With over 150 years of combined collecting experience, The Arkenstone offers a team of professional mineral collectors to help guide and build your collection.
Dr. Robert Lavinsky, President and Founder
A collector from the age of 12, Dr. Robert Lavinsky first started participating in mineral shows at the age of 14. He initially planned to launch his career in molecular genetics and received his doctoral degree from UC-San Diego, but his passion for minerals led to a career change. Rob realized the potential to move the mineral world online and www.iRocks.com became the first mineral-selling website online in 1996. Since then, he has been a full-time dedicated mineral dealer and recently had a new mineral, Lavinskyite, named after him.
Kevin Brown started collecting minerals as a child with specimens purchased at rock shops and field collected on family vacations. His drive to become a collector of high quality minerals began over 30 years ago. Originally a collector of world-wide minerals, Kevin began collecting only minerals specimens from the U.S. in the late 1990’s. His passion is to collect colorful, finely crystalized specimens, especially those which are world class and rival those found anywhere in the world. His current collection has been the focus of the “Meet the Collector” day at the Westward Look mineral show in Tucson of February 2013. His collection has also been included in The Texas Collectors edition of the Mineralogical Record. Kevin recently loaned various mineral specimens from his personal collection to the Perot Museum of Science and Nature in Dallas, Texas, to help complete their incredible display.
Jeff Starr is a geologist, retired Science teacher and soccer coach, now working full time at The Arkenstone. Once he began collecting seriously, much of his focus was on Fluorite for its wide range of colors, habits, and associations, as well as its affordability. As his collecting has matured, his collection has broadened. Aesthetics are the number one priority for him when choosing specimens for his collection.
Karl Warning was exposed to nature, museums and minerals as a child on annual family driving vacations and began collecting/buying specimens when attending the University of Texas at Austin in Petroleum Geology. The mineral collecting disease really took hold when he joined the working world and has not abated since. He started working at The Arkenstone in 2003, permitting him to work every day in his passion. Karl collects aesthetic specimens from world wide localities in the miniature to small cabinet size, with particular emphasis on calcite and pyromorphite.
Wally started collecting fine mineral specimens in 1980 shortly after discovering a copy of the Mineralogical Record in a rock shop. He has been a member of the Dallas collecting community since 1981 and has attended nearly 30 Tucson shows. He reads the complete set of Mineralogical Record every year (1971-present) and seems to have a photographic memory for illustrated specimens – several of which he has spotted on our shelves sitting there unrecognized! Worldwide mineral specimens of exceptional quality and aesthetics from miniature through cabinet size comprise his small but select collection. After selling his first collection in 2012, he has been actively pursuing the best specimens he can acquire. Wally is also an avid bibliophile with more than 500 books, mostly antique, on mineralogy.
John Chen, China Division Manager
John Chen has been a friend to The Arkenstone for years, and now has become our China Division Manager. He has enjoyed natural science since he was a child, which led him to learn about geology while getting a management BS in university. He became a serious mineral collector in 2005 and now travels throughout China as the China manager for The Arkenstone. He also travels internationally to acquire new mineral specimens.
Joe Budd, Lead Photographer
Joe Budd is a professional product photographer with a BFA in commercial and digital photography from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. He came to mineral photography upon returning to Texas in 2008 and quickly escalated to be one of the top mineral photographers in the industry. You’ll find Joe’s work on many covers of major mineral magazines and books, as well as numerous advertising posters for top mineral shows.
He also works independently by contract to top collectors and dealers around the world and at major mineral shows such as Tucson, Munich, Denver, and Houston.
Monica’s first foray into the mineral world started shortly after her parents began collecting. She was living in Shanghai using her degrees in Business and Mandarin working in imports when she helped Rob during a mineral show in China, and she gradually became more involved in The Arkenstone’s activities in China by assisting in expo planning, client relations, and translating. While she only started with the company in early 2013, she has been quickly learning about minerals and has enjoyed the willingness of others to share their passion for collecting. At The Arkenstone, she also assists with web and print design as well as directing the Dallas Mineral Collecting Symposium.