Meet Your Merchant: Mimi’s Crystal Rainbow Rock Shop |

Meet Your Merchant: Mimi’s Crystal Rainbow Rock Shop

Mimi’s Crystal Rainbow Rock Shop is located on Commercial Street in Nevada City. Above, owner Mimi Musgrave is seen siting on the front porch.
Cory Fisher/ |


Mimi’s Crystal Rainbow Rock Shop

310 Commercial St., Nevada City


Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m., six days a week. Closed Wednesdays.

When Mimi Musgrave first took her son to the Nevada City business she was considering buying, he took one look around and said, “Mom, this is you.” He was right.

Musgrave was ready for a change. She had spent more than 20 years selling her jewelry at art and wine festivals far and wide. Between driving hundreds of miles, setting up booths, and bringing her children along anytime they were out of school, she was exhausted.

“It felt like the circus life,” said Musgrave. “I loved working among artists and longtime friends — I felt at home. But it was really hard work and my body just wore out.”

That’s why, when a small rock shop on Commercial Street was put on the market roughly eight years ago, Musgrave saw it as an opportunity to continue to sell her jewelry and immerse herself into another of her lifelong passions: rocks.

“I’ve been interested in minerals my whole life,” she said. “Even as a little girl growing up in Los Angeles, I loved to spend my time in a rock shop.”

In addition to the business itself, Musgrave bought the existing inventory in the small store, and slowly began building her collection. Today, Mimi’s Crystal Rainbow Rock Shop is known for its rare, extremely hard-to-find gems and minerals from all over the world.

Examples include brown dravite tourmaline from Australia, the rare, purple Sugilite from South Africa, quartz from Madagascar and China and the coveted Himalayan pink quartz from the mountains of Northern India. A few prized pieces also include Australian Zebra Rock, which Musgrave says is petrified algae believed to be 680 million years old.

Each year, Musgrave travels to large gem and mineral shows, where she can buy from dealers from all over the globe. Her favorite is a three-week show in Tucson, Arizona — purportedly the largest in the world — boasting thousands of vendors in venues scattered across the city. And with an estimated 50,000 known minerals in the world, there is a lot to see.

“You can get blown away and overwhelmed at these large shows,” she said. “I have to be very focused. It’s the hardest work I do all year.”

Musgrave said she lets these stones and minerals call to her, and she buys the ones she’s drawn to — a practice that has served her well over the years.

Customers often do the same, she said. Many come through the doors of the small shop in search stones with specific energy.

For example, if someone wants to feel more grounded and level-headed, Musgrave recommends the darker colors, such as black tourmaline. For meditation and tranquility, it’s the lighter colored, transparent stones.

Not a fan of large scale mining – such as what is being done for gold and silver — Musgrave says that mineral mining has a minimal impact on the planet, that it is “just scraping away at the surface, speeding up the inevitable erosion process.”

In fact, she hopes that having an appreciation for rocks and minerals will encourage people to take better care of the earth.

She makes an effort to buy from small miners, such as an Australian family who spends two months a year out in the bush and has set up trading relationships with nearby Aboriginal tribes.

“What sets me apart is that I have stuff nobody has or will have,” she said. “Because of my large inventory I can hold on to something for 10 years, then one day someone will come in and buy it. Sometimes there’s a process of letting go — rocks sometimes feel like friends, or my babies.”

Thanks to help from her daughter, son and daughter-in-law, Musgrave hopes her store will be open for many years to come. She sees herself as a conduit. Her purpose, she says, is to spread beauty and bring gifts to people, hoping her stones’ energy will be of help. Right now, one of her biggest missions is teaching her grandchildren, ages 6 and 3, about rocks.

“Grammy’s house is full of rocks,” she said, with a laugh. “It would be hard to choose just one rock because I love every one of them. It would be like asking, ‘Which child you love the most?’”

To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher email her at

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