The Friendly Federation

Founded to Serve

Southeast Federation
of Mineralogical Societies, Inc.

William Holland Retreat
Young Harris, GA

The William Holland School of Lapidary Arts is situated on a mountain in north Georgia near the North Carolina border. It is a Rockhound's Dream come true. Here, near Young Harris College, is a special school that is like no other in the United States. The serious Rockhound can learn how to turn rough gems into family keepsakes. With dedication and determination, an inspired group of hobbyists is making it possible for many others to enjoy the fruits of their knowledge. 

The lapidary arts include all the skills that are required to make custom jewelry. At the William Holland School of Lapidary Arts, classes are taught by volunteer instructors in such procedures as faceting, silversmithing, the making of cabochons, wire crafting, wax modeling and casting, bead knotting and design, and opal cutting. Some weeks also include chain making, stained glass, basket making, and copper tooling. Gem and mineral identification classes are also offered. Students learn to use all the special tools and shop safety is stressed. Each student carries home the fruits of his or her efforts as well as fond memories of new acquaintances. 

The facilities include a main building (lodge) of two stories whose upper ground floor is like a motel with 29 bedrooms, each with a private bath and two beds, one double and one twin. Two bedrooms are equipped for the handicapped. The lower ground level contains 13 classrooms, the kitchen, and dining room. Each bedroom has a ceiling fan and air-conditioning was added during the 1997 season. A separate building, the Seabolt Building, houses the George Kasper Memorial Library. This building also has facilities for a campground with 10 spaces with full hookups.  On September 1, 2001, we opened Mary Lou's Cottage.  This building will be used by the instructors.  There are 8 bedrooms, a kitchen and common area. 

The school is named for a deceased past president of the Southeast Federation of Mineralogical Societies. The creation of the William Holland School of Lapidary Arts was built thorough the personal philanthropy of Harold Sparks, another SFMS past president, and his wife Mary Lou. Much of the construction work was a volunteer effort of many members of the Southeast Federation. Furnishings and workshop equipment were donated by various clubs and societies in the Southeast Federation of Mineralogical Societies. Harold has passed away but his family still operate the school for the benefit of rockhounds throughout the United States. 

The school is operated from April through October with certain weeks being set aside for special workshops sponsored by and for members of the Southeast Federation. All rockhounds are eligible to participate during the remainder of the season. Classes are of one week duration, and the courses vary during the time the school is in operation. A student takes one class for the week. 

The workshop week begins on Sunday with check-in after 3:00 p.m.; dinner is at 6:00 p.m. Classes start at 9:00 a.m. on Monday. Tuesday night is generally scheduled for an auction with items donated by students and instructors. Proceeds go into classroom equipment and supplies.

For more information write to:
William Holland School of Lapidary Arts
P.O. Box 980
Young Harris, GA 30582
William Holland School Internet site:

[ William Holland School has OPEN (to everyone) classes during  non-federation weeks - April through October.  Call or email the school for more information. ]
Copyright 1996
All photographs by
Fred R. Sias Jr

One of the unique facets of the Southeast Federation of Mineralogical Societies is the Workshop Program, which offers members the opportunity to gather for week-long, hands-on seminars taught by experienced instructors. Whether you are a newcomer to the lapidary arts and want to learn the basics, or whether you’re an old hand who wants to learn something new or move on to the next level, the Workshop Program has something for you.  We look forward to seeing you in class.  

CLASS SCHEDULES: -  LOCATIONS: Wildacres and William Holland -  Registration Information and Forms

The SFMS Workshop classes are open to all SFMS members, all AMFED Federation members and anyone from the general public that is willing to join a gem club - either a local one to them or one we provide to them.

The Southeast Federation of Mineralogical Societies, Inc. sponsors four Gem, Jewelry and Mineral workshops each year. These are held at Wildacres, near Little Switzerland in North Carolina, and at the William Holland Retreat near the small town of Young Harris in northeast Georgia. Both facilities offer double accommodations with a private bath. Twin bed rooms and a number of rooms with a double bed and a twin bed arrangement are available. 

A broad range of courses related to the lapidary arts are taught by qualified instructors from throughout the Federation.  All instructors are volunteers who are not paid for the highly skilled and professional experience that they bring to the workshops. 

The workshops are well equipped for common lapidary activities such as cabochon cutting, faceting, and silversmithing. Additional equipment is brought in when new or special courses are taught.

Rosemary van Wandelen
3051 Keyport St.
Deltona, FL 32738
(386) 860-5586
Linda Matvy
8532 Ball Camp Like
Knoxville, TN 37931
Kristine Robertson
6720 Bobby Jones CT
Palmetto, Fl 34221
Heidi Wetzel
1105 Victor Hill Road
Greer, SC 29651
(864) 328-5868
NOTE:  Check-in at Wildacres is MONDAY afternoon.  Check it at William Holland is SUNDAY afternoon.  Early check-in is not permitted at either location.

Education Chairman

Danny Griffin
1320 Byrd Cir.
Kingston, TN 37763
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