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The mineral displays shown to the right may be right for a Rock and Mineral show but are they what you want in your living room?

from 2011

Mineral Articles

Storage - Display

page 2 - home displays

Profitable dealers know that a good presentation of their mineral specimens can make all the difference in making a sale or returning home with their product. At the big rock and gem shows, high end dealers will rent black cabinets with fiber optic lighting to show their minerals to their best possible advantage. 

How you show your rocks and minerals communicates their intrinsic value; particular to the non-collector of minerals.  A nice mineral, hauled out of its cardboard box and shown in the poor lighting of a damp basement communicates a lesser value to the specimen than if it is shown under well lighted conditions and protected under glass.  At the same time, some minerals can be geologically interesting but do not justify a lot of effort for exceptional display.

Much of what I talk about below applies to home and public display of minerals.

The challenge, buy/build affordable cabinets

Unfortunately, quality mineral display cabinets do not come cheap. Nice mineral cabinets, with fiber optic lighting, are priced around $4000. Museum quality storage cabinets are equally costly.  If you have the carpentry equipment and the skill you can build your own but glass (particularly tempered) and internal cabinet lighting (if you choose to go that way) can add significant cost to the project. Depending on the quality of material used, the material for a 4 foot wide by 33 inch deep cabinet can be $100 - $300, not including the cost of the base to support the cabinet.

Not all mineral collections (or collectors) can justify the expenses of Mineral cabinets, in which case, we make do. Shallow woods trays with glass covers are relatively inexpensive, they can be made from old window glass and are a good way to protect a collection. (see Storing  Minerals for tips on protecting your collection)

The color of light you use to display your minerals will effect their Appearance.

Have you ever bought a mineral from a dealer and when you got home discovered the color of the specimen was not as rich as you remember it? Light bulbs, whether Incandescent, LED, Halogen, or Florescent have different color rendering. While natural sunlight might be the standard we should use to judge a mineral’s color, most minerals are not displayed, or purchased, outside. This ability to choose the type of light a mineral is shown under means some minerals can be visually enhanced. I have notice aquamarines seeming more blue in the dealer’s case than when out of the case, and I have a green fluorite that just pops under yellow tinted LED light. Prior to investing in display lighting you might want to check out your minerals under a variety of light sources.

Displaying your Minerals in public is different from displaying them at home.

First, you need to consider security and safety. If you plan to use your own case for public display you need to be able to lock or secure it sufficiently from theft. Also, how strong is your glass, is it tempered, is the thickness sufficient to resist several kids pressing against it?

Secondly, the lighting will be different.  Even if your case has its own lighting the lighting in the public facility is going to penetrate your case, slightly changing the color of your specimens. Exterior lighting will also add many reflection points on the glass of your display case, creating glare which will make viewing your specimens more difficult. The interior lights of your case may have been perfect for your home lighting but under the bright lights of the public facility, glare may make your specimens seem washed out and lacking vibrance.

Thirdly, your goals for display may be different. Your home display may have been design primarily as decorative and to fit in with your home decor.  A public display on the other hand, usually has an educational goal. Labeling becomes important in planning layout. Labeling can enhance the presentation of your minerals or, if done poorly, distract from the quality of your collection. Minerals and label need to reinforce your goal for the display.

For any display, home or public, try not to over crowd your cabinet; less really can be more effective. 

Mineral Storage - page 3, Documentation

The mineral displays above were shown at rock shows I have attended.

Rock club event offer members the chance to display their minerals and educate the public about geology

Some rock clubs will engage in display competitions  and rate the effectiveness of a submitted display. Displays are rated on over all appearance, quality of information and various other factors. A mineral label slightly out of alignment can foil your chance to place in one of these competitions.