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Quartz covered in azurite and malachite.  An amazingly showy specimen lacking damage. I would rate this specimen as a high end specimen with investment potental. The price on the piece was way, way, way below $35,000 at the time I took this photo (Tucson, 2019).

World Class - I see this advertised but never seen it defined.  I think of these specimens as exhibiting exceptional quality and presents, such that any major mineral collector would be tempted to acquire them -  specimens a major museum would want to obtain. I do not believe price defines a World Class mineral specimen but World Class specimens do command higher prices.

Investor Grade - While there are a number of factors that make a mineral an investor grade piece it is mostly about perfection and aesthetics; rarity of course also plays a roll.

Collector Grade - Usually, a visually pleasing mineral and a good example of the mineral species/type/form. While the specimen may contain fractures, repairs, etc. the overall quality of the piece makes up for them.

Display Grade - any mineral that looks pleasing in a display case. 

Specimen Grade - lacking display value these minerals are primarily of interest as an example of a mineral species or type. These are acquired as study pieces. Some really rare minerals may only be found in specimen grade, and as such, some might consider these investor grade minerals as well.

A collector with a focus on mineral varieties, as apposed to ascetics, might view many specimen grade minerals  as collector grade minerals.

In many ways the above grades are very artificial in that one might acquire an investment piece for display and it may also fill a species vacancy in ones mineral collection. The above grades really reflect how a dealer might classify a mineral to target it to a specific mineral buying group.

Defining High End  -  In the articles on buying minerals I used the term “high end” to describe a category of minerals.  “High end” is a mushy term to describe a mineral. Everyone has their own view as to what constitutes a high end specimen. Some people call anything out of their price range as high end.  Others might look at a low priced but exceptional quality mineral as being in the high end of specimens.  A few dealers of highend material consider any thing with a price tag of $35,000 or more, highend. I usually use the term “highend” to decribe exceptional quality specimens; regardless of price or value.

Next - Displaying your minerals to make them look good.

Below I try to define how a mineral fits in to a particular acquisition category. These are my created definitions based on my experience, others might see it differently. I will likely continue to refine the definitions over time.

updated in 2018

Mineral Collecting


What are the various grade of minerals?

green apophyllite crystals
sapphires in matrix

The green apophyllite crystals above separated by brown colored inclusions make this specimen rather showy. I would say it fits in to all the listed grades to the left with the exception of "world class".  The larger specimens that came out of this apophyllite vug might meet the "world class" definition. As I recall this specimen is around 7' in length.

The sapphires above can be use as display pieces and as a specimen type example. In terms of a category I would say they fit in to collector grade.