Tips for Buying Rare Rocks and Minerals Online

Dec 23, 2017

A major part of being a mineral collector is building relationships with vendors and hunting down the best specimens. Chances are you’ll want to grow your collection over time, and there are plenty of online vendors with vast collections to choose from. With so many options, how do you know which online vendors to focus on?

Here are a few tips to help you find a great online vendor:

Tip #1: Stay Informed About Your Specimens

Before deciding on a vendor, it’s important to have a clear idea about the rare rocks and minerals that you want to add to your collection. There are many species to choose from, each with unique properties, colors and luster that all work into its price.

If you’re unsure about what rare rocks and minerals you want to start your collection, look at complete exhibits and make a list of species that capture your interest. You’re likely to trade and upgrade your collection overtime, so feel free to experiment with your interest. For example, you may start your collection with a type of quartz crystal and move into rarer species months or years down the road.

Chinese minerals from Mount Xuebaoding in Sichuan Province often have a deep orange color. Gemmy clear quartz and muscovite accent an orange scheelite crystal.



Tip #2: Look at the Display

When shopping online, the best vendors will have a professionally taken photograph for each of their specimens. You’ll want to be weary of vendors who use generic photographs, as mineral colors can vary depending on lighting.

Take into consideration how the specimen will fit into your existing display space. If you’re using a glass cabinet, use the photograph provided as a reference to see if you like how well it sits with your collection.

Keep in mind that you’re free to ask the vendor for other photographs of the piece for sale. For example, crystalline structures can come in many shapes and clusters. Looking at the specimen from different angles can help you determine if it fits with your collection.

In fine mineral photography, it's often necessary to take many pictures in your quest to produce the best fine mineral photographs. Sometimes photos showing multiple angles of a specimen help determine if the piece is a right fit.


Tip #3: Be Intentional about Building Relationships with Vendors

After researching species and are settling on a budget, you’ll be more informed and comfortable shopping for your collection. You can shop from an online catalog, specialized vendors, a club’s collection or an exhibit.

Well-established vendors will have variety in the specimens available for you to choose from. When getting to know an online vendor, look for their archive of specimens and any published work. This will give you an idea of the types of species that they specialize in, helping you with price bargaining.

The key is to build relationships with these vendors. Over time, they’ll add new species to their collections and you’ll be on the shortlist of people to contact before specimens go on sale.

Tip #4: Look for Detailed Specimen Descriptions

The single most important feature in any online sale is a detailed description about the specimen. Information about a specimen's size, properties, condition, and origin should all be available to the customer.

For example, benitoite is a rare barium titanium silicate mineral that has grown in popularity for its deep blue, purplish colors. Authentic specimens of benitoite are only found in the mines of San Benito County, California. Knowing where a specimen comes from can have a major influence over its described authenticity and price.

Benitoite crystal from Dallas Gem Mine area in San Benito, California. Copyright The Arkenstone, Joe Budd Photo.


Tip #5: Know Where You’re Shipping From

Understand that rare rocks and minerals can get heavy and shipping prices can go up, depending on where it’s being shipped from. Keep in mind that exceptionally fragile specimens may find it more challenging to ship, and the vendor may recommend that you pick it up in person.

Some vendors will go to various mineral shows, showing their collections in exhibits and galleries. Keep track of vendors who are hitting the road and inquire about picking up your specimens along their travels. The Arkenstone is flexible with bringing specimens for delivery at shows in Denver, Tucson, Munich, and even China! Plus we host a semi-annual San Francisco Road Show.

There are many great online vendors that sell expansive collections of rare rocks and minerals. The hobby is also made of many close communities and clubs where rockhounds come together and talk about each other’s collections. Ask your fellow club members or rare rock and mineral collecting clubs about any vendors that they recommend.


Our favorite learning opportunity is the annual Dallas Mineral Collecting Symposium, sponsored by The Arkenstone and friends. The symposium will feature an expert speaker series about word-famous collections and also provide opportunities to mingle with top mineral dealers, collectors and enthusiasts.

Don’t forget to check our listings for our other shows. The Arkenstone is proud to offer specimens in many displays around the world.


Art Soregaroli: October 19, 2017

Oct 20, 2017

An introduction of Dr. Art Soregaroli's Fine Mineral CollectionWe learned with great sadness of the passing of Art Soregaroli on October 19, 2017. The Arkenstone acquired his collection several years ago, and he took a few moments to share some of his thoughts with us. They are shared here, below, along with a personal note from Peter Megaw.

"The mineral specimens you see here now have been liberated from my collection of the past 6+ decades, rescued from my favoured lair in the recesses of a Vancouver home sold and slated for demolition. This move has forced my hand to make the difficult decision to find new homes for these many precious friends I have spent a lifetime collecting.

From my early youth, collecting agates and arrowheads in rural Iowa quarries and stream beds, to kicking up rocks with pack mules in Idaho as a graduate student, to my doctoral work at the University of British Columbia in Canada (where I’ve made my home this past half-century), and throughout the career that followed in exploring the world for precious metals and commodities to mine, I’ve rarely met a specimen I didn’t like. And, as much as each specimen holds a special place in my heart, I suppose what I am most grateful for in having been captivated by this esoteric hobby is the people I have met who share my passion for minerals and geology, and the many friendships that have been forged at the rock-face, at the bargaining table, with the Mineralogical Record and at Tucson, and in peering through the glass of a display case.

So, now, as I continue my journey, I hope these specimens will continue theirs and bring joy and gratification to the ardent mineral collectors fortunate enough to make them their own."

-Dr. Art Soregaroli


"Sadly, Art passed away peacefully surrounded by family on October 19, 2017.  With his passing the mineral world lost a great geologist/mineral scientist, staunch friend and true gentleman - the outpouring of tributes from those whose lives he touched has been impressive.  His work getting the Pinch Collection to the Canadian Museum of Nature was mentioned by many, as was his work with the Brittania Mine mining museum near his home in British Columbia, and his manifold contributions to mineral symposia...especially the Pacific Northwest FM Symposium that closed just 2 days before his passing. Jodi Fabre noted that Art was single-handedly responsible for guiding the famous Panasquiera Mine in Portugal back into the black so that could not only thrive as a metals mine, but continue to produce quantities of excellent specimens to this day.

Those who wish to express condolences to the family can do so to his beloved wife Rosalie  She will share them with daughter Carla, son and daughter in law Brian and Michelle and the grandchildren he doted on so fondly.

Those who wish to honor his memory can do so by visiting/supporting the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Brittania Mine Museum or attending next year's Pacific Northwest FM Symposium.  Adding a specimen from Panasquiera to your collection would work too!"

- Dr. Peter Megaw


Peter Megaw's original tribute (published in 2015) is available here.

Have stories about Art that you'd like to share? E-mail them to, and we will happily add them here.


View Art Soregaroli's Collection

How to Grow a Valuable Mineral Collection

Sep 9, 2017

Collecting rare rocks and minerals is like jumping into a time machine that lets you look back at the journey of Earth. Under high heat, pressure, and the watchful eye of time, rare rocks and minerals are born with an array of unique qualities that make the hobby exciting. Although massive collections are extraordinary things to look it, they can also come with a lot of work.

A spectacular case of fine minerals, gems, and jewelry from The Arkenstone at a private gallery show.

Whether you’re new to the hobby or a seasoned rockhound, it’s a great idea to plan the direction of your collection. Planning your collection will help you stay organized and maintain its value as you take on new specimens. As members of the rare rock and mineral collecting community, we’re always glad to offer insightful information about expanding the value of your collection.

Find What Interests You

The key to building a valuable collection is understanding the qualities about rare rock and mineral collecting that interests you. Take advantage of the many online publications and open field guides available to learn more about the types of rocks and minerals available. Are you collecting specimens of a specific family? Perhaps you want to focus your collection on origin or know a gemologist whose work you’d like to follow? Here are some publications to consider when doing research:

Custom engraved bases by The Arkenstone,, are one of the most important ways to boost the display beauty of your fine minerals. Fine minerals not only benefit from well-lit cases. Having the appropriate bases can help orient your specimens well, and they are much safer!

Dedicate a Space for Your Collection

Find a comfortable space in your home to show off your collection. Keep in mind that some rare rocks and minerals are reactive to sunlight and moisture. For example, some specimens of photochromic crystals like Kunzite permanently lose their deep pink color when exposed to too much sunlight.

You may want to consider investing in a front-window cabinet or display case to protect your specimens. Rare rocks and minerals like SulfurEttringite, and Dioptase are fragile and can break if dropped or mishandled. By keeping them in a cabinet or display case, your collection will be safe in homes with small children and pets.

Know What to Look for On a Hunt

As your collection grows, you’ll want to start trading and selling less valuable rocks and minerals for rarer specimens. If you’re new to collecting, it’s likely that you have pieces of damaged crystals, rocks or gems. It can be difficult to spot damaged specimens early in your collection, but as you learn more curating and build relationships with dealers, you’ll gradually add more value to your collection.

More experienced collectors will want to find better quality specimens to replace less valuable ones in their collection. Some of the criteria that collectors use in evaluating the value of a specimen are:

  • Size and Color
  • Rarity
  • Associated Minerals
  • Luster and Transparency
  • Damage and Repairs
  • Locality, History and Provenance

Before you invest in a specimen, you’ll want to make sure that you have documentation of its locality, as the country and mine can be significant in determining value. There are many specimens in circulation that are poorly documented, so they might not be appreciated for provenance as much as they deserve.

Join a Community and Visit Collections

Collecting is more fun with a group of enthusiastic rockhounds. Consider joining a collector club for access to field trips, newsletters, socials and professional services. Most collector clubs visit mineral shows, symposiums, auctions and rare exhibits together to learn more about other collections.

The Arkenstone participates in mineral shows around the world, and we also are the founding sponsor of the Dallas Mineral Collecting Symposium. The annual symposium held each August features world-renowned speakers to share their latest collections and experiences in the field.

Don’t forget to check our listings for our shows. We’d love to meet with you and talk about the various collections!

5 Favorite Rare Minerals

Aug 23, 2017

Collecting rare minerals is a passion that requires a lot of patience. Many specimens have journeys that last millions of years until a brave explorer takes the plunge and unearths their beauty. While all minerals are precious, there are a few that stand a cut above the rest in rarity, history and value. Here’s a list of 5 of our favorite rarest minerals.


Found exclusively in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, the Tanzanite is one of the rarest minerals on Earth. In fact, it carries the saying, “1,000 times rarer than the Diamond”, to signify its limited supply. The Tanzanite’s history is young as it received its name from New York jeweler Tiffany & Co. in 1968.[1]

The formation of the Tanzanite crystal started roughly 600 million years ago as Mount Kilimanjaro erupted and created the unique conditions needed to form the crystals deep within the Earth. Starting at a brownish hue, the gorgeous blue-violet colors of the Tanzanite can be seen after the small amounts of the Vanadium impurities are heated and oxidized.


Blue Tanzanite Crystal. Copyright The Arkenstone, Joe Budd Photo Tanzanite from the Merelani Hills of Tanzania. Copyright The Arkenstone, Joe Budd Photo.


First discovered in 1907 near the headwaters of the San Benito river, the Benitoite is a blue-violet mineral whose gemstones are rarely found over 1-carot.[2] Found exclusively in California, Benitoite became the State’s official gemstone in 1985.[3]

The Benitoite is also known as the “blue diamond”, holding a sapphire blue color due to its small amounts of iron. However, rare specimens of Benitoite can come in an array of colors when exposed to UV light. Some Benitoite crystals will appear as a reddish color when shown under a long wave UV light with slight dispersions of green.

Benitoite crystal from Dallas Gem Mine area in San Benito, California. Copyright The Arkenstone, Joe Budd Photo.


Named after the Russian Czar Alexander II (1818 – 1881), the first Alexandrite crystals where discovered near the Tokovaya River of the Urals in 1834.[4] According to legend, Alexandrite was found on the day that Alexander II came of age to become the future Czar. With the crystals shining red and green, Alexandrite became a national favorite of imperial Russia.[5]

Alexandrite is known for its optical ability to suddenly change color under the faintest of light. Under daylight, the gemstones shine a deep greenish blue color, but under incandescent light it turns into a soft purplish-red color.

Color-change alexandrite from Zimbabwe Alexandrite shows different coloring under different light. Copyright The Arkenstone, Joe Budd Photos



First discovered in the Mogok region of Myanmar (Burma) in 1951, the Painite was named after British gemologist Arthur Charles Davy Pain.[6] The Painite was once regarded as the rarest mineral on Earth with only 2 faceted gemstones found until mid-2005.[7] Although a few hundred crystals and pieces have been found to-date, nearly complete and facet crystals are extremely rare.

A few complete Painite gemstones that where found varied between brown to red-pink. It’s highly pleochroic, changing hues depending on the angle that you’re viewing it from.

Rare painite from Mogok, Burma (Myanmar). Painite is difficult to find in nature, especially with the delicate ruby association seen here. Copyright The Arkenstone,

Red Beryl

The Red Beryl, also known as the Bixbite, “Red Emerald” and “Scarlet Emerald”, is found in a few locations within the Thomas Range and the Wah Wah Mountains of Utah.[8] It was first discovered in 1904 and since then few quantities of Red Beryl have been large enough to form a gem.[9] This is because Beryllium rarely occurs in large enough quantities to produce the red coloring, making the Red Beryl incredibly rare.

The conditions needed to make the Red Beryl occurred around a hundred million years ago during the formation of the Rocky Mountains. Volcanic activity and Beryllium-rich gases created porous pockets of low pressure and high temperature, allowing the red coloring in the Beryl to settle.

Red Beryl var Bixbite (also called red emerald) from Wah Wah, Utah Red Beryls are extremely rare, and the important find in Utah has been closed for decades.



Since the mid-1990s, the Arkenstone has been a pioneer of the online mineral world, expanding the breadth of this hobby that we love worldwide. Grow your collection of rare and exotic minerals by exploring our online collection at iRocks! Click here to start your search or explore new collections in our Galleries.


[1] “Tiffany Colored Gemstones”. Tiffany & Co.

[2] “California State Gemstone”. State Symbols USA.

[3] Ibid.

[4] “Biography of Dr. Peter Bancroft”. Palagems.

[5] Ibid.

[6] “Painite Visible Spectra (380 – 1100 nm)”. California Institute of Technology.


[8] “Utah Gemstone Mining”. Geology.

[9] Ibid.

Opals: Stones of Many Colors

Aug 18, 2017

If there was a stone whose physical properties inspired magic, it’s likely to be a fine Opal. With the ability to reflect an impressive array of colors, it was thought that the Opal trapped fire and lightning. Today, the Opal is one of the most popular stones amongst rockhounds, jewelers, and historians.

Ethiopian opal with extreme color flash. Opal from Ethiopia weighing in at 88cts. Joe Budd Photo

Unlocking the Mystery of Opals

Opal is a gem quality stone with the ability to intensely reflect an array of colors. They’re formed when silicon-dioxide enriched water, otherwise known as silica, permeates through the cracks of sedimentary rock. When the water-solution evaporates, the silica is left behind to gel and form an Opal stone.

Hyalite Opal, like this specimen from Hungary, shows shocking fluorescence under UV lighting!

Unlike any other species of rare rock, the Opal can display all the colors on a rainbow spectrum through a series of “moving” patterns. The most common colors shone are red, green, blue, and yellow with other color blends like pink and purple.

These colors are reflected by the diffraction of light entering the specimen, similar to the effect of a prism. The silica found within the Opal settle and layer randomly with many gaps in between. This allows white light to enter in an irregular array, diffracting and reflecting a different color.

The ability to reflect an array of colors is one of the rock qualities most sought after by great civilizations throughout history. The gorgeous display of reds, greens, and blues were thought to contain protective and medicinal properties, commanding a great value from jewelers and royalty.

The Opal: History’s Precious Stone

The Opal is one of the few precious stones whose origins trace back through several ancient civilizations. The name “Opal” derives from many world languages like the Sanskrit word, “Upala”, which translates to “precious stone”.[1] The name also has origins in the Latin word “Opalus” and the Greek word “Opallios”, both directly translating to “to witness a color change”.[2]

These earrings feature four opals accented by garnets and diamonds. From the Cora Miller Collection.

(Photo by Harold Moritz, courtesy of Yale Peabody Museum)



Historians trace the discovery of the Opal stone as far back as the Bronze Age. The Ancient Egyptians and Babylonians created protective talismans from Opals.[3] However, it wasn’t until the peak of the Roman Empire where Opals began circulation in markets with a value as high as Emerald stones. Opal stones were coveted by the Ancient Romans for their ability to shift colors at certain angles of light.[4]

According to an Ancient Roman legend, a wealthy Roman senator named Nonius owned a particularly fine Opal. The stone was rumored to have been as large as a hazelnut and valued at 2,000,000 sesterces.[5] Mark Antony, the ruler of Ancient Rome, heard of the stone and thought it would make the perfect gift for Queen Cleopatra of Egypt.

When the senator was approached about the stone, he refused to sell and fled Rome. This event led to Opals earning their prestige and value in the market through the modern era.

These very rare opal-replaced fossil shells were formed 135 million years ago and are unique to Australia. The supply at this famous locality, where the town of Coober Pedy is actually dug into the formation, has been exhausted as mining here is no longer profitable or commercially successful on any scale. Opal replacement of clam fossil from Coober Pedy, Australia

Australian Opals

Of the Opals mined, 95% come from Australia.[6] Other Opal producing countries include Mexico, Brazil, Ethiopia, and the United States.

Millions of years ago, the continent of Australia was covered by a massive inland sea that flushed silica enriched water into its sedimentary rock. Overtime, this silica enriched water would gel and form Opal stones throughout the continent.

In the early 1890s at the White Cliff mines, the first prospectors discovered pockets of fine Opal stone. Production of fine Opal at the White Cliff mines peaked in 1902 when 140,000 pounds of fine opal were mined and sold.[7] Other Australian mines like the Lightning Ridge and Coober Pedy were also found to contain fields of Opal stone. These discoveries cemented Australia as the leading producer of Opal stone around the world.


Opals have a fascinating history, and they continue to be a very popular precious stone. See our expansive collection of Opal stones and other rare rocks on our website! We’ve recently updated our galleries with many impressive specimens from around the world. You can find our latest collections here.

Also, don’t miss our listings for our rare rock and mineral shows. We’d love to meet with you and talk about the specimens in our collections!

[1] Gordon A, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Bureau of Mines (Michigan: U.S. Department of the Interior, 1995), 19.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Lani S, Crystal Alchemy (Indiana: Xlibris Corporation, 2016), 192.

[4] “Opal History and Lore”. Gemology Institute of America Inc.

[5] Allan E, The World of Opals (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 1997), 58.

[6] Karen F. Atlas of Australia (International: Capstone Classroom, 2008), 24.

[7] “A Brief History of White Cliffs”. White Cliffs Opal.

From Rough to Refined: Exploring Gemstone Collections

Aug 13, 2017

While most gemstone buyers are seeking rough crystals in bulk, there are some rock and mineral enthusiasts who are simply interested in building a collection of beautiful stones. And, while we generally think of gems as the sparkling, finished stones displayed in fine jewelry, even rough crystals are often mesmerizing – each an amazing individual display of nature's fine craftsmanship.

From skillfully cut, jewel-quality gems, to rough crystal – one can find all kinds of material on the market. The question is, what makes a gemstone collection truly amazing?

Rough and cut aquamarine crystal. Joe Budd Photo.

As with all collectable items, the answer is somewhat subjective. What makes a collection really valuable is not necessarily it's cost, or the market value of the stones displayed – it is simply the level of interest it generates. And since, in this case, beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder – the door is wide open for building an amazing gemstone collection.

One of the special attractions of gemstones is that there are so many options for building an amazing collection. We've outlined a few ideas, here.

·      Collecting by color. One approach to collecting is to choose a particular color, and gather any high-quality rough crystals or gemstone specimens which most accurately represent that shade or hue. This allows the collector to showcase a wide array of species and varietals, while still maintaining a sense of cohesion between pieces.

·      Gathering the rainbow. Popular among collectors of both rough crystals and finished stones, the goal is to create a collection which features the full spectrum of shades and hues. This can create a stunning aesthetic when the collection is displayed in its entirety – mimicking a beautiful rainbow of color. It is also an effective way to highlight the beauty of gems and minerals which occur in a wide range of hues. A collection of beryls would create an amazing array for this type of collection.

·      Highlighting rarity. While most gemstones are considered valuable to some extent, there are certain varieties which are prized for their extreme rarity and beauty. A rare gems collection can be challenging to assemble initially – but the challenge of locating suitable specimens only adds to its inherent value, attraction, and intrinsic interest.

·      Celebrating diversity. Some collectors prefer to pursue one particular species or varietal, highlighting the similarities and differences occurring in rough crystals or cut specimens of the same type – especially those which are discovered in varying localities.

This collecting focus can be great for delving in-depth into the qualities or aesthetic features of a particular mineral or stone, and showcasing the beauty of its natural diversity. Tourmaline would be an excellent stone for this type of collection, as it exhibits stunning variation of color and feature, depending its area of origination – as would a collection of garnets.

  • Shape and cut. An in-depth examination of the different cutting styles and shapes of gemstones over time would make an interesting and educational historic collection – and can reveal some unusual insight into the presentation of various gems, and their use as jewelry or personal adornment.
  • Rough and cut collections. One of our favorite ways to emphasize the true beauty of gemstones, a “rough and cut” collection features both a rough crystal and cut stone for each specimen type. This allows the viewer to see both the raw, natural beauty of the uncut stone, and the brilliant, sparkling finished result – creating a gorgeously balanced, aesthetic display. (Really – the best of both worlds!)
This rare combo of rough danburite crystal and cut stone from Mexico shows the beauty of natural crystals and gem.

Whether your preference for collecting is broad or in-depth, specific to a particular species, locale, varietal, or color – the possibilities for defining your area of interest are limited only by your imagination. And, while some gemstones and rough crystals can be extraordinarily expensive, building an attractive gem collection need not require an enormous budget – simply a dedication to discovering and seeking out those specimens which add value and interest to your personal focus.

At the Arkenstone, we're big fans of celebrating the natural beauty of rocks and minerals – which means we often find a great deal of pleasure in examining rough crystals and stones. We also appreciate the contrast and insight offered by displaying rough and finished stones side by side. If you're interested in exploring this wonderful aesthetic, take a look at our current collection of cut and rough crystals – we know you won't be disappointed in these fine gemstone sets!

Video: How Big, Beautiful Crystals Form by Dr. John Rakovan

Aug 8, 2017

Dr. John Rakovan

Dr. John Rakovan, crystallography expert at the University of Miami, Ohio, speaks at the 2016 Dallas Mineral Collecting SymposiumIn 2016, Dr. John Rakovan participated as one of our speakers at the Dallas Mineral Collecting Symposium, and the topics covered in his talk are ones we regularly address here at The Arkenstone.

How do crystals form with such geometric shapes? Why do some crystals get big, while others stay small? What controls the different crystal shapes that are formed naturally?

If you've ever thought about some of these questions, we hope you'll find Dr. Rakovan's talk to be informative.

Dr. John Rakovan is a professor of mineralogy at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. John received his Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1996 and spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at Virginia Tech before starting at Miami. He has broad research interests including crystal growth, structural and morphologic crystallography, mineral-water interface geochemistry, and mineral deposit formation. Much of his work falls into the broad area of environmental mineralogy. He is a fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America (MSA) and has served the MSA and other societies (e.g., the International Mineralogical Association) in many capacities including the subcommittee on apatite-group nomenclature. John has been a mineral collector for more than forty years with particular interests in apatite, minerals from Japan, and specimens with interesting mineralogical characteristics (i.e. twinning, epitaxy, etc.). He has been an executive editor of and regular contributor to Rocks & Minerals magazine since 2001. In 2010, the decavanadate mineral rakovanite, discovered by Joe Marty in the Sunday Mine, Colorado, was named in his honor.

The Dallas Symposium is lucky to have BlueCap Productions on hand each year to provide valuable videography services. If you love learning about fine minerals, check out their Video OnDemand options to view previous videos of the Dallas Symposium, the popular What's Hot in Tucson/Munich/Sainte Marie series, and several other popular mineral productions. Prefer hard copies? DVDs are for sale here.

Logo of BlueCap Productions,



2017 Dallas Symposium – This Year’s Collection of World-Class Lectures and Speakers

Aug 5, 2017

The 2017 Dallas Mineral Collecting Symposium is a unique annual event that brings together mineral enthusiasts and experts from around the world to review the latest and greatest findings, collections, and forerunners in rare minerals. This year, the Dallas Symposium starts August 25th – 27th at the Eisemann Performing Arts Center and promises to bring forth the most exciting lineup of scholars, collectors and adventurers! Some of the lecturers presenting at the 2017 Dallas Symposium are:


John Cornish – Australian Crocoite Mining

Orange crocoite is extremely delicate and fragile John Cornish in the Adelaide mine. Photo courtesy of J. Cornish.

An expert in all things crystalline and paleontological, John Cornish is respected for his contributions to field collecting. John is affiliated with several specimen mining properties in the western United States with many of his discoveries displayed in premier institutions and collections around the world. Currently, John is working on chronicling this 20+ year pursuit of mineral and fossil localities.

At the 2017 Dallas Symposium, John will share some of his adventures of successfully mining crocoite in Australia’s Adelaide Mine. His lecture will be accompanied be accompanied by a colorful and story-rich presentation, highlighting many of his historic findings and experiences in field collecting. (Check his blog series here that he allowed us to publish!)


Bruce Bridges – The Tsavorite Mine

Backlit Tsavorite Crystal, Copyright Bridges Tsavorite

As a third-generation gemstone miner and dealer in Africa, Bruce Bridges is making his name known throughout the rare mineral world as the President of Bridges Tsavorite company. His father, Campbell Bridges, was the discoverer of Tsavorite and was the first to bring Tanzanite to the United States for Identification. Today, the family business maintains its fully integrated operation, from mining to sales of rare and valuable minerals.

Bruce Bridges will give a rare first-hand account of the history of Tsavorite and the life of his father. The Bridges family’s expertise in geology and business have allowed them to pursue some of the rarest stones of East Africa. In addition to these adventures, Bruce will discuss the development of the famous Scorpion Mine and the growth of the Tsavorite mining industry in Kenya. Read more about the Bridges family at


Richard Hughes – The Secret World of Ruby & Sapphire

Designed as a companion to Ruby & Sapphire: A Collector's Guide, this massive volume is aimed specifically at working gemologists, appraisers and students. Based on Richard W. Hughes' 1997 classic, Ruby & Sapphire, this edition is fully updated. The product of nearly 40 years of firsthand experience and research, it covers every aspect of the subject from A–Z. History, sources, prices, quality analysis, synthetics and treatments, everything is here. With over 1000 photos, maps and illustrations and 3500 references, Ruby & Sapphire—A Gemologist’s Guide represents the most comprehensive book ever written on a single precious stone. Ruby & Sapphire • A Gemologist's Guide by Richard Hughes, a speaker at this year's Dallas Symposium

One of the world’s leading experts on rubies and sapphires, Richard Hughes has spent a lengthy career authoring several books and over 160 articles on gems and gemology. Over the years, Richard has received many industry awards.

Some of his most notable awards include the 2004 Edward J. Gübelin Most Valuable Article Award from Gems & Gemology magazine, the Richard T. Liddicoat Journalism Award from the American Gem Society, and the 2010 Antonio C. Bonanno Award for Excellence in Gemology from the Accredited Gemologists Association. Richard’s latest book titled, Ruby & Sapphire: A Gemologist’s Guide (2017) is his most comprehensive volume of work on rubies and sapphires to-date.

Attendees of the 2017 Dallas Symposium will have the special treat of hearing Richard Hughes uncloak the mysteries surrounding fine corundum specimens. Richard’s lecture will discuss the links between the mineral, their deep connection to human history, and their impact on life itself. Learn more about Lotus Gemology here.


These are only three of the speakers who will be sharing their expertise at the Dallas Mineral Collecting Symposium. If you're looking to learn about minerals, crystals, and gems, you don’t want to miss this year’s Dallas Mineral Collecting Symposium at the Eisemann Center, as experts, scholars, and adventurers from around the world come to share their latest and greatest findings! Registration for the symposium is open now and throughout the event. A Full Symposium Ticket includes all of the events listed above, including the open house cocktail party at The Arkenstone, Saturday’s lectures, lunch, benefit auction and banquet, and passes to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

2017 Dallas Mineral Collecting Symposium

Aug 4, 2017

Dallas Mineral Collecting SymposiumIt’s that time of year where rare mineral enthusiasts pack their bags and make their way to Dallas, Texas for the annual Dallas Mineral Collecting Symposium. This year, the 2017 Dallas Symposium starts August 25th – 28th at the Eisemann Performing Arts Center with this year’s event promising to be more exciting with larger events for experienced collectors and newcomers alike.

The 2017 Symposium will have several activities throughout the event, including an all-inclusive Saturday event, exhibits from your favorite collectors, and world-famous guest speakers, sharing their rare mineral discoveries and research. Speakers and their topics at the Symposium include:

Friday, August 25th, 2017

Full Symposium tickets to the Symposium comes with complimentary passes to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, so if you come in town early, take advantage of the opportunity to visit one of Dallas's most important museums. The museum has five floors with 11 permanent exhibit halls, state-of-the-art video and 3D rendered animations, simulators and more. Don’t forget to stop by the museum’s expansive mineralogy and geology exhibits, hosting over 100,000 specimens.

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

The Symposium takes off with a full-day of lectures and Texas barbecue for lunch! After the day’s lectures, we invite attendees to enjoy a relaxing social cocktail hour, dinner banquet, and benefit auction. It’s the perfect opportunity to meet and speak with the lecturers and fine mineral collecting community – make new friends and catch up with old. If you have a +1 who would like to attend the evening event, social guest tickets will be available.

The lectures and lunch will all be held at the Eisemann Center, across the Renaissance Hotel. For information on booking your stay at the Renaissance Hotel, click here.

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

The Arkenstone Gallery invites you for coffee, bagels, and camaraderie with the mineral collecting community! The gallery will be open from 9AM-1PM, offering a relaxing opportunity to examine rare and exclusive pieces or purchase new ones for your personal collection. There will be smaller events held throughout the evening that are invitation only.

Monday, August 28th, 2017

If you're staying in Dallas a bit longer, this will also be the last day your Perot Museum of Nature and Science pass will allow you in for free. Don’t forget to partake in the museum’s many exhibitions and exclusive rare mineral and science collections.


We hope you’ll join us at this year’s Dallas Mineral Collecting Symposium at the Eisemann Center! Registration for the symposium is open, but we only have a short time before the symposium events begin. A Full Symposium Ticket includes all of the events listed above, including the open house community meeting at The Arkenstone, Saturday’s lectures, lunch, benefit banquet and action, and passes to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.


Buying Rocks and Minerals Online

Aug 4, 2017

When Dr. Rob Lavinsky founded in the mid-1990's, it was simply an extension of The Arkenstone – the rock and mineral business he had been running since he was a young teenager. The site was the first of its kind, and quickly proved itself useful to collectors and enthusiasts worldwide.

Since then, iRocks has set the world standard for collecting rocks and minerals online – and we're here, today, to offer some smart guidelines for building your collection online.

The Arkenstone's Jeff Starr has a soft spot for fluorite, like this specimen from Erongo, Namibia in his collection.

Get specific. The internet is endless, so narrow your focus to the specimens which truly interest you. Whether you are focused on a specific species or locality, by narrowing the categories of your search, you'll receive a more manageable number of hits, and save yourself the time and effort of perusing specimens with low appeal to your collection. Not sure where to start looking? Check the themed galleries on iRocks for ideas on different areas to focus your collection! Here at The Arkenstone, we help collectors who have a wide range of collection themes; employee Jeff Starr focuses on fluorites (with some extra special outliers), while gallery manager Kevin Brown has an affinity for American minerals. Is blue your favorite color? Consider starting a collection of blue crystals!

Do your homework. Use the power of the internet to research rocks and minerals online. Mindat is an excellent resource for exploring, and can provide insight into interesting properties and localities, as well as providing extensive images of most known minerals.

Pay attention to provided photos. The best listings will feature several high-quality images, so you can view the specimen from all sides. The more detailed images provided, the better you'll be able to assess the quality and appearance of rocks and minerals online, and decide if each specimen meets your expectations. Take note of items included in images which might provide clues as to size and color, and ensure your monitor is properly calibrated to reflect color accurately.

In fine mineral photography, it's often necessary to take many pictures in your quest to produce the best fine mineral photographs. Multiple photos of this specimen from different angles help viewers learn more about the crystal.

Read the descriptions closely. The best listings will include accurate and informative descriptions, including any important historical notes or relevant details. At the very least, EVERY listing should include the mineral name, locality or origin of the piece, and size – as well as noting any damage or negative features. If you have questions which are not answered by the images or descriptions, contact the seller, and allow them the opportunity to address your concerns before bidding for rocks and minerals online.

Beware of forgeries and fakes. While the vast majority of auctioned rocks and minerals online are authentic, occasional trickery has been known to occur – generally in the form of man-made or “enhanced” specimens. Protect yourself from fraud by purchasing from well-known and established dealers and auction houses, and by educating yourself on identification of frauds and fakes. If a specimen has been repaired, potential customers should be warned upfront!

Verify the seller's reputation. Reputable dealers stick around! Reviews for those who consistently offer high-quality rocks and minerals online can easily be located – they have buyers who will attest to their integrity, the quality of their service and merchandise, and their commitment to customer satisfaction. If you are unsure if a seller is legitimate, ask around – your collector colleagues and contacts will be sure to lend some insight.

Read the policies and procedures. Before participating in an auction, or purchasing rocks and minerals online, review the seller’s policies and procedures to be sure you understand them, and that they're consistent with your expectations and needs. Pay close attention to return policies, and seek sellers who offer reasonable terms for requesting a refund. (As a side note – you should expect to absorb any costs for return shipping and handling, should circumstances require it.)

Account for shipping and postage. Shipping and handling costs can vary drastically, depending on the size and weight of each specimen and the distance of delivery. Pay attention to these charges when calculating the final cost of your purchases – and you'll avoid any costly surprises! If a shipping calculator is not provided, ask for an estimate of postage charges before confirming your sale – and avoid any sellers who do not respond, or provide a specific window for delivery.

For more information regarding collecting rocks and minerals online, check out our other informative articles – or contact the experts at iRocks, today!