What’s the best way to handle your minerals? How can you clean your minerals effectively and safely? From storing your minerals to transporting them, Trevor Boyd, one of our in-house Natural History experts will take you through everything you need to know to keep your mineral specimens safe, protected and well presented. With over 35 years of experience, no one else is better for the job. Here's Trevor's advice on how to take care of your mineral specimens.
Storing and Displaying Your Minerals
How you want to display your minerals depends on your collection and your own tastes. The classic way to store minerals is to use small cardboard trays, perspex bases or acrylic display boxes. These are extremely effective from an organisational point of view and can be great for keeping your minerals safe and reasonably dust free. The minerals can then either be displayed in a glass-fronted display cabinet with effective internal lighting or simply in drawers which can be pulled out to view the contents. You may want to arrange your specimens in such a way that there is an interesting range of different colours on display, or you may want to group your collection by colour, e.g. keep the greens together, the reds together etc. Very often collectors chose to group their collection by mineral type, perhaps displaying how the crystals differ in shape or colour from different locations around the world. Or perhaps try grouping specimens from the same mineral locality together to give a nice representation of what minerals can be found there.
Display your minerals in a glass-fronted display cabinet with effective internal lighting or simply in drawers which can be pulled out to view the minerals
Cleaning Your Minerals
Minerals will often need some type of cleaning before they can be put into a display - especially any that you have collected yourself. Cleaning can range from a simple rinse with ordinary water to treatment with some more advanced cleaning products. Minerals which have built up a coating of dirt and organic matter may require a bleach chemical, such sodium hypochlorite, to be cleaned. For tougher stains, such as iron oxide staining, oxalic acid can be used. When using any such chemicals, be sure to take all appropriate measures to protect your skin, eyes and clothing. Also be aware that some minerals - including sulphate minerals - will react with water or are soluble in water, and so should never be washed. So do you research or consult an expert if you're not surevbefore you start cleaning your minerals.
Cleaning your minerals can range from a simple rinse with ordinary water to treatment with some more advanced cleaning products
Handling Your Minerals
When handling minerals, take special care to keep both yourself and the specimen safe. If you don’t have a display base or box to carry the specimen without having to actually touch it, handle the specimen by any rock, known as the matrix, into which it is embedded. If no matrix is present, carry the mineral very carefully ensuring that the minimum amount of force or stress is placed on the specimen. You should always wash your hands thoroughly after handling any mineral specimen and avoid inhaling any dust derived from it. Be aware that certain minerals, including those bearing uranium, mercury or arsenic can pose potential health risks. Wear gloves when handling such specimens and consider storing them separately from your other specimens, potentially even outside your home completely.
Carry your minerals very carefully, ensuring that the minimum amount of force or stress is placed on the specimen
Transporting Your Minerals
Minerals are very often most vulnerable to damage when being moved or transported. Usually this happens at the point of collection or purchase. Trevor advises that newspaper is a great resource for wrapping and protecting minerals, especially if you’ve just been on a collecting trip. “There’s nothing more depressing than to arrive home after a day of collecting and find specimens in pieces in the back of the car!” he comments. As for shipping minerals, for example if selling minerals on Catawiki, the specimens should wrapped efficiently. Wrap the specimen in tissue or foam within a display box or tray and then wrap this in bubble-wrap or newspaper. Then place this inside another newspaper-filled cardboard box and the mineral specimen is ready to be shipped. For the most delicate of specimens, the best way to transport them is actually in a box filled with soap powder. This ensures that the specimen cannot move at all and the powder can be easily washed off afterwards. Unorthodox? Perhaps. Effective? Most definitely!
Minerals are most vulnerable to damage when being moved or transported, so take Trevor's advice to avoid broken specimens and disappointment
If you take the time to handle and store your mineral specimens with care then your collection will be around for future generations to enjoy! You can therefore have a lifetime of enjoyment from these amazing natural beauties. Collector or dealer, you can find incredible collections and communities here at Catawiki’s Mineral auctions and with just one free account you can bid, buy and sell minerals and other special objects. Register for your free account to begin your journey right away.
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