The William Holland School of Lapidary Arts was founded in 1983 by Harold and Mary Lou Sparks as a non-profit organization devoted to providing quality Lapidary, Earth Science, and Jewelry Making classes to the widest range of students possible. At the time, Harold was serving as the president of the Southeast Federation of Mineralogical Societies. In this capacity, they discovered that, despite the multitude of resources for those wishing to learn Lapidary and Jewelry Making skills and the workshops member clubs offered a few times a year, there were no comprehensive schools to teach and preserve this priceless knowledge. Spurred into action, Harold and Mary Lou set out to find a place to build, not just a school, but a place where strangers from all states and even other countries could come together to learn in a peaceful, beautiful atmosphere and share with one another.
Together, they found just the place in the small town of Young Harris, GA. Before long, Harold and Mary Lou began to make their vision a reality. They called upon many rock and gem club members to donate their time, talents and funding with Harold using his charismatic manner to pull in an ever growing number of supporters and volunteers. Even those who just stopped by to check the progress would often find themselves pitching in. "Have you ever installed insulation?" Harold called to one lady and the next thing she knew, she was stuffing pink rolls into the walls of what was to be the center of our campus. Another couple volunteered for one day, but wound up spending a whole week, calling their daughter each night to say it would be another day before they would be home. Soon, the many volunteers became one big family as they worked together each day and shared their dinner each night. Before long, the classes, which had already started in the Spark's basement, were moved into the newly completed Spark's Lodge.
When it came time to choose a name for the new school, Harold chose William Holland in honor of the third president of the SFMS, cementing an ongoing commitment of our organization to not only teach and preserve the arts of Lapidary and Jewelry Making, but to serve the rock and gem clubs and lapidary community that played such a large role in making our existence a reality. To this day, we support the SFMS by offering them one week during which they can make exclusive use of the School's facilities to offer their own workshops. However, it isn't necessary to belong to a rock and gem club in order to enjoy William Holland.
William Holland School of Lapidary Arts is a hobbyist school devoted to preserving the Lapidary Arts and serving the Lapidary community. As such, our annual season runs from the third week in April and extends thirty weeks until the first week of November. All of the classes offered at our school, apart from the SFMS reserved weeks, are open to anyone wishing to take part. Founded on the principles of service and volunteerism, all of our instructors continue to donate their time, completely free of charge, to help us fulfill our mission. Most instructors sell the supplies needed by students in their classes for a nominal fee in order to cover the cost of the materials and tools they provide in their classes. We can never thank each and every one of these wonderful individuals enough for traveling here from all over the world to give of themselves and continue to fulfill Harold and Mary Lou's vision of cooperation and excellence.