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What Is Mineral and Gemstone Collecting? Start a Gem Collection Today!

Updated on February 23, 2011

For many gems and minerals refer to those sparkling and shiny elements in jewellery. For others, collecting these gems has become a lifelong passion. Mineral and gemstone collection brings a greater appreciation for the natural crystals and other beautiful items that can be found underneath the surface of our planet.

Minerals and gemstones in jewellery are often polished but they can be just as beautiful, if not more, in their raw and unpolished form. Collectors often display their items together to showcase their mineral collection. Some museums also have large collections of minerals, such as the Hall of Minerals and the Hall of Gems in the American Museum of Natural History.

This article tells you more to get started with this hobby and what it involves.

Crystal | Source
Lapis Lazuli, Afghanistan
Lapis Lazuli, Afghanistan | Source

Getting started with collecting gems and minerals

Where to find minerals?
You don't need much to get started with this hobby. You can buy gems and minerals from specialized stores. You may need to search online for your nearest mineral store.

You generally won't find them in jewellery stores so don't bother asking as they usually don't have them in stock. From a commerial perspective this makes sense of course because a lot more people are interested in jewellery with polished minerals and gems. You'll need to find other people who also collect minerals.

There are also local and international mineral fairs and shows where many mineral collectors flock together. As an example, the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is well-known in the United States and internationally among mineral collectors. It's the largest event of its kind in the United States.

Where to store your minerals?
When your small collection starts to grow you'll need to make some space to put them. You can buy a display case for your minerals. These are typically made of glass and they feature lights which highlight the minerals in the evening.

For informative purposes, you can also create or purchase small signs on which you can write the name and place of discovery of your gemstone. Make sure that you also get this information from the seller when you purchase a mineral.

How can I learn more about minerals?
If you're interested in how minerals are formed you can buy special mineral books about all kinds of minerals. These books tell you about the colors, the shapes and the locations of where certain minerals are found. You can also subscribe to mineral magazines.

The study of minerals is called mineralogy. This field of study is all about how they are formed in the earth and the specific shapes that minerals can have.

You can also find others who share similar interests in geology clubs and mineral museums. The follow article tells you where you can find other mineral collectors:

Rocks and minerals books

Fluorescent mineral products

Minerals and gems under ultraviolet light

Some gems don't look very spectacular under normal light but they do shine under ultraviolet light or UV light. These are called fluorescent minerals. You need to buy a special lamp to view these bright colors. The same lamp can also be used to see security features of money or other things that light up under ultraviolet light.

Dedicated mineral collectors sometimes reserve a special section in their showcase for fluorescent minerals. This section has been darkened and a UV lamp has been installed to view the fluorescent colors of minerals under that type of light.

For more information, see the following article:

Visiting mines to dig for minerals and gems yourself

If collecting minerals has really become your passion then you can visit a mine to dig for gems yourself. You can go into a mine where they allow you to cut and dig in areas which are known to have minerals and gems. If you're lucky, you might find something and it's yours to keep!

It's usually not possible to dig in commercial mines but there are mines that are open for public and for this purpose (to allow anyone to mine there). You'll need to purchase or rent some tools, such as a chisel and hammer, because otherwise it's rather hard to get those gems out of the mine! You can take rocks out of the mine to examine them later: they might contain a mineral inside but it is also possible that you picked up just a plain rock.

Collection of minerals in a museum.
Collection of minerals in a museum. | Source

Is collecting gems an expensive hobby?

I would say no. You don't need to buy the more expensive minerals but you can start your mineral collection with cheap items such as pyrite, quartz and agate. The price also depends on the size and the quality of the gem.

If you happen to be abroad then you can also buy gems from that country, usually for a cheap price. You can also go to large events where many collectors have gathered. These distributors may have discounts on certain items or you can buy a lot of minerals together in bulk.

If you're willing to invest more then you can purchase more expensive minerals and gems, such as opals, to create a diverse collection. If a nice gem catches your eye then you should always evaluate whether it's worth the price. You can do research in mineral books to see which minerals are more abundant in the earth than others. These are, of course, cheaper and a nice way to start your collection.

This article was written by Simeon Visser. I am earning money online by writing here at Would you like to earn money online as well? Read the success stories and sign up today to get started!


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    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This looks like a fun thing to do. Really wanting to go gold panning but this could be as much fun and maybe more affordable. Thank you for the info!