The showroom of Taylor’s Gold-n-Stones certainly has its share of gold, but it’s the stones that co-owners Glenn and Joe Taylor are excited to show off these days. Alaska gemstones, specifically, such as rosy, smoky and borealis quartz they find on their claims in the Brooks and Alaska ranges and garnets from the Chatanika River valley.
“We call those our Alaska gemstone treasure line,” Glenn Taylor said.
The Alaska gems complement the cases of traditional wedding sets and other jewelry that have been a mainstay of the business since it opened in 1992. Taylor’s Gold-n-Stones was voted the No. 1 jewelry store in the 2020 Readers Choice awards, only the most recent honor for the business.
The Taylors come from a hard-working homesteading family in southwest Colorado, Glenn said. They started in the jewelry business decades ago with a line of turquoise and silver jewelry hand-made by Navajo crafters. Lured by Alaska’s open spaces, fishing and opportunity to prospect for gold, they visited in 1979 and took 6 ounces of gold out of the Fortymile River in 30 hours using a 4-inch suction dredge. They were hooked and after a detour to Nevada, made Alaska their home.
They established several gold claims in the Fortymile district and the upper Kuskokwim and “we ended up doing pretty good,” Glenn said. They moved to Fairbanks and picked up more traditional jobs: Joe worked at the coal bunkers and Glenn at OK Lumber/Ace Hardware.
Joe, who first started making jewelry when he was in junior high school, is a graduate of the Gemological Institute of America.
“I always felt I wanted to make something that would last forever,” he said. “It seems kind of neat that it could be around for 1,000 years. It’s one way of expressing art in a lasting way.”
Both enjoy designing one-of-a-kind pieces that feature unusual Alaska rocks and gems.
The Taylors spend parts of the summer on a glacier in the Alaska Range that has retreated enough to have uncovered a lode of gem-quality pink tourmaline. Mining the tourmaline requires dodging rocks melting out of the glacier above, but Glenn said the two have worked out a system where one moves forward while the other keeps a lookout.
Taylor’s Gold-N-Stones has a staff of nine, most of whom have been there for years. Master faceter Ed Rouleau said patience is the secret ingredient to success as a jeweler. They also aren’t afraid to try something new and have come up with several innovations in the process of creating and mending jewelry.
One such product is what they call “Borealis Quartz,” a stone that is treated with a coat of titanium and oxygen that creates a shimmery surface that looks like the aurora. Crystal-clear quartz from a claim in the Brooks Range is cut into cubes, which they call Arctic ice cubes. The rocks may be quartz and not precious gemstones, but they’re housed in high-quality settings that bring out their colors. They source their gold from Alaska mines, as well.
2019 was their best year so far, Glenn said. And even with COVID-19 restrictions and major road construction this summer, the store is staying busy and he’s looking to top last year.
“The shop produces just about anything you can think of,” Glenn said. The nine work together closely and Glenn said “there’s no I’s, it’s all we’s. We all work for what’s best for the shop.”
And at the center are the Taylors: “We’re brothers,” Glenn said. “We’ve always worked well together.”
Contact staff writer Julie Stricker at 459-7532.