How to determine the value of your mineral specimen

Determining the value of a mineral specimen is not just a matter of size, type or colour. Of course, these features can largely influence the value of certain mineral specimens, but there is a lot more to it. 

Perhaps you have found a piece of orange Calcite while cleaning up your aunties house? Or you wish to know what the value is of the aquamarine crystal you found years ago on a holiday trip. Discovering the value of a mineral specimen firstly requires patience and knowledge because there are many aspects to consider. Yet there is no “one size fits all” in terms of assessing the value of a mineral.

You might assume a large specimen is, by definition, more valuable than a small one but if a tiny micro-mineral is rarer it could be worth significantly more. And while two specimens may look exactly the same, one could be more valuable than the other; merely because it was collected a century ago rather than last week. It is the unique combination of all kinds of features that determines what a mineral specimen is worth. So what kind of features should you consider?

Commercial value

When it comes to estimating the value of a mineral specimen, one of the first things to consider is the demand: is it sought after, or in other words, does it have commercial value? An octahedron of magnetite holds scientific and educational value but little commercial value, while the beauty of a transparent diamond octahedron makes it worth a small fortune. One of the features that can make a mineral specimen particularly interesting is its rarity; rare minerals are more valuable than common ones. Rarity is more complex than simple mathematics, however. Rarity in terms of its location is of importance too, how rare are specimens from that particular locality or mine? And then there is the matter of trends and functionality, some minerals are used as a gemstones which makes the demand greater.

Chemical composition

Many minerals are valuable due to their chemical composition. These include rare metals like gold, platinum & silver. Most of these are specifically in demand because of their use in the arts and in society. Value generally also increases when a mineral contains rare-earth elements such as cerium or yttrium. In such cases the presence of the rare earth element is noted after the minerals general name, eg agardite-Ce.

“The looks”

Size matters, although as previously stated it really depends on the type of mineral. Large, perfect crystals with brilliant faces are generally the most valuable types of minerals. When it comes to colour, intensely coloured minerals such as Tourmaline or Fluorite are high in demand. With transparent minerals, value tends to increase as the transparency level and the “shiny, shimmering look” increases. Well-formed or special, unique crystals are in higher demand than ones that have imperfections or are damaged. Other features, like hardness and general aesthetic of the mineral specimen, especially for gemstones, also contribute to the value. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; even great mineralogists with scientific interest have a fair share of “plain beauties” in their collection!

The story behind it

As with all collectables, mineral specimens which have an interesting backstory tend to be more valuable. Who wouldn’t be fascinated to know their mineral specimen was found a hundred years ago, in a faraway land, by a famous mineral collector?

To sum it up: a combination of rarity, size, form, attractiveness, history and chemical composition determines the value of your mineral specimen. Not an easy job, but very fascinating and possibly profitable! Do you own a mineral specimen that you believe is valuable, and do you wish to put it up for auction? Register here, and our experts will estimate the value of your mineral specimen!

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