Jim’s Gems – Booth 401
Jim Runkle, from DeLeon Springs in Volusia County, Florida, designs and produces rings, pendants, earrings and other fine jewelry from opals he and his wife, Barbara, mine in Australia at Lightning Ridge, New South Wales. Jim’s Gems, the Runkle’s national and international enterprise, is the 2017 Market Days Featured Artist. Jim has specialized in opal jewelry for the last 25 years and has been a jewelry artist for 40 years.
Jim and Barbara spend six or seven months a year at their opal mine in Lightning Ridge. The opals are mined and cut in Australia, but the jewelry is produced in the United States. The rest of the year is in the U.S. at their home in DeLeon Springs near DeLand in Volusia County or traveling to art and gem and mineral shows.
“We love it over there,” Barbara says of Australia, but DeLeon Springs has been their home for decades. Jim was a Florida Highway Patrol trooper in Volusia County and the couple raised their family there. Jim usually worked the night shift and, according to Barbara, “needed something to occupy himself in the daytime.” He learned to cut gemstones from his father. “All our stones are solid opal. We do it from the ground up,” Barbara says. “We mine them and cut them. Jim designs and casts the jewelry and then we try to sell it.”
Market Days is one of only two art shows Jim and Barbara attend regularly, and they have been regulars at Market Days for three decades. Be sure to check out their beautiful work during this year’s event!