Visiting Muhlenberg County, Kentucky: The House of Onyx

House of Onyx Brass Plaque

Take a drive down North Main Street in Greenville, Kentucky and you will come across a very non-descript tan brick building with a bronze plaque on the front as well as a brass name across the wall.  All they say is “House of Onyx Inc.” The bronze plaque also includes an inscription with the Established 1967 and the names Fred & Shirley Rowe.   My guide, Misty Deason, the Proprietor of Apple House Mercantile, would tell me nothing about the place, but said we were going there and that I would be very surprised. I am always up for a “mysterious place” and so I was all in.

DFW Elite Toy Museum plaque in Haltom City, Texas

Only once before in my tens of thousands of miles of travel have I visited a non-descript building with a unique plaque on it. As I entered I had no idea what I was getting into at that time either.  I had been requested by Doug Kirby from RoadsideAmerica.com to visit and get a few photos and details about the place.  I was honestly overwhelmed and delighted when I entered.  You can read all about the DFW Elite Toy Museum visit in this blog post from March 2018.

Main sales floor of the House of Onyx

There are walls filled with necklaces and jewelry

I loved the Dragon Rug on the floor.

Visiting with House of Onyx Manager Renee Green

As we entered, the first indication that this would be an interesting stop was the buzzer to let us in.  One can enter the still non-descript lobby, but you have to hit the buzzer to be admitted. When you enter you are met by a gal at a desk with a computer.  You still can’t see what is on the other side of the wall in front of you.  After a moment or two we were met by Renee Green, the Manager of House of Onyx. She led us into the showroom (see above) and I was wowed by what I saw.  The room was filled with all sorts of stone carvings (not just onyx, but also quartz, opal, chrysoprase, fluorite, jasper, tourmaline, lapis lazuli, agate and more), cases filled with every kind of gemstone imaginable as well as gold and silver jewelry, fancy Asian made vases, necklaces, rings and more.  It was an actual treasure-trove of items, some of which are likely valued at $10,000 or more.  I had no inclination to ask about the values on the items, though a catalog that they gave me as I left did indeed fill me in on that.  (You can order your own catalog from their website at https://www.houseofonyx.com/ ).  Following are a few of the gemstone carvings  and vases that I found of interest in the shop.  Having lived in Japan for six years and also visited China, I really had a sense of what these were all about.  But, I couldn’t tell you what precious stones these were carved from.

House of Onyx 1

House of Onyx 2

Happy Buddha

House of Onyx 4

There are valuable items from all over the world, and especially Asia, to be found in the House of Onyx.  As I made my way to the back of the shop, I came across some lovely vases. Beautiful work.

Cloisonne Vases

Tall Cloisonne Vase

A tanzanite and diamond ring in platinum.

The display cases are chock full of lovely and unique jewelry items.  This is not your run of the mill shopping mall jewelry shop.  Let me assure you of that.  Renee showed us a piece that apparently Misty had admired on a previous visit. This ring is made of platinum with a large oval Tanzanite crystal surrounded by a number of diamonds. We were able to convince Renee to let Misty try it on for fun.

I know nothing about tanzanite. So, I looked it up to get an idea about it. This gemstone is apparently only found in one place on earth – in Tanzania near Mount Kilamanjaro in a very small mining area near the Mererani Hills.  It has a purple/blue color with a vitreous luster. For this rare gemstone, the deeper the color, the more valuable it becomes. Needless to say, their rarity makes these gemstones extremely valuable with some stones fetching anywhere from $200 to $700 per carat. I don’t know how many carats this piece was.  But, as you can see below, Misty has a huge stone on her finger!!

Misty Deason models the Tanzanite/Diamond Ring

And here are a few more carvings I took photos of.  I have always been fond of carvings.  I have a few items from Africa and Asia in my house…nothing to valuable, but certainly of sentimental value.

This is a lovely Jasper Lizard

Those that follow me know that I love to photograph statues of Pink Elephants from all over the U.S. There are dozens.  But I have never seen a pink elephant carving. The one below is carved from Rhodonite, a manganese silicate mineral that means compassion and love.

Pink Elephant carved from Rhodonite.

Ganesha Elephant carved from a purple/red Ruby stone. Ganesha is one of Hindu’s most worshipped deities.

A nice horse carved from Verdite, a rock (not a mineral) found in South Africa

This lovely octopus carving is made of Butte Opal, which comes from Oregon in the U.S.

This Buffalo is carved from Rose Quartz.

And this horse is also carved from Rose Quartz

Speaking of Quartz, there was a solitary quartz crystal cluster on display in the shop.  Turns out that across the street from the House of Onyx is yet a another shop called the Crystal Gallery.  It specializes in minerals, fossils, gemstone formations, and more. We didn’t have time to visit, but could see some amazing items through the window. It is certainly not non-descript!

Quartz Crystal Cluster in House of Onyx

The Japanese have always compared me to the Happy Buddha, so I really needed to get a shot with this Lapis Lazuli Buddha

As a young teenager, I was always interested in crystals and minerals.  I have seen many unique items in shops as I travel the country.  But Renee and her staff really have gathered absolutely amazing items!

Most of the residents of Muhlenberg County have rarely traveled out of state, except for maybe a trip to nearby Illinois, Indiana or Tennessee.  But Renee has traveled the world looking for unique items.  She has been to Thailand, China, Japan and many other places.  I would be willing to walk the plank to say that she is probably the most well-traveled resident in the county!

As we prepared to leave, Renee wanted to treat me to one more surprise. She took me to the back room and let me go into the vault.  WOWZA!!  Hundreds of gemstones in boxes, foreign coins, unique items.  All of the gemstones are set on shelves in alphabetical order so that when customers order certain kinds, they are easily found.

I got to go in and look at the vault. Wow!

One of the boxes of unique items I saw in the safe

Bundles of Brazilian Cruzeiro singles

I have to admit, that the visit to House of Onyx was most fascinating.  And to think that this place is not in a major city like Chicago, New York or San Francisco really struck me.  And, many pieces are really museum worthy items.  House of Onyx is out of place in the small town of Greenville in the midst of the sparsely populated county of Muhlenberg.  We never know what is out there in the world of small communities.  I really appreciate Misty’s “little surprise.”  I sincerely hope that those that may read this from around the world, will check out the House of Onyx website )see link above) and join the thousands of other non-Kentucky clients that get their gifts, their gems or unique items from Renee and her staff.

Did you find this post interesting?  I have visited many interesting places across the United States. You can find my Less Beaten Paths books on Amazon.com!  Currently there are four in print (and in Kindle version too!!)  You can see my books on my author page at https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B0784XVGSW

MY NEW BOOK “8154” is NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON (and also on the Apple House Mercantile Website)

One thought on “Visiting Muhlenberg County, Kentucky: The House of Onyx

  1. Renee Bridwell

    Wowza is right! My dad became one of Fred’s customers about the time that he started this business, so I’ve had nice jewelry from there since I was a teen. The showroom is AMAZING!

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