Buying Mineral Specimens

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Not everyone prefers to have gemstones that are faceted, carved or cabbed by manufacturers. Some collectors still prefer nature's own beautiful forms for their treasures. A lot of these collectors specifically seek out beautiful minerals that are still housed in a part of their natural earthy or rocky environment.

We call these 'en-matrix' or 'in-matrix' specimens, because they still have a portion of host rock housing them. Many beautiful pieces of in-matrix minerals can be found at famous museums all over the world. Other uncut minerals are also beautifully left as is, in order for the public to see how crystals can grow in nature.



Uncut Gemstones Can Command Very High Prices, Especially Pristine Specimens Still in Their Rough Rock Matrix.


The Devonshire emerald in the 'Vault' area of London's Natural History Museum is a good example of this. It shows us how emerald grows with the crystal habit of a hexagonal column, and makes it easy for people to observe due to its large size.


Mineral specimens can range from quite affordable to incredibly costly in terms of price. They can also be as small as your fingernail, to as large as a basketball player. It really depends on the individual collector on which types he or she would fancy to keep.

The size groups used in the market are normally as follows:

Thumbnail - These are the ones that can be as small as your fingernail, ranging from less than 1 cm to about 3 cm in height or width.

Miniature - A little bigger than your thumbnail specimens, rising from 3cm to a maximum of around 6cm in size.

Cabinet - Also called medium size by some people, this size range spans from 6cm to about 10cm.

Large Cabinet - This is a more general range stating a size over 10cm in height or width, however significantly large pieces are sometimes called "Museum Piece or Museum Size".

When shopping around for a beautiful mineral specimen, look for the piece that catches your eye within the first two seconds of a glance. They say that beautiful pieces have nothing to hide, and that they captivate public gaze quite automatically and naturally.


Pieces with large, or well-formed crystals usually cost more. Likewise those that form according to famous habits may also command high prices. Such examples would be double barrel-shaped blue sapphires, hexagonal columns of emerald and perfectly terminated diamond octahedra crystals.

Transparent clarity and saturated color also increase the value of most mineral specimens. Many connoisseurs will bid at auction for a fine en-matrix piece with beautiful vivid crystals that look like they've been unearthed with the utmost care and precision.

If you'd like to see the visual criteria for choosing excellent mineral specimens, why not visit a museum and ask if they house a geological or mineralogical collection. Usually the pieces here are carefully chosen by experienced buyers or curators for the museum's best interest.

Gemcamp Laboratories

A Discovery Institute for Gemstones and Gemology

Our resident gemologists believe in encouraging public trust within the jewellery industry through shared education, value transparency and professionalism.

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