Guidelines for Buying Our Minerals

We want you to love every specimen you buy from us! The last thing we want is for you to open the specimen, get it into its new home lighting and display, and be disappointed. So, think critically when you buy, and here are four things to think about when you buy minerals from us:

1. Size

Everything looks larger than life on a computer monitor. Depending on how you appreciate your minerals at home, this may or may not matter. Lots of us have wonderful smaller specimens in our collections and display cases, and we view them up close, we are able to happily fully appreciate them. (See Size Matters!) But please note the sizes that are included with every specimen description. I personally always keep a ruler by my computer so that when I read about specimens online, I can visualize them accurately.

2. Colour, Lighting and Background 

The mineral photographs on our website are intended to give you an accurate representation and an aesthetic presentation of each mineral (if you haven’t yet read it, please see About Our Photographs). It’s a balancing act, and I do my best.

Open your new mineral specimens in good light! A couple of important things to think about are the lighting in your display case and mineral space, and also the backgrounds you use in those displays or cases, if any. As noted in About Our Photographs, our lighting is intended to approximate natural daylight colour temperature. If your display lighting is not generally consistent with this, or even if you gleefully open the specimen in a dark hallway as soon as you get it inside because you just can’t wait to see it… well, it’s not going to look like it did on our website. Hopefully though, you have lighting that shows minerals in near-daylight colours and you are knowledgable about any differences between your lighting and daylight colour temperature.

On a related note, you should take into account the background colour in the photograph, when looking at our website. Some minerals look their best when they are viewed with a different colour in the background. You’ll see this in mineral displays around the world, and you’ll see it often in the photographs of all of the best mineral photographers.

If I am going to shoot using a coloured background, I personally generally prefer blue hues in this context. In fact, my own display cases have a gentle dark blue-purple as the background colour – it is unobtrusive and compliments specimens of many different minerals. Yes, it would be fair for you to point out that an amethyst or an azurite might “pop" better against  a light neutral colour, and it’s true, but those minerals are spectacular enough that the background is less relevant. Meanwhile, there are so many spectacular black, white and relatively neutral-coloured minerals that display really well against a background like this that it is my personal taste. (Possibly influenced by a lifetime of collecting in the Bancroft Area, where we have amazing mineral specimens, but  colours do not abound…)

3. Quality and Damage 

As I have written about in Seven Keys to Building a Great Mineral Collection, quality is essential. If you buy excellent quality specimens from the beginning, then even as you build your collection and grow as a collector, you will still appreciate the specimens you bought at the start. And if you buy excellent quality specimens all along the way, your collection will be a very fine one.

I do my very best to acquire mineral specimens with no damage or only minimal damage that is not visually distracting. It’s harder than you may think – the vast majority of specimens are damaged in some way, very often badly so. As an aside, I recall a buying trip I made years ago, where we spent two weeks and travelled about 2500km on the ground in Brazil. I don’t know how many specimens I looked at, but we looked at minerals all day every day and the number of specimens I saw was well over 100,000. Some vendors’ displays were like small prop-plane hangars full of quartz on tables – and even at those places I looked at everything I could. I have never looked at so many specimens on any other buying trip – I became a bit bug-eyed. And I was crushed every time I would pick up what appeared from a distance to be a great specimen, only to find that it was damaged, or had an unlabeled repair or alteration. I came back to Canada from that trip with six specimens in total. Only three of those were completely free of visible damage.

I make quality the key criterion on which I acquire specimens for you. Test me fully on this when you look at our specimens. Hopefully you will agree that I do a great job acquiring high quality specimens. If there is any damage, I will note it in the description with the mineral. If I have missed anything in the description of a specimen you order, and you want to return a specimen on the basis of damage I did not describe, I will happily accept the return for a full refund and we will pay for the shipping of the specimen. We want you to be happy when you open the specimen box from us!

4. Helpful Resources on Our Website

We have included lots of resources on our website in hopes that you may find it helpful.

If you would like to learn more about mineral collecting see Collectors. For thoughts about what to  think about when buying mineral specimens, see all of the articles in that section and in particular Seven Keys to Building a Great Mineral CollectionWild West Economics? Mineral Buying and Mineral Pricing, and Size Matters!.

If you aren’t sure about how best to protect and preserve your mineral specimens once you have them, you might like to start learning about that topic by reading Caring for Mineral Specimens (It’s easy, they don’t pester you when they want food, and they don’t typically get up to any capering during the day when you aren’t watching them.)

5. Ordering and Shipping

If you would like any information about this please see Ordering Information.