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Buying Investment Grade Minerals (a few thoughts):

From what I can ascertain (as of 2018) high end mineral vendors consider minerals starting at  $35,000, and above, as high-end mineral specimens.

Any mineral that can grow in value could be considered an investment. But, what does it really take to have a mineral to be classified as  Investment grade?

One element is perfection - absolutely no damage, no repairs, no glued or modifications.

Another element is the art - does it look good, does it display well; from all sides are just one?

What makes it rare? - is it the mineral, is it the crystal form or crystal size? Also, are their a number of minerals present, in crystal form, on the specimen?

...around the city, hotel rooms turned into selling rooms, with plenty of tents and plazas filled with booths, all the expo and trade halls filled, culminating with the Society’s Show (known as the main show) on the last weekend.  We are talking about a whole lot of rock, minerals, gems and jewelry. Even having three weeks to explore the shows it is hard, if not imposable. to see all the material available.

Sticker Shock - Over the years, after the Tucson show, I have often seen a thread on the, on-line rock and mineral boards, about the high price of minerals.  Stories are told of someone buying a $30,000 specimen and then asking what mineral it is, or seeing a specimen priced for 10x the price it had just been a few years earlier. This year I got my own sticker shock seeing a specimen similar to one I saw at a local show 3 years ago going for about 30x its 3 years ago price. So, whats going on, how can you have such price inflation so quickly? I cover some of the pressure on pricing earlier in Buying Minerals - Price, Value but are these factors enough to explain such price movements?

A new way to buy minerals - Piecing together a few overheard conversations from dealers. I suspect the era of the “specimen” mineral investor group has arrived. I do no know if we are talking about a group of mineral friends pooling their money to buy choice specimens, which they could never own individually, or people that know nothing about minerals, other than the price inflation they have seen in specimens. I worry we are looking at pure investors, buying in to an investment fund, using an expert to acquirer the top mineral specimens available on the market.  I can only wonder what happens to the minerals once they are acquired, hopefully we will get to see them on display, or will they be locked in a vault for safe keeping? If I have surmised correctly, likely it is this investment mentality that is driving prices fast and furiously upward. How much higher choice minerals can go is anyones guess. But, once the price of a mineral is determine by investor mentality rather than its collector value I do not see it as a good thing for the hobby. With all respect, I believe Mineral investors are really missing the point of the hobby.

What should the rest of us do?

The good news is there are still a lot of minerals in the market place and some of them or not priced too bad.  And, the hobby is not dependent on buying expensive minerals. Some of us in the hobby like to look at the super nice minerals but the underpinning of the hobby still remains literally at our feet. Armed with a loop, and curiosity, anyone can enjoy the geological world. With a $150 binocular microscope, your self collected, micro mineral specimens will give you a view that far exceed the quality of anything in the investors mineral vault. Also,  as evidence by the pics on this page (assuming you already own a camera) you can still acquire a nice photo collection of minerals for virtually nothing. 

While self collecting your own super nice mineral specimen is not favored by the odds, the joys of self collecting are tremendous.  Not only do you get some healthy exercise but you get to collect the specimen in the context of the geology it resides.  Pegmatites, limestone cracks, basaltic vugs, they provide us with a bigger understanding of how that specimen we take home was created.

The hobby has always been as much about camaraderie and education as much as. or more than, specimen acquisition.  I guess you can get this being part of an investment group too. I just wonder how much mineral education will occur in the investment group compared to the analyzing of the future potential returns of their mineral holdings.

Buy minerals for yourself - If you see a specimen for sale that you like, have the funds to acquire it, and feel the price fits, buy it; that is what I do.  While I would like to make money off my mineral specimens, it is unlikely. Market forces and associated cost in acquiring and selling the minerals makes it difficult to make money in minerals. As any hobby, mineral collecting is a cost for the participant.  Unlike some very expensive hobbies, there is a possibility of recouping some of the cost.

Next - How mineral specimens are graded; buyer guide.

Mineral Collecting - are minerals in your budget


and Keeping it Cheap?

In mid January to mid February of 2015 I, and a few other KGMS friends, spent some time in Tucson for the city’s annual gathering of Rockhounds. For those of you that have never visited this almost two and a half week event it is a little hard to explain. Just try to vision, several locations...

updated in 2016