Rare Earth Mining Co.’s Bill Heher Dies at 72

SourcingAug 05, 2022

Rare Earth Mining Co.’s Bill Heher Dies at 72

The passionate gem lover helped bring more than 300 different varieties of stones to the gem trade.

Bill Heher, who founded Rare Earth Mining Company, died Aug. 1. He is pictured here outside the Aricanga Mine in Brazil, where he extracted the tourmaline-in-quartz specimen.
Trumbull, Conn.—William “Bill” Heher, founder of Rare Earth Mining Company and passionate gemstone lover, died Aug. 1 at the age of 72.

Though he started his career as a teacher, Heher eventually went into the world of gems and fossils, bringing interesting and unique pieces to the world through his company.

Heher had a “zest for the unexplored, rarely seen,” according to an online obituary. He started traveling in his 20s, venturing to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro—which led to his introduction to gemstones—and visiting cities like Hong Kong; Idar-Oberstein, Germany; São Paolo, Brazil; and New Delhi, India.

Everywhere he went, he immersed himself in the culture and made lifelong friends, seamlessly combining business and pleasure throughout his career, his family said.

Heher opened Rare Earth Mining Co. in 1968; the company works with more than 300 materials and is always a popular booth during the Tucson gem shows.

Heher had an incredible passion for what he did.

An excerpt from a 2021 profile in AGTA’s Prism reads: “His love for his material was something I had never seen before. A few times, my father literally cried at the booth when a customer bought out his ‘My Best’ collection. It contained ‘The Volcano,’ ‘The Eye of the Leopard,’ and a few Munsteiner pieces he wanted to travel with and show to the world. To see them not with him anymore was a very emotional experience for him.”

He also opened and operated the Rare Earth Gallery in Redding, Connecticut, where he constructed a mine where kids could hunt for treasures and have birthday parties.
He was a supporter of experiential education, traveling to mine locations around the world to learn firsthand about gemstones, and loved that his sons share his passions for teaching, adventure, and stones. His son Will is a teacher, and his other son Curtis has taken the reign at Rare Earth. 

Heher served on the board of the American Gem Trade Association, which he called one of his “crowning achievements,” according to the Prism profile.

He was known as a master storyteller with an infectious smile and a passion for life.

“Devoted to his family, the family gemstone business, to education and adventure, and to AGTA, Bill’s loss will be felt deeply,” AGTA said in its ePrism newsletter this week. “Our thoughts are with the Heher family.”

Billi was preceded in death by his brother, John H. Heher; mother, Marion Hoadley Heher; and father, John Sylvester Heher.

He is survived by his wife, Cynthia Lynn Manson Heher; son William Wallace Heher and his wife Julie Shattuck Heher; son Curtis Andrew Heher and his wife Kerry Jane Heher; and many grandchildren.

A celebration of his life will be held on Sunday, Aug. 7 from 4-8 p.m. at the Starkweather House at the Nichols Improvement Association, 1773 Huntington Tpke., Trumbull, Connecticut.

His family said to come dressed comfortably to laugh, tell stories, and to celebrate the husband, father, and friend that he was.

In lieu of flowers, the family asked that contributions be made to one of Heher’s passions—the Nichols Improvement Association or Trumbull Little League

Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

The Latest

IndependentsDec 07, 2022
How Daniel’s Jewelers Has Lasted 70+ Holiday Seasons

In a Q&A, CEO David Sherwood shares some company history, the secret to success during the busiest time of year, and more.

TrendsDec 07, 2022
Amanda’s Style File: December Blues

Jewelers of America’s Amanda Gizzi spotlights her favorite turquoise, tanzanite, and zircon December birthstone jewelry.

IndependentsDec 07, 2022
The Radiance Lands at Marissa Collections

The retailer is now selling the 13 diamond jewelry capsule collections created by BIPOC designers on its website.

Brought to you by
How To Buy Colored Gemstones

Give your customers the full gemstone buying experience by using the 6C's.

AuctionsDec 07, 2022
Christie’s Magnificent Jewels Auction Totals Nearly $59M in New York

After a 13-carat pink diamond was pulled ahead of the sale, blue and colorless diamonds reigned supreme.

Weekly QuizDec 01, 2022
This Week’s Quiz
Test your knowledge of the latest jewelry news with this quick test.
Take the Quiz
FinancialsDec 06, 2022
Signet Anticipates Solid Holiday Season, Raises Guidance

The jewelry giant posted a decline in same-store sales in the third quarter but is gearing up for a season of growth.

TrendsDec 06, 2022
Pantone’s 2023 Color of the Year Is A Lot Like Rubellite, Spinel, Ruby

“Viva Magenta” easily finds its colored gemstone counterparts.

Brought to you by
Knowledge and Skills for Today’s Hot Topics

From laboratory-grown diamonds to design to country-of-origin, GIA's Alumni Collective™ has a seminar to suite your needs.

AuctionsDec 06, 2022
Jewels from the Sunken ‘Ship of Gold’ Smash Auction Estimates

Holabird Western Americana Collections offered hundreds of treasures recovered from the S.S. Central America in its Dec. 3 sale.

ColumnistsDec 06, 2022
The Smart Lab: 6 Holiday Email Marketing Strategies To Boost Sales

From creating catchy subject lines to retargeting abandoned carts, Emmanuel Raheb has a half-dozen pieces of email marketing advice.

IndependentsDec 06, 2022
CD Peacock Names VP of Client Engagement, Experience

Qi Holtzman is a member of the second generation to run the family-owned Chicago area jeweler.

IndependentsDec 05, 2022
Holocaust Survivor and Jeffrey Mann Jewelers Matriarch Rena Mann Dies

Mann, who opened the Ohio jewelry store with her husband and son in 1984, was 95.

TechnologyDec 05, 2022
Timex Ticks into the Metaverse with Bored Ape Yacht Club

The watch brand will create 500 custom timepieces for holders of Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs.

EditorsDec 05, 2022
Meet Jewelry’s First TikTok Star

When it comes to translating luxury into the social media platform’s approachable style, JewelsWithJules has cracked the code.

Events & AwardsDec 05, 2022
WJA Foundation Awards Nearly $60K in Scholarships for 2022-2023

Scholarship winners received awards in six different categories.

AuctionsDec 02, 2022
Here’s How 2 Royal Jewels Performed at Auction in Denmark

A princess’s tiara fell within its pre-sale estimate while an Art Deco bracelet from a queen doubled it.

CollectionsDec 02, 2022
Piece of the Week: Foundrae’s Chain

A closer look at the bold links reveals a subtle, surprising detail.

Supplier BulletinDec 01, 2022
Take Your Jewelry Design Process Digital with the GIA Alumni Collective™

Sponsored by GIA Alumni Collective™

WatchesDec 01, 2022
Rolex to Certify Pre-Owned Watches

Retailers within its official distribution network will be able to sell the authenticated timepieces.

CollectionsDec 01, 2022
Kendra Scott’s New Collection is for Barbie Girls

The capsule collection combines the brand’s classic styles with Barbie’s signature pink color.

AuctionsDec 01, 2022
13-Carat Pink Diamond Withdrawn From Christie’s Auction

The auction house is not offering any details on why the fancy vivid pink stone was pulled from its upcoming “Magnificent Jewels” sale.

SourcingDec 01, 2022
Nomad’s Is Selling Its Stones to Raise Money for Ukraine Again

In the spirit of an advent calendar, “Gems to Help Ukraine” will sell a stone a day through Dec. 24 on the Nomad’s Instagram account.

GradingDec 01, 2022
PhotoScribe Granted Patent for Method that Verifies a Stone’s Identification

The secure mark combines an overt mark with a covert data set to provide assurance on a gem.

SurveysNov 30, 2022
5 Things Retailers Should Know About the Start to the Holiday Season

Plus, what a potential rail strike would mean for retailers.

WatchesNov 30, 2022
Watchfinder & Co. Will Launch a Marketplace Next Year

It will provide a place for select luxury watch retailers to sell their stock.

MajorsNov 30, 2022
Pomellato Buys Into Italian Goldsmith

The brand has purchased a minority stake in Costanzo & Rizzetto.

SourcingNov 30, 2022
Firestone Restarts Operations of Lesotho Diamond Mine

Liqhobong has been in a care-and-maintenance period since the start of the pandemic.


This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy