Ten Things You Didn’t Know: Collecting Rocks, Gems & Minerals

1 There is an active community of people devoted to collecting rocks, gems & minerals and the members call themselves (rockhounds), as well as two magazines serving the community for a minimum of 40 years. In fact, Rocks & Minerals magazine has been in publication since 1926, while Rocks & Gems magazine is 41 years young.

2 A large rose and smoky quartz, measuring 15 1/2 inches by 8 inches,

Rose and smoky quartz specimen popular collecting rocks, gems & minerals

Rose and smoky quartz specimen claimed top lot, selling for $662,500, during a June 2 event at Heritage Auctions. (Photo courtesy Heritage Auctions)

sold for $662,500 during Heritage Auctions’ Nature & Science Signature Auction June 2, 2013 – part of the largest fine mineral collection ever to appear at auction. The quartz, which was discovered in a small mine in Brazil sometime between 1959 and 1972, is referred to as the “La Madona Rosa,” for what some believe is an uncanny resemblance to modern day images of the Virgin Mary.

3 There are more than 200 rock, gem and mineral shows slated for July through December of 2013 in the U.S. alone. Show information can be found at www.rockngems.com and www.rocksandminerals.com.

4 The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History houses approximately 350,000 mineral specimens and 10,000 gems – one of the largest collections in the world.

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5 A Linarite specimen, a rarely seen copper mineral – discovered during a dig in New Mexico in 1979, sold for $158,500 during Heritage Auctions’ June 2 auction.

6 There are more than 80 museums that contain significant gems and minerals exhibit/collections around the world. More than half of all those are located in North America.

7 Examples of metallurgy (definition: Art and science of extracting metals from their ores

elongated Copper crystals with brown patina is a big prize in collecting rocks, gems & minerals

This lattice of elongate Copper crystals, with chocolate-brown patina, dates back to the early 1900s, fetched $22,500. (Photo courtesy Heritage Auctions)

and modifying the metals for use) date back more than 7,000 years, based on discovery of jewelry made from forged copper.

8 Rock and mineral collecting expeditions are growing in popularity. Companies like Geology Adventures lead tours stateside and abroad.

9 A sample of ore from the famous Cripple Creek mining region of Colorado sold for $2,375 during Heritage Auctions’ Nature & Science Signature Auction. The high-grade sample is a gray wall rock, which sandwiches a ribbon of purple Flurite that cuts through brassy, bladed crystals of Calaverite: Gold Telluride.

10 There are hundreds of clubs dedicated to rocks, gems and minerals in the U.S. alone. A great portal to locating collecting clubs in your area is www.gemandmineral.com/states.html.

Sources: “Collecting Rocks, Gems and Minerals,” by Patti Polk; Webster’s Dictionary; www.rockngem.com; www.rocksandminerals.com; Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (www.mineralsciences.si.edu); Heritage Auctions (www.ha.com); American Geoscience Institute (www.agiweb.org/smmp/museums.htm); The Gem and Mineral Exploration Company (www.gemandmineral.com).