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Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location

Posted by Anonymous User  
Re: Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location
April 22, 2007 11:04PM
I only just found this thread and can't believe it really got started. If you want labels and accurate provenance why would you buy from someone who couldn't offer them? Having sold thousands of specimens on ebay and with my 100 percent positive feedback still intact I'm well aware that there are many different markets for minerals out there. Some people like pretty things, some go for the supposed metaphysical properties and some are obsessive about detail. If I collected it myself I know exactly where it came from, otherwise I rely on what I'm told by whoever I bought it from. Some of my listings are precise, some are vague. You pays your money and you takes your choice.
Please give me your comments. I started buying specimens on ebay about 4 months ago and have since stopped buying. I have been collecting minerals for about forty years and have a collection of about 1,000 specimens, of average to super quality. I collect mostly miniatures to small cabinet sized pieces. I had good experiences with several dealers and they should be commended: Scepterguy and Amethyst Lady, thank you.

Here are the problems I see with ebay:

The specimens look a lot worse in person than they do in the photos. One guy stated, in the description that the specimen looked a lot better in person, he lied.

Specimen size and crystal size are exaggerated. some guys measure across the specimen from opposite corner to opposite corner. This is accurate if the specimen is cubic in shape, however, if it is rectagular the measurements are inaccurate. Measure a 3 by 5 card from opposite corner to opposite corner and you get a measurement of 6 by 6 inches. I challenged two guys on this and they told me I was wrong even though I had the misrepresented specimens in my possession. One guy told me the specimen had crystals to 8mm. I searched all over that specimen and could not find one crystal over 2mm. I guess the 8mm crystal evaporated during shipping.

Localities are misrepresented. Some contemporary specimens are palmed off as coming from classic localities. If I see another Chinese pyromorphite being labeled as Phoenixville or Roughten Gill I will scream. There is a lot of junk being offered. If you are going to state that pyrite came from Elba, there had better be some hematite attached to the crystal.

Generally, there is too much misrepresentation on Ebay to get me to waste anymore time bidding.

I have had good success on auctions being run by dealers on their own websites
and will continue to bid on those auctions. Of course, I will occasionally go back to my favorite dealers ( two or three) on ebay and check out their inventory.
Re: Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location
April 23, 2007 03:28AM
Hi Joe

The only way you can avoid the problems you've described is to only buy from dealers you know and trust: I think this holds true for any type of on-line or mail order operation. If you don't know who you are dealing with you can't know what you'll get until it arrives.

Needless to say, if someone takes a chance and is disappointed - especially AFTER a dealer has failed to address complaints - its time to move along...

Wouldn't it be great if there was a website dedicated to listing "vouched for" dealers?


Re: Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location
April 23, 2007 03:34AM
Hi Joe I agree, you really have to be careful on ebay. However, I do want to correct one thing you said. I am a pyrite collector for 30 years and pyrite from Elba does not have to have hematite although many of them do. There were a number of individual xls found in a greenish clay that do not have hematite. If you look at the recent publication on Elba (Extra Lapis, English edition) you can see other pyrites without hematite. Al
avatar Re: Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location
April 23, 2007 03:37AM
you could always just buy them from a reputable dealer. I have never had a problem on ebay and i've made many purchases.
Anonymous User
Re: Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location
April 23, 2007 03:47AM

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/02/2007 02:57PM by Craig Mercer.
avatar Re: Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location
April 23, 2007 11:46PM

Please try to be more polite on this messageboard.

Re: Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location
April 24, 2007 08:56AM
One interesting matter that has been over looked in this thread; is that some buyers because of Customs legalities in their particular country, prefer that no label or identification be sent with their mineral purchases. I have one buyer in Brazil who clearly states to me that he wants no labelling with any mineral or gem item. If he purchases a rough tourmaline from me and it is labelled, it is thewn considered by Brazilian Cumstoms to be a gem, and the tax he must pay to clear it through cumstoms is significantly high; a $20 buy on e-bay suddenly becomes a $60 buy because of the duty he has to pay. I am also noting that there are now buyers, particular in the Europe and the UK, who do not want any label sent with their item. As Dr Rob Lavinsky does, he sends labels separately from the item itself to avoid such concerns. We must all educate ourselves when dealing with folk in other lands; that their laws may be rather different from our own.
Re: Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location
April 25, 2007 10:00AM
what a funny thread ! Nonsense !
Dealers can't always be sure of the location, that's a fact, as they often rely (beside their own experience of course) on their providers whose knowledge is not always encyclopedic. When I go restocking in Pakistan, I can be given different origin for a same material, from one seller to another. I remember about an Afghan Amethyst lots who was claimed as being from Kandahar, then from Bamyan, until I recently saw a specimen on sale labelled as from Badakhshan. So what ? who's to be believed ?
I've seen several times mislabelling in high end websites for Afghan or Pakistan minerals. So yeah, don't bash on ebay sellers, because even the best and most respected ones can make mistakes.

This label thing... a name and location written on a tiny piece of paper is not always proof of origin (seller can be given unaccurate data by his provider). The garantee to know what one buys comes from ones experience, bas.
I don't ask for label whenI buy on ebay, but would I need them, I would just print my owns...

Cheers !

Anonymous User
Re: Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location
April 25, 2007 11:11AM

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/02/2007 02:57PM by Craig Mercer.
avatar Re: Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location
April 25, 2007 12:18PM
Again, Craig.

Buying on ebay is NOT the same as buying from from a reputable dealer (of course, there are many reputable dealers selling on ebay - but that's not the point).

Ebay has allowed anyone to set themselves up to be mineral dealers - and many people with little or no serious knowledge about minerals are selling stuff without being able to give the backup information to customers that they deserve. It's not the fault of ebay, it's simply an inevitable consequence of the fact that ebay makes it easy for anyone to sell.

When shopping for anything on ebay or other auction sites you really need to be aware about what you're buying. If the description says it comes with a label and it doesn't then that's fraud - otherwise it's just the way things work on ebay. If you don't like it, don't buy.

Anonymous User
Re: Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location
April 25, 2007 12:56PM

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/02/2007 02:56PM by Craig Mercer.
avatar Re: Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location
April 25, 2007 01:12PM
I'm having difficulty understanding why anyone would get exercised over labels. I've purchased countless specimens on eBay and now have a pile of labels lying uselessly in a seems to me that most dealers treat them as an opportunity to put their name, email, and web address on them, as advertising. I maintain a database of my specimens and print my own labels as needed, e.g., when I off-load stuff at a local show. I have been selling petrological specimens for some weeks now and my customers are grateful when I can provide a lat-long, air photo, or published report on the locality. Not once has anyone asked me for a label. When I purchase minerals on eBay, I am generally careful to be sure that the locale is specified. My experience....dealers who take crummy photos of their specimens, are the least trustworthy in all respects. If they take pride in what they do, it shows in their listings.

Anonymous User
Re: Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location
April 25, 2007 01:23PM

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/02/2007 02:55PM by Craig Mercer.
Re: Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location
April 25, 2007 05:23PM
Hello All,

Most of us with a lot of experience in minerals know some of the problems with labeling and "ghost localities" given to protect the real location from exploitation or protect a source from anyone else finding it. I have bought many specimens through the years that fall into this category. Just look at the thread about cactus amethyst from Magaliesberg here on this forum. I think that is a bit different than slapping locality information on an unknown specimen because it looks like other specimens from the given locality. Still, both are innaccurate and accuracy in labeling should be a goal we all strive for. Then there is the practice of claiming a piece came from a location because specimens from the listed location are more valuable. When done knowingly, this practice really is fradulent as it is done to increase the selling price of a less valuable specimen.

Seperating ebay out from other sources probably isn't very fair to those on ebay trying to make an honest living or bring in some extra income. Many are very fair and honest. Just like any other marketplace, you have unscrupulous dealers and fair dealers. Ebay is just a very big marketplace where you can view a lot of dealers in a very short time. Some of the more dodgy dealers just manage to stick out more obviously and blatantly because of the nature of the venue. Try surfing the net and you will find many good and bad dealers out there. It just take more time doing it this way than scrolling down through a list on Ebay.

Best Regards,
Al O

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/18/2007 11:34PM by Craig Mercer.
Re: Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location
May 18, 2007 06:45PM
I buy and sell on Ebay and have a lot of fun with it. My main reason for selling is to get more gas money to go somewhere else and get more stuff I really don't need. My listings give the location and species. I do not generally include a label as the listing says it all. If there was an older (not my) label with a piece, I include it. I do label thumbnail boxes, though, and would be happy to make labels upon request.

I don't care if the stuff I buy comes with a label, as long as it's described correctly. I make my own labels for my little collection.
Re: Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location
June 09, 2007 01:04AM
I realize this may sound stupid but I have to ask why you buy specimens? For me the thrill is in the hunt of finding my own specimens, and of course they're never fabulous like those sold on Ebay or at gem shows, at least not yet.
And if you do buy specimens what purpose do they serve? As pretty knick knacks? I guess I can see buying a big beautiful eye-popping specimen (if you could afford it) just for show, but why do people buy those tiny little pieces in the clear plastic boxes? I admit I go to the shows. I buy equipment and jewelry there at bargain prices, and I love to look at the specimens, it's educational for me. But please explain the scientific purpose of buying specimens from specific localities.
Re: Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location
June 09, 2007 03:58AM
Hi Tracy

I think that whether one totally self collects their specimens in the field or expands their collections by purchasing things they might never have the opportunity to collect is a personal one that we each have to make. For some the *thrill* is in the variety and beauty that its out there in the Mineral Kingdom - not just in the "chase and capture in the field."

For me the quest is as much about the science as it is about the specimens - I enjoy studying minerals to learn about their compositions and associations with other minerals and rock types, their geology and geochemistry. As an example, there is an area in Greece (Lavrion Mining District) that is among the most prolific producers of different species on the planet. Some of the minerals found there occur nowhere else on the planet. And the only way I can satisfy my drive to learn about minerals from that area is to obtain specimens through purchase or swapping.


avatar Re: Ebay sellers listing minerals without mine or location
June 09, 2007 09:08AM
This is one of several interesting threads I have read of late on Mindat. I have not had time to contribute to the forums for some time, but I do follow them. I have to express my disappointment, though, with what I consider a deteriorating level of opinion that has been expressed in many of the discussion forums on Mindat. Perhaps I am being a resister of change, but I seem to recall more vibrant discussions of interesting mineralogical topics in the earlier days. Many of those contributors seem to have disappeared. This particular thread seems to contain an ample quantity of limited thinking that seems particularly troubling and has been surfacing more and more in the forums. Recently, I have seen other threads where similar two-dimensional thinking, at least from my standpoint, has crept in. For example, in one thread that was discussing the silly practice of selling fragments of quartz as Atezulite or some such tripe one step above snake oil, a contributor was admonished for not being tolerant of "religion." I might ask that person why the words "tolerance " and "religion" should be used in the same sentence given even a brief glance at the current world situation, and also how tolerant a person needs to be in the face of stupidity.

As to eBay, my comments are strictly those of a mineral buyer, and not as one indebted to any of the "established dealers," so I am free to speak my mind.

Here is my comment: For the knowledgeable mineral collector, eBay represents right now, and has for the past couple of years, the best period of a buyer's market I have seen in about 40 years of collecting and purchasing minerals.

This has been a heyday from the buyer's perspective, but I want to stress the knowledgeable part. You have to know what you are doing, which admittedly takes years. I will also stress the part about eBay being a buyer's market, in contrast to other venues, which are often seller's markets. I am a buyer, which should I prefer?

On eBay, collectors have the chance to contact people around the world who are not necessarily mineral collectors, or those who know much about mineral specimens, but who somehow have inherited or obtained collections. These are the very people that the established dealers seek out and purchase collections from at 10 to 20 cents on the dollar, but now we buyers have the chance to buy from the original sellers direct without the mark-ups. Sometimes the photographs are poor and the descriptions are lacking, but most sellers will answer questions or offer some return policy. I have made some great friends that way, by asking questions and offering advice.

There are also many reputable mineral dealers on eBay-as well as some bad ones. Largely, my experience in obtaining specimens on eBay has been exceptional. I set myself a few simple rules. First, consider the risk. How sure are you that the description and locality are accurate, that the photographs depict all relevant features, and that the seller is reputable? As my level of certainty drops, then the price I will bid drops. I risk only what I think is warranted. Some bets have paid off, and others have been a bust, but the busts never amounted to a significant amount of money. Second, I don't buy from any seller that mentions metaphysical properties even in passing (except in a joking fashion) as a part of the description, nor do I purchase from sellers who offer lab grown crystals that are sold using a mineral species name. Mineral species names should be reserved for naturally occurring crystals. I would not object to a seller offering copper sulfate crystals, but would object if they were sold as chalcanthite, especially if a locality, such as Poland, was attributed to the piece. Lab grown copper sulfate is not chalcanthite, because chalcanthite is a mineral species, and every definition of mineral species I have seen includes some aspect of "natural occurrence." The reason for this rule is that I believe some sellers enable these buyer behaviors, without subscribing to such beliefs themselves, but go along with what amounts to deception in order to facilitate their sales. This is not a trait of a reputable seller.

There are actually many very good mineral dealers who are regular sellers on eBay, and who offer a wonderful level of customer service. I will relate one story concerning a mineral purchase: I bought two specimens on eBay from a regular eBay seller, who also advertises on Mindat. Before the parcel was sent out, a resident feline at the seller's residence knocked one of the pieces off a table, and the piece was broken. This seller was very apologetic. He completely refunded the purchase price and shipping charges for both specimens, and still sent them to me free of charge, including the undamaged piece. Even the broken piece was still quite nice, and now consists of two nice thumbnails. In addition, he extended a generous discount on the future specimen of my choice as a part of his well-written letter of apology. One rule of buying: the best gauge of a seller's worth often comes when things did not go as planned. How does the seller make up for the lapse? This is the true test of customer service and this seller came out looking very good indeed.

In contrast, I recently purchased a specimen from a non-eBay dealer, via his website. This dealer is NOT one of the mainstream dealers who are featured prominently as advertisers on Mindat, although he is listed on the Mindat directory and he features some 2000 pieces on his site. The specimen was represented to be two different species, murdochite and pyromorphite, but the specimen that was sent had neither. Murdochite is fairly distinctive, and this piece was egregiously misidentified and misrepresented. The piece that was sent was essentially worthless, and if I was asked to appraise it, the value would not be more than a dollar. This seller, in contrast to the example of the eBay seller above, was not apologetic at all and refused to refund my money. Instead, he would offer "store credit" for the purchase price alone if I sent the piece back at my expense. Either way, I would be out shipping both ways, despite the fact that he did not send me even close to what I ordered. Now, how do you think I would feel about this seller had he instead treated me like the seller from eBay I mentioned in my first example? Instead of reviling him as I now do, I would think he was a reputable seller and would probably buy from him again. Which is the wiser choice for a mechant wishing to stay in business?

Concerning the practice of labeling minerals I have a few comments: Ideally, every person who possesses a specimen for even a short period should make a label, which should list the collector's name and place (town) of residence, species names, locality, and preferably a brief description. That label, along with all other preexisting labels, should be kept with the specimen, and should accompany the specimen at the point of de-acquisition. These labels often are the only documented history of a specimen's provenance. If properly cared for, mineral specimens will typically survive longer than people will. Thus, it is our jobs as collectors, or perhaps stewards is a better word, to preserve the specimen's history. Some mineral dealers will deface labels or discard them, which is a disservice to the hobby. Once aspects of a specimen's history are lost, it is very difficult at the least, and usually impossible, to reestablish that information. On eBay, it is often true that specimens are sent without labels. Usually, this can be chalked up to the aforementioned sellers, who are unknowledgeable about best practices in the mineral collecting hobby. Occasionally, a seller who should know better will send a piece without a label. I recently mentioned this lack to one seller, who got the message and sent a hand written label with the next specimen I purchased. Ultimately, though, the labels are supporting documentation for the specimen itself. Thus, if you obtain a superb specimen that does not have a label, you still have a superb specimen. Alternatively, a poor specimen with a label is still a poor specimen. Concerning the accuracy of the specimen's actual provenance, the lack of a label does not inherently call that into question. That is because labels themselves can be wrong, and often are.

Now, my rant almost through, I feel the need to address the question asked above as to why anyone might want to purchase mineral specimens, because that collector's thrill is in finding specimens. I would ask, in response, another equally valid question: why collect minerals at all? Most people don't feel the need. The fact is, though, that you enjoy finding specimens, while others might be interested in the mineralogy of remote localities, such as the exotic selenium minerals of the El Dragon Mine in Bolivia, or in those of defunct localities, such as the Mammoth-St. Anthony mine that ceased operations in 1953, or Tsumeb, which ceased operations more recently. Most of us would not want to go that far, and we don't have time machines to visit localities of the past. I have noticed this rift between field collectors and those who purchase specimens in the past and I do not encourage it. Instead, I would suggest that you both field collect and purchase (and trade) specimens to enjoy a greater richness of experience in the realm of the study of minerals.

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