Rock County Rocks & Gems might bedazzle customers with quartz and jasper, but many believe its owner, Spring Steidl, is the real jewel of the business.
Steidl, who is battling stage 4 bone cancer, not only creates one-of-a-kind pieces for customers but also lends a listening ear to all who seek solace in her calming store at 312 State St. She often helps with area fundraisers and buys treats for strangers.
“She amazes everyone she comes in contact with by her strength, kind words and love,” her daughter Jen Schuler said. “She helps so many people. They don’t even have to tell their problem; she sees it on their face.”
Teala Lamoreux, co-owner of Northwoods Premium next door, agreed Steidl is the gem of the block. Steidl not only visits neighboring businesses to check on employees but often quietly buys strangers candy at Northwoods and “scurries off.” Many consider Steidl’s presence to be a bit miraculous in how she is able to cheer up others.
“She does for others. She’s kind, giving and caring. She’s happy and wants to spread her joy,” Lamoreux said.
Steidl, an artist who is trained in metaphysics and has a fondness for crystals and minerals, has a long history of spending time in nature. She grew up on Paddock Road and loved to root through rocks as a child.
When she was in her 30s, she fell deeper in love with rocks after visiting Arkansas and discovering quartz mines. Over the years, she would travel to other mines and digs around the country as she relished time in the outdoors.
“I listened to eagles, hawks and the wind. It was like listening to poetry. It was so beautiful,” she said.
Steidl would come home and tumble some of her rocks, make rock gardens out of others and plan her next tour to take with the family in an old Econoline cargo van. Her daughter fondly recalled more than one potential rock avalanche looming and heavily loaded vehicles over the years.
Steidl opened a small business six years ago on the second floor at the former home of Emanuel, The Florist, and then relocated to a second-floor location on State Street. Five years ago, she got her own standalone location at 213 State St. Suite B with the entrance located in the back parking lot. The store has been home to many supportive chats and even an engagement. Some customers come in looking for the perfect jewelry with a stone that has meaning to them. Others want to view nature and learn about the healing properties of the rocks and gems.
With a master’s degree in metaphysics, Steidl said she was always drawn to the mysterious side of life—perhaps part of her attraction to rocks and gems and their many hidden properties.
For example, she explained such rocks as lemon quartz might leave one feeling joyful. Others, like shungite, can offer protection, healing and detoxification, she said. Although some might be skeptical, Steidl said many rocks and gems have been used commercially for their properties. Quartz, for example, is used in cellphones, TV receivers, and watches and clocks. A wide variety of ore mineral components are used in cellphones.
Many rocks, Steidl said, are born out of volcanic activity and contain many properties and, perhaps, energies.
With rainbow moonstone to ocean jasper on her shelves, there is all sorts of evidence of the miracles and beauty within nature at Steidl’s store.
“Gold stone has copper in it and acts as a conduit as quartz does,” she said. “Moss agate is a good one. It has its own story inside.”
Over the years Steidl has found her own solace in her rocks. As an artist she had a racing mind and found some rocks would provide a more peaceful slumber. With cancer, she said shungite has helped with pain management, though Steidl is struggling.
The empathetic and perceptive Steidl said customers will come in and tend to gravitate toward a certain stone, which she said gives her a little insight into what they might be feeling. Steidl will study her customers, get them talking and find out what has happened in their lives.
“Whatever stone you are attracted to is the stone you will be working with,” Steidl said.
Since the pandemic, Steidl said more people are struggling with depression and anxiety and that many have lost loved ones. Despite her own health challenges and physical pain, Steidl carries on focusing her attention on her love of rocks and gems and helping and listening to the needs of others. She has no plans to stop or retire from her love and life’s work.
“I’m not a geologist or gemologist; I just love rocks,” Steidl said.
When asked for some basic rocks to consider for a starter collection, Steidl said rose or clear quartz is always a good basis for learning to love oneself and others.
Steidl’s daughter and helper in the store, Schuler, has her own health struggles with aggressive rheumatoid arthritis. Watching her mom working, sometimes in pain, is an inspiration to her.
“Do you want to go out lying down or with a flare?” Schuler asked. “A lot of people would lay down in their bed and cry and she keeps going, and she’s my hero.”
Schuler, who is the former president of Yellow Brick Road, a Beloit nonprofit working to create more awareness and sense of community for the LGBTQA+ community, said her mom often pitched in with fundraisers over the year and encouraged her to serve on the board. Schuler stepped aside to help her mother carry on her business during her health challenges.
Lamoreux said she, too, has been inspired by Steidl, learning about rocks and seeing her interact and teach people the mysteries within the gems.
“Nature works in crazy ways, and it’s beautiful,” Lamoreux said.
Hours at Rock County Rocks & Gems are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.