Saturday, February 17, 2007

Tales of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show III – Who’s buying the high-end minerals?

The prices of high-end minerals are reportedly rising 10% a year or more. What’s driving this? Well, our inside expert who I dub “Deep Mine” says that the stratospheric prices of fine art are driving the wealthy to the relatively cheap minerals markets.

Where the top prices for art can easily run into the tens of millions of dollars (and over $100 million for the most sought-ever items), the world’s best mineral specimens command only a fraction of that, perhaps one million dollars.

It’s really only the more exquisite and rarer pieces that are getting the top increases. (above - tourmaline on quartz; asking price $2.4 million)

So, you shouldn’t expect the $20 chunk of amethyst sitting on your bookshelf to finance your retirement or the kid’s college tuition.

The buyers of the top mineral specimens in many cases did not actually show up in Tucson, instead using expert agents to seek out the best of the best and negotiate the deals. One name circulating widely among sellers is that of Bruce Oreck, heir to the vacuum cleaner business and reportedly a major collector.

Minerals are still not widely collected, at least compared to fine art, suggesting that continued appreciation may be expected at least as long as Matisse’s and Rembrandt’s continue to climb.


  1. Anonymous4:35 PM

    my dad found a 240lb rock and if u put a magnet to it it sticks does that mean it is a meteorite?

  2. Lee Allison8:21 AM

    Could it be a meteorite? Sure, but it could also be one of many iron-bearing rocks that are common.

    Only some meteorites are iron rich and magnetic. Stony meteorites are more common.

    There are also lots of metallic minerals in Arizona (assuming that's where your Dad found the sample).

    The meteorite experts at ASU get hundreds of inquiries per year from people who ask if the metallic rock they found is a meteorite. Most turn out to be from the earth.

  3. Lee I have acquired a gem and mineral collection that I want to sell as a lot. There are 270 LBS of everything from crystals that weigh 80 lbs to large chunks of jade to raw gem rocks uncut, and also things that I can't identify. I am disabled and can't even think about selling this at the gem shows, so need help.