We're excited to be Colorado-bound soon, for the 2023 Hard Rock Summit show in Downtown Denver, opening September 15, and we hope to see you there.
Here in the Dallas gallery, we're busy preparing fine specimens from classic localities to share with you. We're proud to show several mineral showcases with a curated selection of choice specimens, acquired in the last year, including several specimens from the recently-purchased Wally Mann collection.
We will showcase another featured mineralauctions.com auction live from the show, with surprising offerings of high-end crystals and minerals available for in-person viewing (and online bidding!) If you haven't registered yet, please do so early to ensure your account is active.
Drop by to see a preview of upcoming Dr. Erika Pohl collection fine mineral and crystal auctions coming later in the year, selected from her vast collection of over 90000 specimens.
Want us to bring something specific from our gallery inventory for you to consider as your next acquisition? Contact us at admin@iRocks.com by Thursday, September 7 for us to add it to the truck.
Aug 24, 2023
A Behind-the-Scenes Conversation on the Making of Rare Earth
Jacqueline Chao, Dennis Kratz, Robert J. Stern, and Robert Lavinsky
Rare Earth: The Art and Science of Chinese Stones, recently on view at the Crow Museum of Asian Art of The University of Texas at Dallas, explores the diﬀerent ways that Chinese and Western cultures have celebrated the beauty found in, and created from, natural stones. Reﬂecting the educational mission of The University of Texas at Dallas to unite scientiﬁc and artistic thinking, the exhibition pairs works of Chinese art from the Crow Museum’s permanent collection with connoisseur-level samples of raw minerals from China. It uniquely displays these natural and reshaped minerals in contexts that invite multiple, interrelated responses: to appreciate their beauty, ponder their cultural signiﬁcance, and be inspired to understand the natural forces that created them.
Collecting rocks and stone carvings has been popular in many countries, but particularly in Chinese culture for thousands of years. This tradition is rooted in the philosophical and spiritual inspiration drawn from the artistic beauty of natural stones, such as jade. Unusually-shaped stones called “Scholar's Rocks” or “Philosopher’s Stones” carved by natural processes have also been long valued in China in particular, where there is a multibillion dollar market in such stones. Seen as embodiments of the dynamic transformational processes of nature, these stones were also admired for their resemblance to mountains or caves, particularly the magical peaks and subterranean paradises believed to be inhabited by immortal beings (Figure 1). Although mineral collecting, a practice based on the aesthetic appreciation or the scientiﬁc characteristics of the naturally symmetric and patterned crystals and minerals that make up rocks, has a long history in the United States and in Europe since the 1300s, it was not commonly practiced in China. The country’s abundant mineral resources were, instead, historically used as raw material for both art and industrial purposes only. In the mid-1980s, this changed when remarkable Chinese specimens entered the Western market, not only amazing collectors worldwide, but also stimulating a rising interest within China to collect ﬁne minerals.
This exhibition was co-organized by the Crow Museum of Asian Art of The University of Texas at Dallas and the Center for Asian Studies of The University of Texas at Dallas, in partnership with the UT Dallas Department of Geosciences and the Dr. Robert Lavinsky Mineral Collection.
On the occasion and as a reﬂection of the collaborative spirit of the exhibition, we wanted to provide an honest behind-the-scenes look at how the exhibition came to be amongst the organizers—from the selection of objects, to the various discussions, debates, arguments, and ensuing discoveries. In this conversation are Jacqueline Chao, former Senior Curator of Asian Art of the Crow Museum and curator of the exhibition; Dennis Kratz, Senior Associate Provost and Director of the Center for Asian Studies at UT Dallas; Robert J. Stern, Professor of Geosciences at UT Dallas; and Robert Lavinsky, lifelong ﬁne mineral collector and educator.
How did this exhibition come to be? Jacqueline Chao (JC): I have known Rob Lavinsky for several years now, and a few years ago I and several members of the Crow Museum’s staﬀ had visited the Arkenstone Gallery, to see Rob’s mineral collection. I remember that I was blown away by the size and scale of his collection, which included minerals from all over the world, along with a particular special private area of the collection dedicated to minerals from China, many types and samples of which I had never heard of, or ever seen before. In those early visits, many years ago, Rob and I discussed what an art exhibition could look like that blended aspects of Chinese art and culture with natural minerals. Also at the time, we had been in communication with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, as they were in the process of re-installing their Gems and Minerals Hall with a focus on minerals from China, and our two museum teams had met to see if there was a way to possibly collaborate on the timing of both our exhibitions. With our Museum’s subsequent merger with UT Dallas and the ensuing pandemic, all of our Museum’s plans were delayed. I am grateful to Dr. Kratz for having helped to pick this conversation back up again last year through the Center for Asian Studies (CAS) Faculty Advisory Board, and for reconnecting me with Rob (Lavinsky) as well as introducing me to Bob (Dr. Stern).
Dennis Kratz (DK): As I recall, the project slowly emerged from a series of conversations involving various combinations of the four partners. For me, it began with a tour of the Arkenstone Gallery and a conversation with Rob about our shared interest in connecting science with art—for him, using art to attract students to scientiﬁc thinking; for me, merging scientiﬁc, artistic, and humanistic thinking in education. Subsequent conversations with Bob Stern and Jacqueline Chao—and I assume their conversations with one another and Rob—inevitably developed the idea of connections; and Jacqueline had an impressive ability to translate this generative concept into the form of an exhibition. Robert Stern (RS): I have been on the UT Dallas Geosciences faculty for 40 years. In that time I have seen amazing growth at UT Dallas. We have added so many groups of people with a wide range of talents, certainly new degree programs, departments and schools but also things like the Center for Asian Studies (CAS) and the Crow Museum of Asian Art.
I am increasingly concerned that UT Dallas’s growth has not been matched by eﬀorts to link these groups together, and to involve our students and communities in more of our activities. Nearing the end of my career, I enjoy trying to help build some of these connections and getting involved with CAS provides a great opportunity to do so. I also enjoy working on new projects, like CAS and Athenaeum Review, because the ground rules for these babies are still ﬂexible, encouraging innovation and experimentation. When CAS formed, I was interested to help involve science in its purview and reached out to Dennis, who was kind enough to invite me to join the CAS faculty advisory board. I was very happy to join because I am very interested in Asian geology and resources, partly because I am a geologist and understanding how Asia and its important mineral resources formed is very interesting, and partly because I am Editor-in-Chief of a journal, International Geology Review, which gets a lot of manuscripts about Chinese geology. I knew about Rob Lavinsky’s world-class mineral gallery, the Arkenstone, and also have been a big fan of the Crow Museum for many years before it became part of UT Dallas. Before the covid pandemic, Dennis was looking for ideas about how CAS could announce itself to the larger DFW community and, as I recall, I suggested that we somehow marry the Chinese art in the Crow with the Chinese minerals in Rob’s collection. Rob and Jacqueline did the heavy lifting to make it happen.
In your own words, how would you describe your role in this project? What was your approach? What were your main concerns regarding this project, if any? JC: My role, at least as I understood it, was to curate the exhibition, particularly the Chinese art works on view. I worked closely with Rob to identify particular mineral examples from his Chinese mineral collection, and we continued to adjust the list of mineral samples right up until beginning the exhibition installation.
My main concern and approach was to make sure that Chinese art and culture was presented authentically and respectfully, and also that the mineral examples were being presented authentically and respectfully as well. My ﬁrst idea was to create thoughtful and intentional pairings of like object and mineral, where each case would showcase a particular mineral. However, when reviewing the museum’s Chinese art collection, it became clear that I did not necessarily always have certain minerals represented in works of art, because those minerals were not used as the base for Chinese art production historically. While minerals such as gold and silver were more easily represented and could be thoughtfully paired with existing works from the museum’s permanent collection, other minerals such as hemimorphite or aragonite had not been traditionally used for art production, instead having been more often used historically for industrial purposes. I was faced with a conundrum: how do I showcase these fantastic natural mineral examples, while still making a respectful and authentic connection to Chinese art and culture?
After several rounds of case mock-ups and thoughtful discussion, I proposed taking what I called “aesthetic leaps” in thinking about the display of certain artworks and certain minerals. For example, I paired the hemimorphite “cloud” and aragonite “tree” with our Duan stone table screen to highlight the landscape motifs of the screen. I placed the large pink Pyrite on Calcite (Figure 2) on its own in one case, and in its object label, I connected it to the tree peony, discussed the signiﬁcance of the peony ﬂower in Chinese art and culture, and so on and so forth. I wanted to allow visitors to the exhibition to be able to participate in creating the story of these objects in a way, and to be able to make these aesthetic connections on their own, in order to appreciate each work, whether a piece from the museum’s collection, or a stunning natural mineral example. Every conversation with Dennis, Bob, and Rob was incredibly helpful. Both Bob and Rob were especially helpful in drafting more detailed scientiﬁc explanations for each mineral, which I think was critical in cementing the collaborative theme of science and art in this show.
DK: My role (at least as I imagined it) was to keep the exhibition focused on the process of thinking that the objects on display inspired. At the time, I was involved in a cross-centuries conversation with Alexander von Humboldt. I had just ﬁnished reading a biography (The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf) and was in the midst of Cosmos, Humboldt’s grand attempt both to describe the natural world as a living whole, all its parts inextricably and intricately interconnected, and to show that a full understanding of nature required the fusion of intellect and imagination. I wanted the exhibition to evoke a similar kind of “interconnected” response.
The decision to juxtapose “natural” and human-sculpted pieces was a brilliant start. It wouldn’t be enough, however, simply for a science-minded observer to see beauty, or for an artful-minded observer just to become more interested in the natural processes that created the minerals on display. Somehow, I hoped, some observers would become participants in seeing and imagining multiple kinds of connections between works displayed side-by-side and among works displayed separately.
RS: I helped with the original idea, and also provided some explanations for various minerals. I knew from many years of teaching at UT Dallas that the equally intelligent Chinese art history and mineral communities were equally knowledgeable of their own field and equally ignorant of the other, so the explanations of various minerals in the displays needed to be short, simple, and without too many unnecessary details. I really had no concerns about the project.
Rob Lavinsky (RL): Minerals, crystals, and beautifully shaped rock formations have a profound place of honor as treasured objects in many human cultures and in the art they create. We’re used to seeing human creations that owe their coloring to these raw, natural minerals in carvings, jewelry, and paintings. In Western culture, historically, we have tended to focus less on appreciating their natural forms. In Asian cultures, there is a particularly strong cultural relevance to displaying naturally-shaped stones as art objects with imbued cultural meanings to enhance the home and even health. This rising trend in popular culture is now fusing with the longstanding tradition of Americans and Europeans curating focused mineral collections. We’re proud to develop this cooperative effort between the Crow Museum of Asian Art, UT Dallas, and my own collection to share the unbelievable natural beauty, history, and cultural relevance of these natural works of art in synergy, blurring the lines between the seemingly separate worlds in how we classify nature, science, and art. My hope for this exhibition is to show people the unbelievable, and collectible, beauty within the earth, which is just now gaining a new level of awareness and appreciation. I have collected minerals all my life, since I first saw these treasures as a child, and it is my belief that through telling stories of connections to culture and art, people will see these objects in new eyes, not as reductionist “rocks on a shelf” as if the same objects were in a science museum.
Were there things that happened in the process of planning this exhibition that surprised you? What was something new you discovered? DK: Not so much as surprised by how much I learned from listening to the multi-perspective conversations among my three colleagues—especially Jacqueline’s process of juxtaposing pieces and creating the possibility of connections among distantly placed objects.
RS: I knew Chinese carvings of jade but was very surprised to learn that these incredible artists also carved quartz crystals.
JC: Echoing what Dr. Stern said earlier, I admit I am one of those art historians who did not have a very strong scientific knowledge of minerals going into this project. As a result, there were many discussions and debates that occurred during the planning of this exhibition that surprised me. For example, the question was raised about whether to include jade in the exhibition, as jade is not considered a mineral! I had always understood jade to be a mineral, and it was difficult to imagine this exhibition without including fine examples of Chinese jade carving, perhaps the largest and most important aspect of our museum’s Chinese collection. I was conscious of being careful to not misrepresent the various mineral examples either. From these conversations, I realized it was important and necessary to expand the scope of the show to include a broader discussion on the appreciation of stones in Chinese culture, from Scholar’s Rocks to other stones such as marble or soapstone—stones that are not technically classified as minerals, but rather, as metamorphic rocks. I think by expanding the scope of the exhibition to include the celebration of stones in Chinese art and culture in general, which includes gems and minerals, we were able to create a more rich and innovative presentation of these works. In the end, I am grateful for this wonderful partnership, the invigorating conversations, and everything that I have learned from this project.
RL: First, letting go of my traditional ways of viewing minerals—even though I see beyond, I am still constrained by the past—and letting Jacqueline go with it and make the selections herself…had a huge impact and change from what I might have picked, and yet I love them all. Secondly, the idea of less is more—this is not a science museum. We do not need quantity to convey impact, only quality and the right story.
What is your favorite piece in the show, and why? DK: Two “pink” flowers sculpted by nature (a large pink manganoan calcite, and two flowers formed by calcite on calcite). During a visit by the Chinese Consul General, I was showing the First Secretary (Lian Shuyu) the exhibit and pointed out the two flowers. Her response was immediate—and from a wholly different emotional perspective: Pink is her daughter’s favorite color. We then searched out other pieces mainly or just tinged with pink, while talking about our families, and reminding me of other ways that works of art—natural and human made—have the power to remind individuals from diﬀerent cultures of our common humanity.
RS: I have ﬁve favorites: The scholar’s rock (Figure 1), the pyrite turtle, the chrysanthemum stone, the tunnel rock, the big blanket, and a carved quartz vase. The Scholar’s Rock captures a sensibility that doesn’t exist in the West. These are natural pieces of limestone that were ﬁrst fractured into vertical slabs and exposed to the elements, which over thousands of years were slowly carved by slightly acid rainwater into ruggedly intricate shapes. These are found wherever limestone landscapes are fractured, uplifted, and exposed. Such landscapes are called karst, and the spectacular karstic limestone landscapes of Yunnan, southwest China, are famous; this is probably the region that many Scholars Rocks come from. Among the carved pieces, I very much admire the quartz pieces, especially the quartz vase. Quartz has a Mohs scale hardness of 7, and I can’t imagine the skill and patience it took to carve those!
I also like four natural pieces that make you stop and ask: Is that natural or carved? These are the pyrite concretion (turtle), the slab of yellow sandstone laced by iron oxide to resemble a tunnelscape, the big black slab of limestone with white “Chrysanthemums” of the mineral celestine, and the pink manganoan carbonate edged with pyrite (big blanket). The ﬁrst three of these are the result of subsurface chemical reactions that geologists call diagenesis. Diagenesis involves the physical and chemical changes that happen to sediments underground as they transform into sedimentary rock. Diagenesis happens in many ways and these three objects show three of them: 1) forming concretions (the turtle); 2) infiltrating chemical-laden fluids (lacy sandstone tunnel); and 3) growing new minerals (Chrysanthemums).
The turtle concretion is exquisite; its rounded body is permeated with pyrite crystals marking original sedimentary bedding planes. Concretions form in sediments after they are buried, as diagenetic chemical reactions begin to cement the loose grains, beginning from some nucleus and expanding outward, so that concretions are typically sub-spherical, like a turtle’s shell.
The big slab of sandstone laced with iron oxides is also a product of diagenesis. I got lost imagining myself going down this crenulated tunnel. This slab seems to have been cut out of a larger stone and polished. The lacy crenulations of reddish iron oxide formed when iron-rich fluids infiltrated the sandstone. The chrysanthemum rock is a black shale in which diagenesis sweated elements of strontium, sulfur, and oxygen to migrate slowly out of the surrounding rock and combine to form clusters of large celestine (strontium sulfate) crystals, radiating from a few nuclei thought to be caused by sulfur-rich bacteria trapped in the rock. The effect is stunning, with a few big white Chrysanthemum blossoms set against a jet-black background. The last of my favorite five is big blanket. This beauty has many pink, dainty calcite leaves that are exquisitely rimmed with metallic flakes of pyrite; it reminds me of a Dale Chihuly glass piece. The Tree of Life (Figure 3), an organic looking “natural sculpture” that reminds me of so many mythological constructs, really transcending all cultures. It is an aragonite from China, that I purchased there perhaps around 2010.
JC: This is an incredibly tough question to answer; every piece in the show is truly stunning and has an important place in this exhibition. I am particularly fond of our museum’s cloisonné vase (Figure 4), and my favorite mineral example in the exhibition is this beautiful azurite with malachite (Figure 5), and thinking about the relationship between the two. Cloisonné was known in the Byzantine world, and from there it spread to Europe and to China under the expansive Mongol empire. In this method, enclosures known by the French term cloisons, made of copper or bronze wires that have been bent or hammered into the desired pattern, are generally pasted or soldered onto a metal body. Glass paste, or enamel, is colored with metallic oxide and painted into the contained areas of the design. The vessel is usually fired at about 1470° F (800° c). When enamel is fired, it shrinks; therefore, the firing process is repeated multiple times in order to complete filling in the design. The surface of the vessel is then rubbed until the edges of the cloisons are visible and finally gilded.
The earliest appearance of Chinese cloisonné dates back to the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368), and the technique reached full maturity by the eighteenth century, as exemplified by the types of dense, complicated cloisons seen on the museum’s vase. Strong, vibrant colors, such as turquoise, lapis blue, and golden yellow, made cloisonné an ideal medium that suited the Qing imperial aesthetic. The museum’s vase may have been made in the imperial cloisonné workshop established in the Forbidden City by the Qing dynasty emperor Kangxi.
From the late seventeenth century onward, cloisonné was popularly used at court for domestic goods, ritual vessels, and purely decorative items intended primarily for the furnishing of temples and palaces due to their flamboyant colors. The tapering neck of this work has two gilded handles in the shape of stylized chi, or hornless dragons. This vase is covered with magnolia, peony, lotus, chrysanthemum, and prunus motifs that represent the four seasons. They are interspersed with archaic bi discs in purple and green. The details of the vase are absolutely incredible! The deep blue color of the azurite in the exhibition is so rich and draws the eyes in immediately. I have always known azurite as traditionally used as the base for the color blue in Chinese ink paintings, ceramics, and cloisonné, and malachite was also used for green, but what I learned through the course of this exhibition is that azurite is also an ore of copper, and has also been mined and broken down for its copper properties, as was malachite. When you see this azurite in person, it is so hard to imagine that such a beautiful example like this could have been mined and broken down for its copper!
What was your biggest takeaway from this experience? Final thoughts, messages, etc. DK: Thinking and imagining along a new path toward a shared goal with colleagues and friends should happen more often. Can we design or happen upon more ways to nurture such experiences? At one point in our conversations, Bob Stern used the metaphor of “injuring” gemstones to make them more beautiful—and thereby of greater value (in multiple senses of the term). That comment gave the exhibition an underlying ethical level. We injure the earth when we imagine it as a “source” of economically valuable resources; but we are appalled by the thought of damaging nature’s “stone art” that is magnificently visible—Grand Canyon and Uluru, for example. Should it be equally troubling to injure an underground artisan workshop where unceasing geological forces are creating beauty?
RL: That I can share these treasures I have always felt a visceral, gut-level love for, with others. That other people can see them in association with “real treasures” and come away with the impact of seeing nature’s art on its own, as worthy connoisseur-level collectibles that have a place outside the realm of mere science.
Rare Earth: The Art and Science of Chinese Stones was on view at the Crow Museum of Asian Art of The University of Texas at Dallas through February 26, 2023.
Dallas Mineral Collecting Symposium Livestream Tickets Now Available
Aug 4, 2023
We hope you'll join our 2023 Dallas Mineral Collecting Symposium Livestream on Saturday, August 19, 2023.
This is a full day of talks with opening remarks starting at 9:45AM and our first speaker starting at 10 CDT. Talks are scheduled to end around 5PM. Detailed symposium schedule and benefit auction details are provided below.
Schedule times are listed in CDT. Convert times HERE
We'll also be hosting our annual Symposium Benefit Auction online again this year, on MineralAuctions.com, complete with dozens of minerals, mineralia, and mineral collecting field trips. Auction proceeds benefit The Mineralogical Record, Rocks & Minerals, mindat.org, and the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. If you don't have an account on the auction site yet, we recommend signing up early!
AGTA Las Vegas Gem Auction is LIVE on MineralAuctions.com!
Jun 2, 2023
MineralAuctions.com (a subsidiary of The Arkenstone, AGTA firm-member) and the American Gem Trade Association are pleased to announce the follow up to the our featured AGTA-member gemstone auctions hosted online for worldwide participation. The first AGTA-member gemstone auction was held in earlier this year during the Tucson 2023 show.
This second AGTA auction features 50 wonderful examples of gemstones and lapidary from localities around the world. We've included a few of our favorite gems as examples below. The auctions are scheduled to end on June 3, 2023 at 5:30 pm CST.
MineralAuctions.com has decades of experience auctioning fine minerals and gemstones, and the team at MineralAuctions.com is excited at the opportunity to offer the quality and prestige of AGTA-member gemstones to the broader public, giving AGTA members a chance to reach a new audience and promote the AGTA branding of quality and value to the larger world, as online sales venues and audiences continue to grow.
Enhancements Coming Soon to MineralAuctions.com!
May 23, 2023
NEW UPDATES - Effective June 15, 2023
With continuous improvement in mind, we recently conducted a user survey from a randomly selected group of active users on our website. Based on the generous feedback we received, we've developed some quality of life improvements to better meet the needs of our customers and are rolling out the first batch of updates. Please read the updates below for complete details of these important changes. A few minor changes have already gone live (as noted below). Previous updates that rolled out in late 2022 are noted underneath the new updates, for reference.
BIDDING UPDATES - EXTENDED BIDDING TIME THRESHOLDS
Based on user feedback, we've made the decision to adjust our extended bidding time thresholds to reduce the thresholds.
Adjusted cut-off for extended bidding from 5 minutes to 3 minutes
Adjusted the timer extension from 5 minutes to 3 minutes
PREVIOUSLY - If you placed a bid within the last 5 minutes of an auction, an additional 5 minutes was added to the remaining timer. For example, if a bid was placed with 4 minutes remaining on the clock, the new end time would have adjusted to 9 minutes. This would have repeated for any bid placed within the last 5 minutes remaining, until there were no more bids.
NEW, UPDATED TIMES AS OF JUNE 15 - Now, the timer will not extend unless a bid is made within the last 3 minutes, and will only add 3 minutes to the remaining time. For example, if a bid is placed with 2:30 remaining, the updated amount of time remaining would be 5:30.
This adjustment should help in the rare cases extended bidding continues for long periods of time and will quicken the pace at closing.
SHIPPING UPDATES - NEW FREE SHIPPING THRESHOLDS
Beginning on all orders on or after June 15, 2023, we are pleased to now offer free shipping for orders meeting specific value thresholds:
DOMESTIC SHIPMENTS WITHIN THE US: All orders valued at $2000 or more before any applicable taxes/shipping will now ship free.
INTERNATIONAL SHIPMENTS: All orders valued at $5000 or more before any applicable taxes/shipping will now ship free. **Please note: The Arkenstone is not responsible for any customs fees or taxes charged by customs offices in international locations. These fees are the responsibility of the buyer**
All orders below these thresholds will continue to be billed at our discounted cost (for FedEx options), based on destination location, package weight/size, and value. Due to the risk of shipment, we utilize insured and signature-required USPS Priority Mail or FedEx Express as these methods have the best success rates and protection for your purchases. Please see the Payment and Shipping Info page for more detailed information on what methods we use, based on location and shipment value.
We are happy to combine multiple orders in order to meet these thresholds, however due to Texas law, we are only able to hold shipments up to 180 days. Please discuss any holds at the time of billing to coordinate.
USER PROFILE DASHBOARD CHANGES
Added watchlist link to the top of the page for easy navigation when logged in. This change will also benefit mobile users, reducing time and steps to navigate to this page for an overview of watched items/items you are bidding on. This change is already live now! Reminder: any item you have placed a bid on will appear on the watchlist automatically, so you do not need to manually add them. You DO need to manually add items you are NOT bidding on, which is possible by clicking the the star in the upper-left corner of the image when hovering over a listing OR by clicking the 'add item to watchlist' button when viewing the individual item.
Updated the watchlist page on user profile to separate items based on whether they are currently live or closed. Additionally, live items will sort prioritizing items ending soonest first. Closed items can be viewed by clicking on the 'closed auctions' tab. This will keep your default watchlist clean of any closed auctions so you can focus on only active, live items. Items you are the high bidder on will continue to be outlined in green. Items you have been outbid on will be outlined in red. Items you have not bid on will have no colored outline.
Updated the bid history page to prioritize showing winning bids only by default. Added tabs to align with design across the website for consistency. Complete bid history can be viewed by clicking on the 'all bids' tab.
Moved logout to user profile menu. To navigate to log out from the home page, click on 'profile' on the top of the page, and then select 'logout' from the menu. This change is already live now!
Added 'Collection' as a search field for closed items. In this field, type the last name only to search closed items from a specific ex collection. Please note - the ex collection field was added to individual listings at the end of 2022, so items from auctions prior to this time may not display in these results. For items older than this, search via the general text search field for best results.
Added a link to custom base information to the bottom of each listing. To request a custom base be made for auction wins, please inform us during the billing process. Please note - custom base lead time varies depending on current volume and complexity/size of the order. This change is already live now!
Added new options to navigation menu under Auctions:
Changed the name of 'Current Auctions' to 'Live Auction Items'
Auctions Gallery now displays current auctions in gallery view, with a tab to view closed auctions in gallery view for context and reference.
Added 'Benefit Auctions' to display benefit auctions separately. Closed benefit auctions may be viewed by clicking on the closed auctions tab.
Moved the contact form from the Billing and Shipping information page to the About Us page.
Enlarged photo/video size when opening to view larger on individual items to accommodate larger, higher resolution screens. These larger photos/videos should also allow for better inspection of items.
Removed timed cut-off for the display of ending bid amounts on closed items. Backdated display of ending bids to January 2020. Items older than this date will not display ending bids. Moving forward, ending bid values will be displayed for closed items indefinitely.
Added sort options to auction gallery view. When viewing individual auction pages, you will now be able to sort by a few options for easier navigation.
PROXY BIDDING REMINDER
We received some feedback and questions regarding our proxy bidding procedures. Please take a moment to review the proxy bidding section on the Bidding Rules page for details and examples of how this process works.
Note: your proxy bid is the maximum you would like to pay for an item. However, this does not necessarily mean that is what you will end up paying. If you win an auction at a lower amount than your maximum proxy bid, you would pay the ending bid amount. With any additional questions, please reach out!
Rock Roundup: April 2023 Edition
May 1, 2023
Welcome to the monthly rock roundup, where we recap some of our favorite and interesting specimens that we've released for sale this past month. In case you missed it, he's a quick rundown on some of what we think you should check out. This edition we'd like to focus on some significant updates from the Bill and Anne Cook Collection, Mango Quartz, and Peru updates!
New Updates from the Bill and Anne Cook Collection
Bill and Anne Cook were known for collecting a wide range of crystals. From their suite of exceptional thumbnails to remarkable mixed minerals in miniature through cabinet size range, we are excited to offer fine minerals from their collection starting in the hundreds of dollars, reaching into the 5-figures! You can view specimens from the Bill and Anne Cook Collection that are currently available on the website here.
Here is a little background on Bill and Anne Cook as presented by Mindat.org under the page for Wilancookite, a mineral named after them by Luis Menezes.
Named after William ("Bill") (1927-2006) and Anne (1928-2021) Cook, an avid mineral collector couple. Bill had a PhD in geology, and was a crystallographer at Clevite Research, which became part of Gould. When that company closed its research center in Cleveland, he with several others founded Cleveland Crystals, Inc., which became a pre-eminent grower of electro-optic and nonlinear crystals. He also served for many years as adjunct curator of mineralogy at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Anne, a mathematician, worked in the engineering department of AT&T and later as a math tutor at two high schools in the Cleveland area. She served as president of the Midwest Federation of Mineralogical Societies, and for many years as secretary of the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies. The Baltimore Mineral Society inducted Anne Cook into the Micromounters' Hall of Fame at the 63rd Annual Paul Desautels Micromount Symposium in Baltimore on October 12, 2019. Both Bill and Anne, at various times, served as president both of the Mineralogical Society of Cleveland and of the Micromineral Society of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
You can also view a photo of Bill and Anne here on Mindat.org as well (photo by Jeffrey Shallit).
Very Rare Native Mercury from Socrates Mine, California, USA
Extremely rich specimen liberally covered with silvery droplets of Native Mercury. Mercury is the only recognized mineral that is found as a liquid at room temperature and is quite rare in specimen form. The specimen has been sprayed with clear lacquer to stabilize the mercury - which is a standard procedure for Mercury to stabilize the droplets.NOTE: This specimen should only be arranged for pick up at a major show, or at our gallery for hand delivery. Learn more about this Native Mercury specimen here.
Classic, Bright Chrysocolla ps. Azurite from, Ray Mine, Arizona, USA
An aesthetic, classic pseudomorph of Chrysocolla after Azurite from the Ray Mine of Arizona, probably originated from the 2280 Level. These old classics are rarely seen for sale. Superb for its size with unusually elegant structure, beautiful color zoning from light blue-green to darker teal, and well terminated across the main, vertical crystals. Learn more about this Chrysocolla after Azurite specimen here.
Exceptional, Gemmy Orpiment with Calcite from Jiepaiyu Mine, Hunan, China
The exceptional orpiment specimens from the Jiepaiyu Mine in China (1990s) were long considered the best in the world and easily rival the best of those from Peru or Nevada, with their divergent clusters of bright orange, prismatic crystals like you see on this piece. This is a killer specimen with magnificent color on over two dozen, gemmy, lightly striated, lustrous and huge orpiment crystals; one of the better examples in this size from 1990s era production. Learn more about this orpiment specimen here.
Pristine, Glassy Lazulite with Siderite from Rapid Creek, Yukon, Canada
This significant cluster of lustrous, indigo-blue crystals of Lazulite with large crystals was probably from the 1970s or early 1980s finds in the Yukon Territory. The display area features at least two dozen fairly isolated, sparkling, glassy, and unusually pristine Lazurite crystals interspersed with brown Siderite in a shallow, concave, elongate vug of host ironstone rock. From Canadian collector Claude Begin, to the Cooks. Learn more about this Lazulite specimen here.
Magnificent, Cherry-Red Realgar on Calcite from Jiepaiyu Mine, Hunan, China
An eye-catching, sharp, lustrous, gemmy, cherry-red, prismatic, perfectly formed Realgar crystal sits isolated on a large crystal portion of off-white Calcite with dove-gray highlights around the edges. The contrast between the two and the superbly isolated Realgar makes for an ideal, well-composed specimen! This specimen was something Rob purchased for his personal collection from the sale of the F. John Barlow collection in 1999 and later sold to Bill and Anne Cook between 2001-2003. Note: Realgar should be stored out of light (such as in a closed opaque box) to preserve this gemmy, cherry red color. Learn more about this Realgar specimen here.
Beautiful, Hand-Picked Mango Quartz
In addition to the wonderful offerings from the Bill and Anne Cook Collections, we've also added a few other noteworthy updates this month! We are pleased to offer our first ever release of "Mango Quartz" featuring a fine selection of cherrypicked specimens from a direct source in Tucson 2023 of this fine material from Colombia! Mango Quartz (Quartz incl. by Halloysite) first hit the market in 2018. We have not yet offered it in part to evaluate context and value as more continue to come to market. We had an opportunity to meet a source at Tucson this year, and hand-select pieces from a group of over 2000 kg of specimens from December and January pockets that arrived to Tucson during the show. View the Mango Quartz Gallery available on iRocks.com.
As seen in our recent Wisdom Pocket blog updates, we also posted a fine selection of minerals and crystals from Peru, including rich green Fluorites, bright metallic Pyrites, deep red Rhodochrosite, intense blue Chrysocolla, and more. Read up on some of our favorites on our recent Peruvian Treasures blog, view this specimen below here, or view all available specimens from Peru here.
Looking for other specimens? Head to iRocks.com/browse to explore some of the available offerings we have, or send us an email at info@iRocks.com for assistance with custom sourcing a specimen for your mineral and crystal collection.
Apr 26, 2023
Between the recent Peruvian finds of saturated chrysocolla, deep green fluorite, and mirror-like pyrites, this region of the world is definitely experiencing a resurgence in interest from mineral collectors. We blended a combination crystals from newer finds and old classics (think old Peruvian rhodochrosites from the Jack Halpern collection, plus new chrysocolla specimens from Tentadora) to showcase a range of beautiful material from an assortment of Peruvian localities.
Bold green fluorites burst on the scene in the last few years, and at first glance one might think they were South African. Make no mistake, these rich green fluorites (often paired with pyrite) are contemporary finds from Peru. View more info on this piece, or explore other green fluorites from Peru.
Brilliant, Mirror-like Pyrites
Peru is renowned for its superb, sharply formed, bright metallic, brass-yellow Pyrites in a variety of crystal forms. We have several stunning mirror-bright and beautifully striated pyrites from Huanzala and Racracancha, handpicked by multigenerational Peruvian Dealers for their private collection (ex. Ramos Family). View more info on this piece, or explore other pyrites from Peru.
Rich Red Rhodochrosite
Rhodochrosite from Peru may not be in the spotlight as often as that from Colorado and South Africa but the good ones are definitely something to behold. We have a few older finds of cherry-red, sharp rhodochrosites available in recent postings from Peru (ex. Jack Halpern - added prestige!). View more info on this piece, or explore other rhodochrosites from Peru.
Chrysocolla: A relatively small find in the late 2010s at the Tentadora mine resulted in boldly-colored chrysocolla specimens coating sharp quartz crystals. In some instances, the blue chrysocolla acts as a quartz coating, and in others, bubbling botryoidal growths form in accent. View more info on this piece, or explore other chrysocolla with quartz from Peru.
Hubnerite: This sharp, angular quartz with dark, metallic hubnerite came out over a decade ago, and these well-formed crystals also are emplaced on a matrix of pale pink fluorite and surrounded by water-clear quartz. View more info on this piece, or explore other hubnerite combos from Peru.
Tetrahedrite: This tetrahedrite with quartz and pyrite is another sparkling combo from Peru, from Mundo Nuevo, which also produces world-class augelites. The gemmy quartzes reach over 4 inches in length, and the tetrahedrite stands out from the pyrite due to its slight bronzey-blue patina. View more info on this piece, or explore other tetrahedrite combos from Peru.
Looking for other specimens from Peru? Head to iRocks.com/browse to explore some of the available offerings we have, or send us an email at info@iRocks.com for assistance with custom-sourcing a specimen for your mineral and crystal collection.
Rice Museum of Rocks and Minerals Benefit Auction #2 Recap
Apr 20, 2023
The Arkenstone and MineralAuctions.com were honored to assist the Rice Museum of Rocks & Minerals (Portland, Oregon) in a second deaccession benefit auction, following our successful partnership hosting the 2022 Rice Museum Benefit Auction. The online auction concluded on April 8, 2023 and featured sixty lots of mineral specimens, gemstones, rare lapidary material, and objet d'art formerly in the Rice Family Collection. These purpose of the auctions was to aid in the deaccession of long-held duplications from the collection of founders Richard and Helen Rice. The core collection was built in the late 1900's and most of these items have never been seen outside of the museum, with a large portion never having been on display.
Several years ago, the Curator, in coordination with museum Founder Sharleen Harvey, embarked on a project to categorize the collection and identify redundant items from the Rice Family catalog (which was gifted as a whole when the Museum was formed in 1997). After the first phase of the project (specimen identification), it was shelved due to staffing levels and time availability.
For much of 2020 and 2021, the Museum operated at a diminished capacity or shuttered entirely. Museum staff used this downtime to focus on deferred projects, including property maintenance, refreshing galleries and exhibits, developing new marketing and educational materials, and collections management, which included a focus on responsible deaccessioning (the act of removing something from a collection).
As with most museums, only about 25% (or less) of our collection is on display at any one time. The specimens that were selected in coordination with the donor[s] were chosen because other similar, often more significant and more unique, are represented. Visitors will see no difference when touring our galleries, and the process has opened up valuable storage space for continued acquisitions.
This year at in Tucson, The Arkenstone and Dr. Rob Lavinsky were featured in an interview by Rachel Monroe of The New Yorker titled, "The Search for the Perfect Stone" published on February 21, 2023. We have included the first paragraph here. For the full article, please visit The New Yorker's website.
Business is booming, and bidding wars and backroom deals have taken over the wildly popular Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.
"For a few weeks every winter, Tucson briefly goes rock crazy. In 1955, local gem-and-mineral enthusiasts began hosting a get-together, an event that’s since become something much more commercial, and much more overwhelming. This year, there were forty shows throughout the city, each of them a mazelike complex of dozens or hundreds of venders, drawing tens of thousands of visitors in total. Browsing one afternoon, I saw available for purchase a bathtub made of quartz, a case of onyx obelisks, an uncut twenty-two-carat diamond, a pendant made from a meteorite, a fossilized dinosaur tooth, and a daunting number of beads. A ubiquitous ad on the radio had an even more tantalizing proposition: “Do you want to take a picture with a baby goat inside a giant geode?”"
Our Spring West Coast Road Show is coming up fast, and we've enjoyed our annual San Fran trips over the last decade. This year, we're adding LA to our list, too. We hope to see you for minerals and light bites.
Please make sure to let us know if you're looking for anything specific, so we can pack with you in mind! This is also a great opportunity for us to hand-deliver specimens to clients who might be interested in delicate species that might be concerning to ship, as well.
SAN FRANCISCO (Emeryville) April 29, 2023 9:30AM-3:30PM RSVP Here
LOS ANGELES (Monterey Park) May 1, 2023 6:00-9:00PM May 2, 2023 11AM-8:30PM RSVP Here