, a publication of The Mountain Times .
If you attend any area festivals this summer, you just might run into Jim and Cindy Rice. Jim is another local resident who creates distinctive jewelry, and his pieces reflect his lifelong interest in stones, fossils and meteorites. He calls his line Turtle Old Man. Working with materials that are millions and even billions of years old, Jim creates simple prong settings in fine silver that emphasize the natural features of the stone and allow them — instead of the metalwork — to make the statement. “1 feel like my job is to put a frame around this stuff so other people can enjoy it. I love it when people find their perfect piece of jewelry,” he says.
Jim attends a mammoth rock and mineral show in Tucson each year where he spends countless hours combing through the offerings of thousands of retailers. Jim uses his keen powers of discernment — he says he can always find a four-leaf clover, even when others can’t to choose just the right stones. From 400 similar stones, he may select a mere dozen as acceptable. He is particularly fond of stones with distinctive patterns and shapes. He looks for pictures in his rocks, feeling that the natural striations and deposits add depth apd dimension. The fact that these pictures in stone, as well as the perfect symmetry of ancient fossils, are all naturally created is a source of continuing fascination and a subject that he loves to discuss. Jim can tell you the name and age of every treasure he sets, whether fossilized coral, English picture limestone, dinosaur bone, meteorite, fossilized wood, or the infinite variety of other cut and polished rocks and minerals he fashions into pendants, earrings and rings.
Jim’s interests in jewelry making began about five years ago when he took a craft enrichment class, hoping to learn wire-wrapping techniques. The instructor focused on other skills and Jim didn’t learn how to wire wrap, but the workshop awakened a latent talent and enthusiasm and he continued to pursue his new hobby through additional classes and workshops. Jim ended up teaching himself how to wire wrap and even eventually began teaching jewelry-making class himself. These days, his biggest reward in the studio is seeing students have creative epiphanies similar to the one he experienced five years ago.
In addition to showing at summer festivals (his show schedule is posted at his Web site), Jim also maintains a Turtle Old Man vignette (a sales display) at The Shoppes at Farmers Hardware in downtown Boone. For additional information on Jim’s jewelry, click to www.turtleoldman.com.