When Mark was in first grade, another student shared with him that student’s dad’s Oregon opal that was in a sealed jar filled with water for show and tell. Mark was mesmerized, and his fascination with rocks has continued since that day.
While Mark’s art teachers found he naturally excelled in his classes, he never discovered his true “home” within an art genre until a pivotal moment when he stumbled across a copy of Lapidary Arts Magazine in 2000. It was an “ah ha” moment that he will never forget. His passion for art and rocks came together resulting in a natural affinity for Lapidary Arts. He knew from that moment on that he would devote all of his time, resources and energy into being the best lapidary and jeweler he could be. He had found his artistic home.
In June of 2000, he attended his very first gem show in Las Vegas. An opal cutter gave him a step-by-step demonstration of how to cut an opal cabochon. He immediately purchased his first Hi Tech flat lap machine and a parcel of Lightning Ridge Opal. He continued purchasing a diverse collection of rocks and gems, always looking for top quality of each particular gem material.
In 2006, a portion of the Tom Helfrich’s collection of dinosaur bone began getting auctioned off on eBay. He purchased a couple of Tom’s books “American Dinosaur: The Vanishing of Gembone” and as much dinosaur bone as he could afford. Later that year he made his first sterling silver, lost wax casting inlay ring with gembone (high grade dinosaur bone).
In 2007, Mark authored his first article, a step-by-step demonstration on how to create an inlay ring for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist Magazine. It was published, and he continued to work on magazine articles from 2007-2009.
In 2008, he was featured on the cover of Art Jewelry Magazine. In 2010, Mark contributed work to Renee Newman’s book series Exotic Gems Volume 1, and in 2011, he helped write the chapter on dinosaur bone and provided many of the gembone photos within the chapter. This is one of very few books that provide detailed information on gem dinosaur bone. Ms. Newman included one of Mark’s 14k gold gembone rings on the cover. He also exposed some imitations that were being sold as dinosaur bone. Although he works with many different gems in his line of work, gem grade dinosaur bone is his favorite.