Family history

The Becker family is in it's 5th generation in the wholesale-business with rough- and semiprecious stones, art objects made out of agate and amethyste, as well as mineral specimens. The company is seated in Idar-Oberstein, Rheinland-Pfalz and has the name H. Rudolf Becker. Since 1860 the familiy is importing and exporting these products. The business activities started in the 19th century in the course of an emigration wave to Brasil. The local stone carving and lapidary industry did not have enough of the rough material left that used to come out of their own pits like the "Steinkaulenberg". Therefor people had to leave for Southamerica on sailing ships and try a new beginning overseas. In the south of Brasil in the state of Rio Grande do Sul the settlers found agates and amethysts, which they brought to Idar-Oberstein and helped the local industry to start business again.

Among these settlers was my great-great-grandfather Philipp Becker and his son, my great-grandfather Philipp Rudolf Becker, who then continued with trading. In Idar-Oberstein they know my ancestors under the name of Stein-Becker's, which means "Stone-Becker's", implifying the family tradition, and moreover we call us happy to have the inventor of the "Spießbraten" amongst us, as it is told that in 1861 Karl Becker, my great-great-granduncle, prepared this first brasilian style barbecue in Dellen (what used to be a public place in town).

The company bears the name of my grandfather, Helmut Rudolf Becker, who from the 40's until the 70's found the pretty and dark coloured amethyst in the location of Artigas/Uruguay. He also imported agates and carried out the usual auctions for the rough agate. After a shipload of agate had reached Idar-Oberstein via Hamburg or Bremen it meant to take samples of each lot of agate. These samples were called Schliewer (signifying small pieces), and were hammered off the agate-almonds in pieces of 5cm of length and 2cm width. As there used to be 2 metric tons of material per shipment one can imaging "the work that has been done", or as they say in the local tongue: "do wäs ma waat ma geschafft hat"! These samples were put into different kinds of acid and then burned in a special oven, to test the usefulness for colouring of the agate and to find out about the shape and thickness of their chalcedony veining, because the more colour and chalcedony layers the higher the price.

Those times are gone - nowadays even the traditional lapidary industry is coming to an end, because foreign competition produces much cheaper. On the other hand the quality of local production at Idar-Oberstein is still higher and those who specialize, for example in the carving of animals, still get good prices for their objects of art. The precious stones cutting industry has already moved to India, Thailand or african countries, also the production of series takes place elsewhere. What is left, is Idar-Oberstein as an education center with its technical college for jewellery design, a trading center with its diamond and precious stones exchange and the internationally well-known exhibition Intergem. Idar-Oberstein is and will be the meeting point of those who participate in the business!

That is exactly the point of view of my parents, Peter and Mechtild "Matilda" Becker, who in the 70's expanded the company activities by including minerals and in doing so created some sensation. They estimate the value of a stone not only by its suitability for further processing, but also on the decorative and estethical appearance and fine looking of each specimen. The trading with rough stones for the lapidary industry like agate, amethyste etc. was first extended by offering quartz crystals and thereafter presenting the minerals; lots of material, which before that usually had been dumped right at the mines and in the best case had been sought for by rock hounds and mineral collectors. This also created a consciousness at the mine owners and layed the basis for todays trading and business. Those who feel the excitement for a nicely crystallized fluorite or a wonderful quartz crystal with long and clear points, cannot imagine these pieces either being put into a melting furnace to serve as steelhardener or being grinded down and become a part of a wristwatch as a piezzo-quarz!

Meanwhile my brother Andreas, his son Anderson, and his daughter Patricia joined the company and are taking care of the business - and it has been that my grandmother Ilse felt the excitement of handling beautiful minerals for a long time, until she left us in 2007 at the age of 100 - with all respect, madame! Of course - that is my humble opinion too.

For those interested dealers, who want information right away, this is the address:

H. Rudolf Becker
Hauptstrasse 116
55743 Idar-Oberstein
Tel.: 06781-43822
Fax: 06781-46538
url: www.hrb-mineralien.de

Please note
Dealers only, no sightseeing or what so ever!

For more information on Idar-Oberstein follow this link, or check right here on

I do business in lower bavaria, because I enjoy living here and can combine business trips with holidays to South Africa, Namibia, Brasil and the USA! So far so good - that's all on my family background ...

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