Tualatin Valley’s hidden treasures are—quite actually—filled with gems. You may assume that a gem fair is only suited for the most serious of rock hounds. I’m here to tell you that simply isn’t true. Discover the literal gems of Oregon.
Hillsboro Gem Faire
The Hillsboro Gem Faire (January 26-28) is less about a collection of rocks and more about a collection of people. There are people pouring over quartz and agate to use as home décor. You’ll see three or four girls huddled together, picking out the perfect beads for their next jewelry-making projects. Mothers and daughters ooh and ah at the glistening cases of gemstone jewelry.
At last year’s Hillsboro Gem Faire, I watched a dealer dutifully answer questions about a crystal’s energy to spiritually-minded customers. In short, the Hillsboro Gem Faire—and the beads, jewelry, gemstones and crystals found there—are for everyone.
Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals
While the Hillsboro Gem Faire comes to Tualatin Valley a couple times a year, the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals shares its bejeweled collection year-round. The 1953 Hillsboro home, which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, was owned by some serious rock collectors. The family parlayed their private collection into what is now a Smithsonian-affiliate museum. So fancy, right? The home’s bedrooms and living quarters are cleared of their previous domesticities, making room for a 4,000-item collection of rocks, crystals, gems and fossils.
The museum’s basement is especially alluring with a large petrified wood gallery. Follow the bends of the basement to one of my favorite details of the museum, the “friendship fireplace.” Helen Rice invited her friends to choose Mexican agates from her collection. Each pick was embedded into the fireplace structure. The finished product is a stunningly unique home feature with a touching story to back it up.
Where to Eat and sleep in Hillsboro
A short drive from both the Hillsboro Gem Faire and the Rice Museum is ABV Public House. You’ll go from one collection (gems!) to another of sorts (beer!). Over 700 beer and cider options line the perimeter of the restaurant. Whether you want an old favorite or something surprising, the right bottle is waiting.
While a local craft beer is always a safe bet, this is the place to seek sought-after beers from around the world. I once spotted the rare Dark Island Reserve brew from Scotland’s Orkney Brewery. This is the place to try exceptional, limited beer releases.
After a visit to a gem fair or the Rice Museum, you can tuck yourself—and your new rock collection—in at the nearby Embassy Suites Hillsboro.
Admit it, you now kind of want to be a rock hound.