Just beyond the doorway of a store on Washington Boulevard, a sign warns, “Caution: Rocks can be habit-forming.” Inside the store are thousands of rocks lining shelves, and strands of beads hang on nearly every foot of the north-facing wall. Located directly in the center of the shop is a waterfall that houses a school of eager koi fish. A fish food dispenser with a small sign reads, “All proceeds return to the critters.”
Since Dennis Bryson founded it in 1984, Bryson’s Rock Shop has sought to be a sturdy platform for geology in Ogden. Offering everything from fossils and crystals to custom jewelry, Bryson’s Rock Shop is now located at 326 Washington Blvd.
Current owner Dave Wonderly carries on the geological legacy passed down from his stepfather, Bryson. Bryson fulfilled a lifelong passion for geology by starting a store that brought together a wide array of rocks, gems and fossils for Ogden’s rock enthusiasts.
Bruce Nielsen, metalsmith, started out as a customer at Bryson’s Rock Shop about 25 years ago. Nielsen soon became close friends with Bryson. With Bryson’s encouragement, Nielsen’s hobby went from interest to profession. He now runs a jewelry-making business out of Bryson’s Rock Shop called theArt of Jewelry Making.
“I started cutting them and polishing them, along with learning more about doing the silver work,” Nielsen said. “As years went by, Dennis got ill, and as he was passing away he asked me to take over the silver work. I teach the classes because it not only helps them, it helps us. We’re trying to get more metalsmiths out there; it’s a dying skill. I’m trying to teach them the whole thing. We offer casting, sautering, silversmithing, beading and wire-wrapping. You can do any or all of them. We custom-build from start to finish.”
The metalsmith profession is fading out, and the Art of Jewelry Making hopes to ignite a passion among students who can carry on the art of metalsmithing for generations to come.
“Some of it comes from Utah, but we receive rocks from all over the world,” Nielsen said. “We’ll send some of it from Utah to be cut into beads in China. So it’s picked up here, sent to China and comes back cut, so it’s pretty cool. We even go out and get a lot of the rocks too, when we’re able to. From the Western Desert to the mountains to Dougway, you name it, we’re all over.”
According to longtime customer Dave Montgomery, “Some of these things just look like old, ordinary rocks, but when you cut them in half and polish them up, it’s amazing.”
Behind the shop are rows of crates with rough rock for people who already own their own equipment.
“We sell a lot of it all over the country for specimens, because a lot of this stuff only comes from Utah, like varicose,” Nielsen said.
Although Bryson’s Rock Shop distributes rock nationally, Neilsen said it has always acted with an emphasis on local community. He encourages Ogdenites to take up geology as their next family hobby.
“Come down here,” he said, “because it’s a hobby that once you start, you may never, ever stop.”