Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published September 10th 2012
An Aladdin's Cave
When you have a specialist interest like rock collecting, it can be hard to find the right shop. There are gift shops and places where you might find a few tumbled stones for sale as a memento, but locating an actual rock shop can be difficult.
There used to be one in Richmond, and there used to be one up North in Kendal, but they both closed down. I think when you run a business that has a niche market, there is always the danger of closing, especially when the economy is in crisis.
I consider myself lucky to live near a rock shop that seems to have withstood the test of the hard times. Charlie's Rock Shop at the Abbey Mills is like an Aladdin's cave. I think the reason why he does so well is because he caters for everybody; whether you just love wearing jewellery, or whether you are a serious collector, Charlie's has a huge range.
Usually I don't plan on buying anything and just want to look at all the beautiful items on display, but more often than not I find them too tempting, and come out with a basketful of more stones to add to my collection.
As well as stones, Charlie also sells fossils. Some are the usual sea creatures you find encased in rock, but he also has some real gems (no pun intended). I once bought a mammoth tooth from his shop, and not long ago he was selling an authentic dinosaur egg. He had an article from the National Geographic to go with it, which meant you could also learn about the science behind it.
That's another great thing about Charlie's. The guy knows his stuff. Ask him a question about a certain stone and he'll know the answer. He also sells several different crystal books, so you can learn how to identify stones yourself.
Even if you are not interested in collecting you will find something that you like. There are mobiles, wind chimes, and semi-precious stones carved into animals. Charlie also sells neat birthday cards that explain your star sign and come with your birthstone attached.
There is jewellery that ranges from cheap elasticated bracelets, to gem stone necklaces. There is also a crafts table where you can make your own charm bracelets. It's like those children's kits you can buy, only using real gems instead of plastic beads.
His prices range from tumbled stones at a £1 to large geodes over £500. The most expensive item I've seen there was a large Quartz sphere for £950. It had no occlusions and the light shone through it when you held it by the sun.
Many shops have come and gone from the Abbey Mills, but I can't remember a time when Charlie's Rock Shop wasn't there, and I hope it stays for many years to come.