Rockey Ollewagen

My interest in crystals started about fifteen years ago. I was just a regular IT guy, working in the corporate environment, not having any idea what the crystal world was all about.

Then my wife, Paula, arrived home one day with a quartz crystal which cost R70 at the time. I couldn’t believe that she was ‘wasting’ our money on paying so much money for a rock. Little did I know what the future held.

 I supported Paula’s interest in crystals, and when she joined the Club, I started attending the monthly open days at the club myself. I cannot remember when the rock-bug really bit me, but it happened very suddenly. I suspect it really started at the Vredendal mine after digging out my first crystals. 

 As Paula started giving crystal talks at our home in Table-View, people started asking her why she didn’t sell any crystals from home. This sparked an idea that maybe we should buy R500 worth of polished quartz, and sell them at these talks.The demand for our crystals grew steadily and then I started buying crystals wherever I could and whenever the budget allowed me to.

My first major purchases really started when I met the late Donald Riekerts, who regularly came down to Cape Town with a truck full of KMF minerals, and various other crystals and minerals from the Northern Cape.  

Many years later I worked in the Middle-East for two years (Kuwait). Interest in crystals and minerals there was almost non-existent. Nevertheless, I managed to buy some nice Afghanistan rubies on matrix, various tourmalines, a batch of big polished lapis-lazuli’s, a big faceted smoky-quartz, and a massive piece of turquoise. These now reside in my private collection.

A trip to New-Zealand also proved to be quite interesting. We attended a crystal-show in Greymouth, South-Island where we saw this huge 1,5 m ruby-zoisite on the left and also went to the Rotorua geothermal spa, where an abundance of sulphur crystals could be found.

The sulphur crystals (right) are actually from Saudi Arabia, but were donated to a museum in New-Zealand.

After returning to South Africa from Kuwait, we re-joined the club, expanded our crystal collection and also opened up crystal shops in Bellville and Stellenbosch. Logistically, this was a bit difficult to manage while still having a normal nine to five day-job, so now with all our crystals back at home in Blouberg, we might have more time for doing field-trips again.

Some other special items in my collection are two huge Jan-Coetzee crystals. With the 85 cm one on the left and the 78 cm one on the right, they collectively weigh over 150 kg (cat’s weight excluded).

We now mainly focus on purchasing wholesale quantities of top Madagascan crystals and rocks, and supplying them to other traders, crystal shops, and to the public. But like any rock-hound, if a good crystal or crystal collection comes my way, I will always find it difficult not to give it a second thought.