2nd Generation Mining

Join Forestview Teacher Jim Reed for a Lesson in Silversmithing

Written by Carissa Andrews | Photographed by Jeff Collins 

IT MAY COME AS NO SURPRISE to hear that teaching is a passion for Forestview Middle School teacher, Jim Reed. However, his love of teaching extends far beyond the hours in a school day. In recent years, Jim and his daughter Lauren began learning silversmithing as a way to incorporate the semi-precious gems, stones, and crystals they find from Jim’s mining exploits in the Colorado mountains. Together they offer a variety of different kinds of silver jewelry, and also teach classes on how to make your own.

Jim Reed and his daughter Lauren Reed learned silversmithing as a way to incorporate semi-precious gems, stones, and crystals into silver jewelry.

“I’ve always been interested in science and geology. I’ve always kinda thought it was all very fascinating,” Jim said when asked where his passion for mining and making jewelry all began.

This passion for geology soon transformed into a love for prospecting in the mountains. He started his teaching career in 1991 in Manitou Springs, Colorado. While living in Colorado, he met Ray Berry—a legend in Colorado mining. Ray opened his eyes to the fun and excitement of digging for semi-precious stones, gems, and crystals. Ray invited Jim out to his home one afternoon. To Jim’s amazement, Ray’s house was a museum so extensive that it rivaled the Denver Museum of Natural History—with one small exception: everything had been field-collected by Ray himself. It’s also an accomplishment Jim hopes to one day be able to match with his collection.

In Colorado, Jim also met his long-time friend and now mining partner, Jeff Schimel. He and Jeff formed a small company, JJ Collecting, years ago to mine by hand the areas in Colorado where they have mining claims. Together, they have ten established requests in the Rockies to dig in areas where they believe minerals are abundant.

Recently, he and Jeff have turned their mining endeavors into a business. So, while you might still see references to “JJ Collecting” floating about—their new name is officially “2nd Generation Mining.” The reason for this change was in preparation for obtaining a mining permit in the Colorado Mountains. They are currently working closely with the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety to obtain the necessary licenses required to operate a machine on their mining claims in Colorado.

“The mining permit approval process is a long, drawn-out one, but it’s designed to keep the national forest and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land in the same condition it was before a machine was used to mine,” Jim said.

Jim Reed is a self-taught silversmith and middle school teacher in Brainerd.

2nd Generation Mining is nearing the end of the permit approval process. Once they’re approved, they can start working with the Teller County Board to obtain a Conditional Use Permit—which allows them to begin mining this summer.

After all of the approvals have been granted, 2nd Generation Mining will have one final hurdle before they can place their machine on-site. They’re required to put up bond money that will secure the funding they need to reclaim the land back to its original condition once they’re finished.

So far, they have identified three areas where the mineralization looks promising. They’ve discovered a few nice pockets of smoky quartz, goethite, fluorite, and other Colorado minerals. Going deeper into those structures will be the determining factor as to whether or not the structure gets better with depth. They’re hoping it does because it means fantastic specimens to collect, sell, or use in their jewelry.

Jim’s new studio has a cabochon machine, which transforms raw stones into beautiful centerpieces for jewelry.

“Once we get our permit, then we’ll fall under a lot more regulations. Right now, we dig by hand. We dig for amazonite, smoky quartz, and turn some of the broken pieces into our jewelry. And that’s why I started silversmithing,” he said. “I would have this stuff sitting around that had no display value, but it would have value in being cut into a stone so it could be made into a ring or a pendant, or earrings.”

That’s where the idea to teach himself the art of silversmithing originated from. And, of course, he did it in a way only the 21st century can provide—through countless YouTube videos and plenty of trial and error.

Now, in Jim’s studio, you’ll find a cabochon machine, which can transform any raw stone into one of the beautiful stones you see placed in silver jewelry, as well as all the tools needed to for silversmithing. His house is filled with gorgeous specimens of crystal, rocks, and fossils—all collected on various trips. Perhaps not quite a Ray Berry home museum just yet, but certainly well on its way.

Interested in taking a silversmithing class?

Contact Jim through his JJ Collecting Facebook page to schedule: @jjcollecting or check out his Instagram page for his latest pieces: @jimreedcollecting.