Aspen trees are a quintessential part of Colorado. We Coloradoans take pride in the abundance of aspen groves that populate the state, especially in the summer and fall when their beauty is in full force.
As winter approaches, we’ll say goodbye to the trees brimming with colorful leaves for the time being. However, The General Store gift shop at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park offers a way to hold onto the beauty of the aspen leaf…permanently.
Rocky Mountain Leaf Company, based out of Littleton, Colorado, offers one-of-a kind, gorgeous jewelry and ornaments made from real, hand-collected aspen leaves.
The business was started in Aspen in 1974. Liz Meyer has owned it for the past five years. She started out on the sales team, but ended up purchasing the company from the original owner. It’s always been something of a family endeavor–her youngest daughter used to help out producing the artwork. Now her oldest daughter and husband are part of the team, along with two other employees.
“We go out every summer and fall and collect leaves. We usually collect about 100,000 a year,” says Meyer. “We are very careful not to hurt the trees!” The company has some property off of Route 285 where they collect the majority of the leaves. Who gets the task of leaf-collecting? “Whoever I can get to do it!” laughs Meyer. “It can definitely be dirty, and buggy!”
The leaves, individually chosen for shape and size, are then brought back and placed in phone books to flatten and dry out. They are then re-sorted to weed out any misshapen, undersized, or bug-bitten leaves.
Only the best of the best make it to the next step, an acid bath, which washes away everything but the veiny structure of the leaf. The veins get coated in copper and are then electroplated with 24k gold, fine silver (a softer, more pure form than sterling silver) or iridescent copper. The pieces created by this method are “lace” styles, because the intricate patterns of the veins resemble lace. Some leaves are left out of the acid bath, creating the “solid” style pieces–whole leaves plated in metal.
The last step is to create the actual jewelry and ornaments–attaching chains for necklaces, loops for ornaments, and so on. Rocky Mountain Leaf Company offers a wide variety of products–necklaces, earrings, magnets, charms, and more. You can view the pieces at the company’s website.
“Every one really is individual and unique,” Meyer says. Of the roughly 100,000 leaves collected, the company will sell nearly all of them. The ornaments are probably the most popular offering , says Meyer, and the 24k gold pieces are the most sought after plating. “People associate the gold with the golden color of the aspen leaves.”
“It’s a great item for visitors; they can bring home a little piece of Colorado with them,” Meyer points out. The jewelry and ornaments make great gifts for visitors and locals alike!
Visit The General Store at Glenwood Caverns to see for yourself the unique creations of the Rocky Mountain Leaf Company! For hours and more information, visit park info.