Monthly Archives: January 2011

EMERALD NEWS FROM COLUMBIA

Recent emerald sales have set new record prices for fine emeralds, for both cut stones and specimens. The old record for a fine cut emerald $40,000 per carat. In late 2010, Muzo International, Inc. sold a 9 carat emerald cut stone for almost $90,000 per carat – more than doubling the previous best price.

Recognition of the Rarity of Fine Emeralds

This 9.27 carat emerald sold in 2010 for over $800,000.

This record-setting sale demonstrates a new recognition of the rarity and value of a very fine emerald with a spectacular combination of color and transparency. It also reveals a new class of buyers. Big money has discovered the undervalued and collectible attraction of fine gems, mainly because the stock market and real estate no longer offer the returns they once did. Fine world class mineral specimens have also become attractions for the wealthy collector. New money and money displaced from traditional investments is coming into the gem and mineral world, affecting prices from top to bottom, ushering in a new era of stratospheric emerald prices.

Mineral Specimens Have Also Broken Barriers

The fabulous “Yamile” emerald specimen has sold three times in the last ten years. In 1984 it was sold by the mine owner for $80,000. The collector who bought it held it until 2007, and sold it for over $250,000 (that’s a tidy little profit of $170,000). This collector sold it again in 2010 for $500,000, doubling his money in 3 years.

These 2 photos of the Yamile emerald were taken 26 years apart. The photo on the left was taken in 1984, the one on the right in 2010.

Top Ten Questions About Mineral Collecting – #10

Every mineral collector has questions, from the beginner to the most experienced.  By searching for answers, our knowledge increases, and our interest expands.  Here is a list of the ten most commonly asked questions about mineral collecting – with some helpful answers.

  1. What is a mineral?
  2. Why do people collect mineral specimens?
  3. How do I find mineral specimens?
  4. What minerals should I collect?
  5. Where can I learn more about minerals?
  6. How can I identify the minerals that I’ve found?
  7. Is this hobby expensive?
  8. What is my specimen worth?
  9. How should I display my specimens?
  10. How should I organize my collection?

Today we’re tackling question #10.  You can read the blog entries addressing previous questions by following the links above.

10.  How should I organize my collection?

Every mineral collector knows they should do this, but many just never get around to it.  Even if you can remember what a specimen is and where it came from now, will you still be able to remember in a few decades?  And what will happen to your collection when you die if it isn’t organized?  Doing this doesn’t have to be complicated:

  • Catalog each specimen.
  • Mark it with a number that corresponds to your record of what it is, where it came from, where it is stored, and the date found (there are lots of software programs available online for organizing your collection).
  • Make a written label to go with each specimen as well.

Tip: start doing this early on when you’re just starting your collection.  If you wait until you have several thousand specimens, you’ll probably never do it!

Top Ten Questions About Mineral Collecting – #9

Every mineral collector has questions, from the beginner to the most experienced.  By searching for answers, our knowledge increases, and our interest expands.  Here is a list of the ten most commonly asked questions about mineral collecting – with some helpful answers.

  1. What is a mineral?
  2. Why do people collect mineral specimens?
  3. How do I find mineral specimens?
  4. What minerals should I collect?
  5. Where can I learn more about minerals?
  6. How can I identify the minerals that I’ve found?
  7. Is this hobby expensive?
  8. What is my specimen worth?
  9. How should I display my specimens?
  10. How should I organize my collection?

Today we’re tackling question #9.  You can read the blog entries addressing previous questions by following the links above.

9. How should I display my specimens?

Minerals collectors collect because they love crystals and minerals.  They especially appreciate their dazzling beauty, their awe-inspiring aesthetics, and their astonishing origins as natural creations that have been dug right out of the earth.  So of course we want to display and share them with family and friends who visit our homes.  But be prepared!  You’ll almost certainly hear this question: “What do you do with them?”  (If you’re at a loss for words, you can always say, “We take them out on Friday nights and play with them.”).

Every collector must come up with their own solution for displaying and storing their minerals. Whether it’s an old glass-top display case from a store, glass-front shelving from IKEA, or a custom built-in display cabinet, each individual’s creativity and budget will determine the answer to the display question.  Here are some common display case solutions:

  • Vertical Display with glass shelves – Top-lit curio and display cabinets with glass shelves help with lighting because the light travels farther. If the case is very tall, and the shelves are full of minerals, you’ll want to add additional lights.  For $60, IKEA sells a nifty display cabinet with 4 glass sides, 3 glass shelves, and an overhead light (model: detolf). Shipping is exorbitant, so stop by a store to pick up one or more of these.

  • Barrister bookcases with wood shelves

  • Small shallow glass display cases

  • Glass front display cases with glass shelves


Look for cases with a mirror in the back to reflect light (or add one to an existing case).  This will double the amount of light in your display and helps make the minerals look alive.

Storing Your Collection
Most collectors are short on space to display their collection, which means they will want to put some specimens into storage.  Avoid spots that are moist, extremely hot or cold, or have harsh lighting.  There are 2 basic ways to store the part of your collection which is not on display:

  • Drawers:  Flat files cabinets (steel or wood), blueprint files, and cabinets with multiple drawers make great storage solutions.
  • Boxes:  Folding cardboard specimen boxes are excellent for storage, and are available in a range of depths.


Some helpful tips:

  • Lighting your collection is a very large topic, which I will address in a separate article.
  • Empty egg cartons are handy for storing very small minerals.
  • Label each box or tray so you can easily tell what each container holds.
  • Check stored minerals regularly. Watch out for minerals may deteriorate over time (such as chalcopyrite) or which absorb moisture (such as halite).
  • Avoid using cotton protect stored minerals – it can snag and stick to them.
  • Separate specimens so they won’t damage their neighbors.  Folding cardboard boxes are inexpensive and work great for this.

Stay tuned for the final installment, when we’ll address question #10!

Top Ten Questions About Mineral Collecting – #8

Every mineral collector has questions, from the beginner to the most experienced.  By searching for answers, our knowledge increases, and our interest expands.  Here is a list of the ten most commonly asked questions about mineral collecting – with some helpful answers.

  1. What is a mineral?
  2. Why do people collect mineral specimens?
  3. How do I find mineral specimens?
  4. What minerals should I collect?
  5. Where can I learn more about minerals?
  6. How can I identify the minerals that I’ve found?
  7. Is this hobby expensive?
  8. What is my specimen worth?
  9. How should I display my specimens?
  10. How should I organize my collection?

Today we’re tackling question #8.  You can read the blog entries addressing previous questions by following the links above.

8. How much is my specimen worth?

Price vs. Value
The price for a mineral specimen is easy to determine: if you’re at a show, the price is usually marked on a tag with the specimen.  If you’re looking at a dealer’s online offerings, the price will be clearly stated.  But what’s the specimen’s value, i.e., what is the specimen worth?  If the value is more than the marked price, then it’s a bargain.  If it’s the same, then that’s fair.  And no one wants to pay more than what a specimen is worth.

How Do I Find Out What It’s Worth
Determining the value of a mineral specimen can be a fun challenge.  You can do research on the internet, looking for comparable specimens in auction results, dealers’ listings, etc.  Try looking up the mineral and locality using a search engine.  Add a dollar sign ($) to search for pricing info.  Another way to research prices is to go to a mineral show to look at specimens and prices, and be sure to take notes.  Talk to dealers to ask their opinion.  Find out if there are any new developments which may affect a specimen’s value, such as a recent mine closing or a new source for better quality material.

Buy from a Reputable Dealer
Once you find a dealer who gives great customeer service and consistently offers quality mineral specimens at sensible prices, keep checking their inventory for new additions, or ask them if they have a particular mineral you are searching for.  There are some really high-end dealers who have great specimens, but offer them at prices that are 5 or 10 times higher than what other dealers ask.  Some dealers offer discounts for multiple purchases or give special customers a break on prices for large purchases.

In the end, you’ll find that the more you learn, the better your odds of buying at the “right” price.

Stay tuned for the next installment, when we’ll address question #9!

Top Ten Questions About Mineral Collecting – #7

Every mineral collector has questions, from the beginner to the most experienced.  By searching for answers, our knowledge increases, and our interest expands.  Here is a list of the ten most commonly asked questions about mineral collecting – with some helpful answers.

  1. What is a mineral?
  2. Why do people collect mineral specimens?
  3. How do I find mineral specimens?
  4. What minerals should I collect?
  5. Where can I learn more about minerals?
  6. How can I identify the minerals that I’ve found?
  7. Is this hobby expensive?
  8. What is my specimen worth?
  9. How should I display my specimens?
  10. How should I organize my collection?

Today we’re tackling question #7.  You can read the blog entries addressing previous questions by following the links above.

7. Is this hobby expensive?

Mineral collecting can be extremely expensive, or “dirt” cheap.  In the 1990’s, the oil tycoon Lamar Hunt spent about $8 million amassing a collection of world’s-best-specimens, which he later donated to the Houston Museum of Science.  Alternatively, for the price of gas and a brown bag lunch, you can take a knapsack and a few tools and visit a local collecting area where you’ll find crystals or fossils that will be a delight for years to come.  Either extreme, or anywhere in between – the choice is yours.

Stay tuned for the next installment, when we’ll address question #8!