My Etsy Shop

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Things in my Etsy Shop

For a quick look at items in the shop you can look here.  BLOGGERS - you are welcome to use the pictures please give a link to my Etsy shop.  Thanks

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Acquiring minerals continued

Photo is Chalcedony stalactite from Guanajuato, Mexico

Before I discuss making large purchases of collections, warehouses and buyouts (next post) I should mention the tools of the trade.

Here is what you need to carry in your mineral buying daypack.
Good hand lens

Notepad and pen - ok I have tried the PDA or the phone it is just not as good for quick notes as a memo pad and pen. Sometimes there may not be a label or the dealer has information not on the label that you will want to record. Even if there is a label I write it down in case the label is misplaced. I also write down the price paid which is more important for a dealer but may become important in the future for appraisal purposes

I carry a calculator other than your phone. Calculators passed back and forth between you and the dealer are wonderful negotiating tools. Plus not all dealer's first language is English.

Wet wipes Handling rocks can be dusty work.

Water and munchies so you don't have to leave in the middle of a good show.

I carry a bit of newspaper. At smaller shows not all dealers/swappers are equipped to wrap minerals. I don't get bent about that I just come prepared
And we carry boxes in the truck to stash everything for the ride home. If you collect small items you may want to carry tissue and small plastic bags.

And dollars, lots of dollars. Of course at big shows most dealers take credit cards and checks but not as much at smaller shows and swaps.

Remember to wear comfortable shoes

I look forward to meeting you some day at a show

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Brazilian Tourmaline, available in shop

Continuing the discussion about how to acquire minerals.

Purchasing minerals at shows

We sell at Tucson (Arizona - Martin Zinn Expositions) and Denver ( Colorado Mineral & Fossil Show (Fall) - Martin Zinn Expositions) US based international shows.  These are very large multi-location shows.  We take turns sitting the booth freeing one of us to shop.  If you visit these shows plan on days of long hours to have enough time to visit many dealers from around the world.

  You will get better prices if you are willing to buy minerals in lots as opposed to buying one at a time.  Before we were in business John would travel with a small group of like minded mineral collectors and they would purchase the lots together.

Dealers are not inclined to negotiate on price for a single item.  When I purchase a single item from a dealer I generally hope the dealer will give me a "dealer discount" in hopes of future business.  If you haggle over every single item you may wear out your welcome.  So look around a dealer's booth and see if there isn't something else you want.  Nothing aggravates a dealer more than someone who points to a single item and requests a discount, then another, then another.  Group what you want before starting the negotiation.  And remember if you admire the dealer's stock - don't try to put them out of business by wanting a cut throat price.

Smaller shows and swaps (Show Dates | Rock & Gem Magazine)  I just love going to smaller shows and swap meets.  This is where I find most of my classic locality vintage treasures.   It is time consuming and requires travel but if you are a rabid mineral shopper it is worth it.  You may come away from shows with nothing but when you do it can be a real treat.
Be prepared to spend hours searching through boxes.  Ask the dealer if they "have anything under the table to look at"  If they allow you under the table here are the rules:

Gently unstack and restack the flats, don't fling or hold sideways (mineral people call the large boxes with minerals flats from the days when we would put our minerals in beer flats)

Move out of the way for other traffic walking in the booth, don't be an impediment to other customers.

At my booth you are welcome to pull out "maybes" but I usually expect only to have to put away 10% of what you pulled.  It is a lot of work to return the minerals to their flat.  So be nice.

One more thing about swap meets.  Seek out the "old collections" and diggers.  People trying to dispose of Dad's collection want to move the inventory not make a career of it and diggers want to move out the old stock so they can go dig some more.   I have found that many of the people trying to destash or cull their own collection tend to overprice their minerals.  They look on the internet and find the highest price and put that on their item regardless of quality.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Photo:  Naturally yellow hematite included Quartz Crystal Cluster from Santa Eulalia, Mexico (available in the shop)
Uvarovite Garnet - will be available in the shop soon.

Where do mineral dealers find all of their minerals?

When we started our business we offered our field collected inventory.  These are the minerals we went into the quarry or mine and dug out.  Sometimes people refer to these as "self collected".  You, too, can field collect.  For the new collector it might be beneficial to join a gem and mineral club with an active field collecting group.
You can find a club in the US here:  Club Sites
Canadians can find a club here:  CCFMS Central Canadian Federation of Mineralogical Societies ...

There are also fee collecting areas you can visit.  For a fee, some modest, some exhorbidant, you are allowed to collect minerals.  These include the areas that allow you to pan for either gems or gold.  Please be sure to ask if the panning material is salted or not.  Most mines when quizzed will tell you if you will be panning authentic local material or if it has been salted with material from a foreign source. (foreign in the sense it is not mined at the panning location).  Some famous locations that have fee collecting areas are:  Maine for Tourmaline, North Carolina for Rubies, Montana for Sapphires and Colorado and California for gold.  Just google "mineral fee collecting areas"

Some mines have open houses where for one or two weekends of the year they allow field collecting.  These are a bit harder to stay informed about but there are some yahoo groups that may be useful to join to keep informed of open houses in your region.

Field trips associated with minerals shows and rock swaps.  Many clubs, see links above, host field trips during the weekend of their annual Rock and Mineral show.  You can check Rock N Gem's show calendar for listings:
Show Dates | Rock & Gem Magazine

Because of our business connections we are often invited onto private claims.  This is not as readily available to the general public because of liability issues and protection of the claim.

Next blog:  where we purchase our minerals.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Photo:  Dioptase from Tsumeb, Namibia

The locale a mineral is collected from can command a price premium, knowing this will help you understand mineral pricing.

Certain localities are famous for their sheer wealth, diversity and superior quality of minerals.  Classic examples are Bisbee, Arizona, Tsumeb, Namibia and Mapimi, Mexico.  All three of the locations produced gorgeous specimens.  There were enough specimens to create a marketing momentum and enough diversity to keep it interesting.  All three locations are also known for some absolutely stunning rare minerals.  A collector could spend a lifetime collecting just one of the locations and have a diverse, beautiful and deep collection.

Some localities command a premium from the number of collectors in the marketplace who prize that locality.  US localities seem to command a premium not only because of the high cost of production but also because there is keen competition among US collectors seeking the local specimens.  It can be an economic indicator.  Recently better Chinese minerals enjoyed an escalation in price as Chinese wealth grew.

Certain localities are defunct and/or antique.  Just as in any collectible minerals do carry a premium for provenance and/or antique value.

Listing of Classic Mineral Localities: Classic Mineral Localities

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

July's Birthstone is Ruby.  The two rubies below are from the shop.  The first is ruby in marble matrix from Pakistan and the second is a ruby crystal from Madagascar  Ruby is a variety of corundum, the other gem variety of corundum is sapphire.

For more info on Ruby mineral data: Corundum: The mineral Corundum, Sapphire, Ruby info & pictures

The most frequent question I get when customers purchase ruby and sapphire is "can I have this cut for jewelry?"  When you examine a gemstone sample note its clarity and color - no amount of cutting and polishing is going to improve the color or clarity.  The best are facet grade rubies and generally these will not be offered as mineral samples because of the greater demand from the jewelry market. When a mineral is demanded in more then one market the forces of competition escalate the price.  The Madagascar ruby below is jewelry grade - rubies of this quality and from this deposit are polished into beads and cabochons.  The Pakistani one is also pretty good but the rubies from Pakistan tend to get murkier (occluded) the larger they get. In today's market Ruby mineral specimens are readily available from Pakistan, India, Madagascar, Afghanistan and Vietnam. They are occasionally available from Burma (Myanmar) though because of the excellent quality they are quite expensive.

Many gemstones are oiled or heat treated.  This is a generally accepted practice in the jewelry market but is unacceptable in the mineral market.  It can be difficult to determine if a mineral specimen has been tampered with.  Ask the dealer.  Dealers sometimes do get snookered but a good mineral dealer keeps up with current literature and gossip to be aware of malfeasance.  In either case, mineral or jewelry, any "enhancements" should be disclosed.

A good article on color in rubies:

Ruby - About Colored Gemstones

World Famous Rubies:  The Delong Star Ruby
The Midnight Star Ruby
The Mogok Ruby
The Rosser Reeves Star Ruby