About Earth’s Treasury
I started Earth’s Treasury at the end of 2012. I’ve had a passion for minerals and gemstones since I was a small boy, when I dreamed of being a mineralogist. Life led me elsewhere, first to graduate school to pursue a PhD in Molecular Evolutionary Biology, and then into the world of technology and international finance. I left grad school before finishing my PhD thesis and started my first business, a very successful regional information technology consulting firm. The business won a number of awards and I was recognized regionally as an up and coming entrepreneur. Along the way, I was awarded my Masters degree for my graduate work–I refer to it as my “consolation prize.” After six years of rapid growth, I decided to merge my company with a large national accounting firm rather than seek venture capital funding. In short order I was asked to lead that firm’s national IT consulting business and serve as their Chief Technology Officer. I led that business to new levels of success and was even featured in a cover story for “Accounting Technology” magazine. While I enjoyed my time with that firm, after several years I chose to take a new opportunity with a globally recognized leader in finance and departed for Los Angeles. As Chief Technology Officer of for this firm, I created a new strategy that helped lead the business to new success. I was subsequently appointed Chief Operating Officer of their analytics software business and turned that business around, positioning it for renewed growth. While I experienced great success in the corporate executive roles I filled, I longed to go back to my entrepreneurial roots and pursue some of my many passions.
In 2011, while on a trip in western San Diego County to hunt for rare wildflowers, I was reminded of the fact that southern California hosts a number of gem-bearing pegmatite deposits when I came across an exposed pegmatite. As I dug through the float material around the pegmatite I found some beautiful schorl crystals. While I had kept an interest in minerals and had been building a collection through purchases, this rekindled my interest in minerals and gemstones to a much higher degree, especially my interest in collecting my own gems and minerals. I began researching collecting localities in southern California and in the process I made a connection with the team at the Oceanview Mine in Pala, California. Starting in the spring of 2012, I began working with the mining crew at the Oceanview Mine. I was fortunate that the crew allowed me to join them working underground, and after a period of training I received my MSHA certification as an underground hard rock miner. I spent nearly a year working with the crew several days a week, drilling, blasting and mucking–all in the pursuit of gems and minerals. As an avid photographer, I posted pictures of many of my adventures online, and soon my friends and family began asking if I could get them faceted gemstones, jewelry or mineral specimens. I realized that this was my opportunity to pursue my passions and return to being an entrepreneur, and made the decision to found Earth’s Treasury.
Initially the business focused on the sale of gem minerals and gems and jewelry created by others, but I was driven to learn the art of cutting gems. With the mentoring of several master gem cutters and friends, I learned this craft in early 2013 and now I create many of the custom-cut collector and fine gems seen on this website–although I also love to feature the precision gem cutting work of others here as well. Starting in 2014, I decided to focus heavily on Montana sapphires, as I felt they were a vastly underappreciated gemstone. I’m proud to have played a key role in bringing knowledge of this beautiful American gemstone to much higher level of awareness. Currently you find that no one else has even remotely the wide selection of Montana Sapphires as we do. As jewelry sales grew, in 2019 I decided to expand the business in that direction, hiring Lauryn Volovar, who’s now our lead jewelry designer. This portion of the business continues to grow rapidly.
Earth’s Treasury has now become my full-time vocation, not just a passion. It’s the second business I’ve started, and I’m excited to once again be pursuing my entrepreneurial interests while combining those with my passion for gems and minerals. The team we’ve built here is passionate about what we do and provide superior customer service. Let us help create that heirloom piece of jewelry you are dreaming of! I hope you enjoy what I have put together here.
–Jeff Hapeman, Founder of Earth’s Treasury
The Earth’s Treasury Team
Lauryn Volovar, G.G.: Head of Jewelry Design
As a child I developed a love for rocks and gems, obtaining a huge collection of inexpensive stones that still sit on my desk at home to this day. As an aspiring artist without a clear idea of what direction I wanted to follow in life, I enrolled in the Tyler School of Art at Temple University and remembering my love of minerals, decided to take a jewelry making class. In the metals/jewelry/CAD-CAM department, I learned ancient jewelry making techniques on the bench in combination with cutting edge CAD-CAM and 3D printing technology, giving me a comprehensive set of skills to apply to jewelry design. I wanted to immerse myself in the industry after graduation and so I took a full time job at a fine jewelry store. There I learned about the world of gemology, and just six months after getting my BFA, I applied for and received the Richard T. Liddicoat Scholarship from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). I completed the GIA Graduate Gemologist (G.G.) program over two years, during which I transitioned from retail to a full time job as a goldsmith, honing my jewelry making abilities.
I stayed active as a gemologist by appraising jewelry on nights and weekends, and looked for other ways to further my education. I joined the board of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Women’s Jewelry Association, and participated in mentorship programs through the American Gem Society and social media platforms. Through this, I met my gemological mentor and started a podcast called Gemology Worldwide, where we discuss relevant topics in the world of gems and interview experts in the field. As fate would have it, Jeff Hapeman was our first guest on the show. After our interview, he revealed his need for an artist to create one-of-a-kind pieces for his incredibly unique gemstones, and brought me on as Earth’s Treasury’s full time jewelry designer. I’m so inspired by the color and sparkle I see here every day, and love combining my passions as an artist, maker, and gemologist. Keep checking the site for new designs, and please contact me to get started on a custom piece of jewelry!
Tessa Paige, Inventory and Operations Specialist
Caroline Patterson: Lead Bench Jeweler
As a young adolescent my creative expressionism began in the art studios at the Baum School of Art located in Allentown, PA. When I met the age requirements to attend the jewelry workshop I loved nothing more than fabricating my own designs. I spent summer weekends traveling to different antique malls, flea markets, and yard sales stocking up on costume jewelry and vintage treasures. I’d deconstruct and build wearable sculptures out of my found objects and show them off at different art festivals and craft shows hoping that one day I’d have the skills to manufacture fine jewelry. I obtained my BFA double major in Metals & Jewelry and Art Therapy from Arcadia University in the spring of 2019 where I learned a plethora of skills to help land me a job in the industry after graduation. My time mass producing gold body jewelry came to an end in April of 2021 when I eagerly accepted a position with the fabulous team at Earth’s Treasury. I truly believe that an object that holds great value, is loved, and treasured is precious and look forward to carefully crafting these precious pieces of work.
Julia Ballaron: Jewelry Designer
I’m passionate about art, design, history, travel – and jewelry. Some of my earliest memories involve art projects and drawing; I lost count growing up of how many times I was scolded for drawing in the margins during class while in school. Over the summers while in High School I worked as a Portrait Artist at Hersheypark and traveled to Europe with American Music Abroad and my school’s foreign language program. These experiences influenced my decision to pursue art and design in college. During my Freshman Foundations year at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, I discovered the specialization of jewelry and my passion for this “small scale sculpture for the body”, as our program head described it at the time. Once I dove into the Metals/Jewelry/CAD-CAM program, I studied both traditional and cutting-edge methods of jewelry and object creation and began my formal education with Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing. In addition, I broadened my experience in art by pursuing an Art History Minor, which is how I traveled to Rome for a semester in my junior year.
Nina Reisinger: Jewelry Designer and Shipping Lead
Nick Hays, Bench Jeweler
As a newly graduated high school student I was looking for a path in life but what I found was my passion. I started my career in jewelry with an apprenticeship at a jewelry repair center. I learned how to repair just about any piece of jewelry and the basics of stone setting. I fell in love with the process of taking a damaged piece and making it beautiful again. My time there came to an end in May of 2023 where I started at Earths Treasury. I’m happy developing my skills further every day and getting to set one of a kind stones in every job we have here at Earth’s Treasury. I love being a part of the process of so many finding a piece of jewelry they love and being able to be the one to bring their ideas to life.
Colleen Schwarz, Bench Jeweler
My passion for jewelry started in 2010 while attending The Academy of Art in San Francisco. I took one class, fell in love with the process, and never looked back. When I’m not making jewelry, I enjoy being in nature, collecting crystals, pressing flowers, cuddling with my Cane Corso, and spending time with family.
Haley Domzalski, Product Photography and Shipping
Oliver “Ollie” Hapeman, Head of Security
Ollie first joined the Earth’s Treasury team as a puppy, back in 2018, when he had to spend a few weeks in the cone of shame, and needed some extra love and monitoring. He was so popular with the delivery people and everyone else, that he joined us in a semi-permanent role as Head of Security. On the days he’s in the office, no one can come to the door without a greeting, and we advise those that do to bribe him with treats.