Tucson Rock and Mineral Showcase - page 2
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bead sellers at the Tucson Rock and Mineral Showcase

Tucson Rock and Minearal Show - Page 2
by Jerrold VanNocker

Tired but still mentally exhilarated I know my first day at the Mineral Showcase is almost over.  I pass a number of tables containing muscovite crystals; muscovite is a fancy name for mica. It is a very common mineral, due to its ability to handle heat it is used in toasters; that gray colored sheet the heating elements are wrapped around.  While the mineral is interesting, it is not what I would generally consider an artistically pleasing mineral.

Never the less, I step inside the dealer’s hotel room to examine his best specimens. Cleared of its furnishings but for a couple of chairs and a table the hotel room has been converted into a presentation room for large chunks of mica. I glance around, nothing here really interests me.  A very large piece of mica catches my eye. It has a pleasing form, the mica undulates along the piece and the white base rock is exposed along one edge. A couple of large blue, aquamarine crystals are perched within the mica. 

Aquamarine crystal in a matric od mica

Fossils of all sizes can be found at the Tucson Rock and Mineral Show

I decide I should take a closer look.  There are six large aquamarine crystals in all on the piece; none of them are perfect. The best crystal is complete but there is a fracture through it. I ask for the price; the cost is double what I want to pay. I had not come here to buy aquamarine; it is time to search some more.

One of the ways I judge the value of a mineral is to walk away from it.  If 20 or 30 minutes later the mineral is no longer in the forefront of my mind, I figure I really did not want the piece that much. Thirty minutes after looking at the muscovite with aquamarine it was still on my mind. It was time to negotiate.

I know, buying the muscovite was in a sense settling, when I started out this morning I had no plans to buy aquamarine on mica. Still, I liked the piece… so I bought it. I negotiated the price down to almost half; I have no idea if I got a steal, an exceptional buy or if the dealer found a "sucker". The dealer was happy, I was happy. And, I know in my heart if someone told me tomorrow I overpaid I would not care.  There is only one piece of Muscovite with Aquamarine like it in the entire world; it gives me a lot of joy. In the end, the value of a thing is determined by what the seller will sell it for and by what the buyer is willing to pay. At this moment, my unique piece of Muscovite with Aquamarine would cost a buyer a lot!

Jerrold's personal learning about Rocks and Minerals website (will open in a new window)

I am obviously not an expert in minerals or their values, but I can share with you my perspective on value and buying minerals. 

Some of the factors that influence Mineral Values

1. Aesthetics – it is all about being pretty. Beauty; it is subjective but yet over and over different people will pick one item consistently over another as more attractive. It is about the interplay of shape, texture and color. 

2. Form – crystal forms of a mineral are considered more valuable than non-crystal forms of minerals. I find crystal forms in their matrix more pleasing than crystals not in a matrix.

3. Crystal Size – All things being equal, the larger the crystal the more valuable it is.

4. Specimen Size  - Large cabinet size minerals are generally more valuable than their smaller counterparts; but a large mineral may be no more valuable than its value as a collection of smaller specimens.   For it to demand a premium, a large size mineral must exhibit a special aesthetic quality separate from its largeness.

5. Rarity – Rarity factors include mining location, the mineral’s innate rarity (i.e. gold is rarer than quartz), its unique association with other minerals, unusual form, and other factors I am not that well versed on.

6. Perfection – The more perfect the mineral the more valuable it is. When it comes to the crystal form, chips, fractures and cloudiness will decrease a mineral’s value. Crystals that stand straight up on their matrix, have high clarity, purity of color, and have terminated ends free of defect, command the top prices.

Read this before you go!
The Scientific Valuation of Minerals
Rock and Gem show dates
Tucson Show Offical info
Beware of Fakes
Show FAQ for bead buyers
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Tom is a professional writer that allowed me to use this previously publish story here.

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