Ed Halleran grew up as one of five children in a large family on the south shore of Long Island, New York. His Irish father was one of 10, as was his Italian mother. He can vividly recall digging for clams on the beaches just south of the village of Babylon.
“Those are really some of the most beautiful beaches in the world,” Halleran says. “I think living there really got me started on exploring this beautiful country.”
Halleran’s life thus far has most certainly been well lived and he has the stories to back it. He is a father and military veteran, has groomed thoroughbred racehorses, owned and operated a New York pizza joint [in California], driven a big rig, ran a small motel, dealt blackjack and mined for Herkimer diamonds.
“I don’t want people to confuse my many jobs with inconsistency,” Halleran says. “If I saw an opportunity or something that interested me, I would go for it and worked hard at it, always.”
After leaving his Laguna Beach, California, pizza restaurant in 1981, Halleran groomed thoroughbred horses in Maryland for a few years and then in 1983, ran a small motel in Herkimer, New York. It was at this time he was first introduced to Herkimer diamonds or double-terminated quartz crystals [crystals with natural facets on both ends]. At the time, he was in his 30s and completely blown-away by a photograph.
“It was truly incredible what I saw, and I knew I had to see one in person,” Halleran says. “So, I went to the Herkimer mine that was run by a local family and I started mining for the very first time in field No. 2.”
Using a 3-pound crack hammer, often referred to as sledgehammers, Halleran says he started swinging into the rock to see what he could find. This started a lifelong love for mining, geology and the infamous Herkimer diamond.
When Halleran was not running the motel, he was down in the mine pulling out hunks of crystal. Oftentimes, the quartz was accompanied by mud, dirt and other debris to sift through.
“There is nothing quite like it. The entire experience is incredible,” Halleran says. “When you’re in there digging, sweating, focusing on pulling out these huge hunks of crystal from tough places, there’s nothing like that feeling where you feel you’ve just made a brand-new discovery on this Earth.”
Halleran says he has always enjoyed learning about geology and the various landscapes across our country. He has visited 48 of the 50 states and comments on how beautiful and unique each state’s surroundings are.
The Herkimer mine in the Mohawk Valley of New York state is in an ancient seabed that is estimated to be about 500 million years old. The double-terminated crystal quartz is rare and only found in a handful of places around the world.
“Being a rockhound was a lot of fun,” Halleran says. “I made some great friends in the mine: Diamond Jim [a schoolteacher], Big George [an engineer], Boston Jimmy [a geologist]. We would create different techniques and tools for digging through these vugs or pockets.”
During the next decade Halleran would amass a huge collection of Herkimer diamonds in hundreds of 5-gallon buckets. He stored them away in a basement in the East Village of New York City for another 18 years before he was able to begin processing through the buckets in 2011.
Halleran recalls watching his favorite shows on the television while screening the crystals in order to polish and clean them. He used a dental pick to be extra detailed and careful.
“It’s like a puzzle to put them all back together,” Halleran says. “I had to separate the diamonds from the dust and mud, and I would find beautiful druzy pieces [rocks with a coating of fine, sugar like crystals].
The clusters that Halleran collected are rare because of the way the crystal is formed: there is little to no contact with the host rock. The entire cleaning and polishing stage took Halleran about three years to complete, but when he did, the huge collection was aptly named Stardust.
“I laid everything out on a 12-foot by 16-foot table and it looked like stardust,” Halleran says. “I believe we are all stardust, everything we see is stardust. The Mohawk people held these crystals in high esteem and believed they had healing properties. You can feel it, they amplify it.”
When Halleran sold his Mohawk Valley home in 2021 and moved to Port St. Lucie, he brought the 19 bankers’ boxes that were full of his Stardust collection. Since the move, he has been slowly unboxing some of the pieces.
“I am working with a local artist and friend who is making jewelry out of some of the Herkimer diamonds,” Halleran says. “I’ve also got some pieces on display at LuLuRocks in Jensen Beach, so I am slowly trying to introduce the collection to the world.”
Besides working through his quartz collection, Halleran has authored a booklet titled How To Breathe, plays the drums and keeps active playing games like horseshoes and being outdoors.
Ultimately, Halleran is hoping to find a large enough space to display Stardust once again and take a trip to Japan in 2023 to spread the healing properties his collection boasts.
Visit HerkimerRockstar.com to learn more about Halleran’s collection.
Lives In: Port St. Lucie
Family: Son, James, 50, from Long Island, N.Y.
Occupation: Retired, but never retired — always doing something.
Education: Associate of arts degree in business
Hobbies: Mining the Herkimer mine, studying geology, playing drums, horseshoes
Someone who inspires me: Jesus Christ
One thing most people don’t know about me: “That I loved my father. Everyone knew I loved my mother but there were questions about that and I really, truly loved my father.”