THE FINEST NATURAL DÉCOR

by JEANNE DE LATHOUDER

MICAH GILBERT was raised to have an appreciation for the earth.
His mother, Empress Gilbert, has had a deep-rooted passion for nature ever since she was introduced to minerals back in 1982. Soon after, she started collecting different minerals to share with friends and family, which developed into a small, home-based business. Micah Gilbert grew up surrounded by natural specimens, and in 2010, he and his mother made the decision to start a company and purchase a building in the Dallas Design District.

It was renovated to become Empressive Earth Gallery to showcase their specimens and create diverse, customized mounts and bases for their pieces.

“The presentation of our specimens involves exotic woods, exquisite leathers, high-end acrylics and polished metals, including steel, brass and bronze,” says Micah Gilbert. “In 2019 I became president and owner of the company and have continued to refine our craft and acquire new, extraordinary specimens. Our goal is to provide an unparalleled collection of exceptional specimens, stunning accessories and innovative furniture pieces. Every mineral, coral and fossil is acquired from the world’s finest sources.”

Empressive Earth Gallery is renowned for its high-quality minerals, including a variety of gem-quality crystals, large geodes and clusters. It also has an outstanding selection of ethically collected corals and aquatic specimens. In the past few years, Empressive Earth Gallery has expanded its collection of fossils, which has now become an especially important focus of the business.

“It has been an incredible experience to have been able to procure spectacular fossil specimens from all over the world—from countries including Germany, Morocco, Russia, Italy and the United States,” says Gilbert. “Our fossils range in age from over 500 million years old from the Cambrian Period to as recent as 20,000 years old from the Pleistocene Epoch, or Ice Age. At any given time, we carry a variety of fossilized aquatic creatures, including ammonites, trilobites, crinoids and other unusual specimens.”

One of Gilbert’s favorite fossils is a phenomenal Allosaurus skull he recently sold. It was discovered in Colorado and is approximately 150 million years old.

“Larger carnivorous dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex didn’t appear until later during the Cretaceous Period, so Allosaurus was actually the apex predator of the Jurassic Period,” he says. “This skull is exceptionally well-preserved, with minimal restoration and excellent bone quality, which is extremely rare.”

The gallery has also sold certain fossils even before they were fully unearthed, which was the case for a 6-foot Triceratops skull that was discovered in Montana last year. When Gilbert was notified about this specimen from the rancher who discovered it on his land, he promptly reached out to a few of his top clients, and one of them immediately purchased the piece.

“We currently have preparators working on meticulously removing the rock matrix that the skull fragments are embedded in—a process that can take thousands of hours,” he says. “We also recently sold a 9-foot woolly mammoth tusk on a custom bronze stand, a particularly stunning display that complemented the warm coloration of the tusk. Additionally, we have a giant woolly mammoth skull with 9-foot tusks arriving next month from Siberia that will make for an outstanding statement piece in our showroom. The tusks on this skull exhibit unusual green and blue patterns that are a result of mineralization from vivianite in the permafrost. Nature is truly remarkable!”

Gilbert’s educational background encompasses many facets of geoscience. He is a geologist/paleontologist, gemologist, mining engineer and professional appraiser of minerals, corals and fossils. He received his bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in mining and geological engineering from the University of Arizona. This has provided him with extensive knowledge in the identification and authentication of minerals, fossils and other natural specimens, as well as environmentally friendly excavation methodologies.

“A Graduate Gemologist is the highest level of attainment in the field of gemology, which is the credential I earned from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA),” says Gilbert. “This has furthered my ability to classify and evaluate quality characteristics of the minerals I procure, which are almost all designated as types of gemstones.”

Gilbert is also a Registered Master Valuer and accredited member of
the International Society of Appraisers (ISA), the largest professional personal-property appraisal organization. As the only member of the ISA that specializes in minerals, corals and fossils, museums and universities often request to consult with him to get an assessment of their collections.

“Our clients span the globe and are from all walks of life,” says Gilbert. “We cater to homeowners, designers, corporations, hotels, individuals in the oil and gas industry, and many other types of clientele. As the owner of the company, I spend quite a lot of time traveling to many different countries, making new connections with miners, divers and suppliers to acquire new specimens. I am constantly on the hunt for exclusive and newly discovered specimens that make for beautiful décor.”

For more information, visit empressive.com or contact 214.343.0000.