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Enchanted Rocks & Jewelry is the mother lode

Frank Rowell, who runs Enchanted Rocks & Jewelry rock shop in Llano with partner Patty Felt, is happy to help beginning rockhounds learn about the geological riches of Llano County. Photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Llano County is a certified gem in the Lone Star State, but it also has an international reputation as a world-class geological wonderland. Frank Rowell and Patty Felt run Enchanted Rocks & Jewelry, a rock shop that serves as the heart of the local rockhound community and a perfect stop on a day trip through the Texas Hill Country.

This part of the state lies within a unique geological formation called the Llano Uplift. Some of the minerals found here are not seen anywhere else in the world.

“Llano just has so many awesome minerals,” Felt said. “The Llano uplift is almost 2 billion years old and has some of the oldest rocks on the North American continent.”

With a lifelong interest in geology and jewelry, it was only natural that Rowell and Felt staked a claim in the Llano Uplift. Although the couple took over the rock shop in 2007, it has been around since the 1960s.

The unmistakable and ever-present pink granite of Llano County has long been a draw for the geologically inclined. One of the oldest buildings in town, The Badu House, was built in 1890 and owned by a famous mineralogist, N.J Badu, who chose Llano as his home so he could pursue cutting-edge geological work. His interest included the study of a unique form of granite called Llanite, named after the county because it is only found here.

Besides examples of Llanite and a staggering selection of gems, stones, and fossils, you’ll also find handcrafted pieces by both Rowell and Felt at Enchanted Rocks & Jewelry. The couple's love for rocks and geology naturally led to an interest in jewelry, which tends to be made of minerals and metal. Felt learned silversmithing in New Mexico; Rowell has been working in jewelry for over 45 years.

Beyond browsing and buying, the shop is a hub for rockhounds. “Rockhounding” is the easy-going term for the efforts of hobbyists who dedicate their time to searching for minerals. The Llano Uplift attracts rockhounds from across Texas.

"It's well known pretty much around the world,” said Rowell, who is the president of the Fredericksburg Rock Club. “People know of the Llano Uplift rock shop in Germany and Tokyo. They’re aware of it. Llano is kind of the center of rock collecting areas in Texas.”

Rockhounds visiting the shop swap stories and become instant friends over a shared love of stones, no matter where they are from.

Rowell and Felt love to share their wealth of knowledge on how best to get started in rockhounding in the Hill Country.

“We can show the amateur a couple of places where they can collect,” Felt said. “The biggest problem in Texas is that we do not have open public land.”

The couple agreed that the best way to hunt for rocks of your own is walking the bed of the Llano River, which is easily accessible, open to the public, and a naturally superb place to find all kinds of minerals and stones.

“The riverbed really covers a lot,” Rowell said. “All of the areas west of here end up in the river at some point.”

Enchanted Rocks & Jewelry is located at 805 Berry St. in Llano. For more information, visit its website at enchantedrocksandjewelry.com.

editor@thepicayune.com

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