by Rebecca Potts
In the heart of Fresno’s Historic Tower District is a charming jewelry store with an intriguing name: Dragon’s Treasure. Celebrating 40 years of business and 30 years in the same location, right across from the Tower Theatre, this magical store has a lot to be proud of.
The owner of Dragon’s Treasure, Robert Spickard, grew up in Fresno and attended Bullard High School, where his talent for making jewelry was discovered. Spickard had an art instructor, Charles Lum, who offered his own equipment to students who were interested in the arts, from photography to jewelry making, and he introduced Bob to what would become his life’s work.
When he was able to acquire his own jewelry-making equipment, Spickard found ways to make money from his craft. “I had made a little silver owl, and [someone] said, ‘gee, I like that, Bob, you want to sell it?’” Spickard recalls. From there, his hobby turned into a business. “I put myself through college making jewelry, selling at craft shows, and mowing lawns.”
You can find designs of all kinds in Dragon’s Treasure, and two-thirds of it is made by Spickard himself. Spickard uses silver and bronze to create his pieces, and occasionally gold when it is requested for custom orders. From Vikings to Steampunk to Nordic style, there is something for everyone. There are vine-wrapped staffs, antique Japanese dragons, bats, cauldrons, Celtic Knots, belt buckles, and anything else you can dream of. Spickard has one piece in particular with an interesting back story: his Steampunk cleaver, an idea that came from his 14-year-old daughter because of a friend’s custom order. He ended up making several of them because he liked the design, and it has become a very popular piece.
His inspiration comes from many places, but working for a local antique dealer in college has influenced a lot of his design. Spickard also has a degree in History, and he brings many elements of the past into his jewelry, starting with how he makes it. He uses what is called the Lost Wax Casting method to create each piece, a nearly 6,000–year-old technique in which a wax mold is used to make each piece of jewelry. His favorite metal to work with is silver, but the bronze jewelry is special because it’s historical – and it lasts a very long time. “There’s [pieces] in this store [they’re] going to be digging up a thousand years from now and wondering where it came from,” Spickard explains.
Not only is the jewelry at Dragon’s Treasure intricate, durable, and unique, it’s also far-traveling. Spickard has sold his jewelry all over the world, and recently shipped a piece to the Greek island of Crete. “It’s always fascinating to see where the [jewelry] goes,” Spickard says. He has seen his work worn by many different people, and once sold a piece of his jewelry to Whoopi Goldberg at a metaphysical shop in Los Angeles. “I dined out on that story!” Spickard joked.
While Dragon’s Treasure has its own walk-in location, it can be found at many different events in California. It’s been spotted at science fiction conventions, Renaissance faires, and Spickard just returned from a semi-professional costumer’s show in Los Angeles. But his favorite event comes every year in February, and in San Jose at the Doubletree Hotel: PantheaCon. It is the largest indoor metaphysical convention in the country and draws over 3,000 people a year. The Dealer’s Room, where the Dragon’s Treasure booth is located, is free and open to the public, so no ticket is required to shop Spickard’s pieces!
Although Spickard has made a living off of his talent for making jewelry, it’s not all that you can find at Dragon’s Treasure. Spickard and his wife, Lisa, who co-owns the business, like to support local artists and sell other pieces in their store, as well. Right now, you can find jewelry bags, prints, cards, loose stones, and much more at Dragon’s Treasure. The inventory is constantly changing, but Spickard says flexibility is required. “In today’s retail market, the music is constantly changing, so you have to learn new dances.” Even so, there are a few things that customers love no matter what the current trend. “Cats are always popular!” Spickard jokes.
To see more of Robert Spickard’s unique creations, visit Dragon’s Treasure in person at 816 E. Olive Ave, Fresno, CA 93728, or online at www.dragonstreasure.etsy.com. Be sure to follow him on Facebook to stay up to date on the ever-changing inventory and upcoming events.
Dragon’s Treasure is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached by phone during those hours at (559) 266-9295.