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Re: Are specimens a good investment?

Posted by Jon Mommers  
avatar Re: Are specimens a good investment?
August 15, 2008 10:57AM
    
Gwen,

I do not wish to offend anyone, which means I will no doubt offend someone.

You wrote:
"I often get told in Australia (where I live) that minerals are a good investment",

please remember not all used car or vacuum cleaner salesmen/ sales persons sell vacuum cleaners or cars, some sell minerals too.

I have dealt and collected minerals for more years in Australia, than I wish to accurately count. I buy and collect minerals for the joy, I do not buy them as an investment, nor would I recommend them as such. I do make a living from them.

The prices that high end minerals are bringing worldwide is soaring, whether you are able to tap into that market and sell ( not just buy), is a challenge for any collector wishing to trade in the worlds best mineral specimens. There is a lot of money to be made at 20 to 30% markup at the top end of the market. There is also a lot of risk.

If you bought gold ten days ago, you would be very unhappy with the return you would be receive if you sold today.

As in any market, it is knowledge and skill that wins out.

Overall in the mid to lower range of minerals on offer in Australia, especially those being recycled from old collections, I have found that they are a lot cheaper than those on offer in the retail market in either the US or Europe ( for comparable pieces).

The best in Australia brings very serious money. It is the ability to find those pieces before they go off shore or disappeared into someone's collection and then on sell them, that will give you the returns that you are seeking for investment purposes.

You are not likely to see the very best on offer on the tables at mineral shows here in Australia or elsewhere, it is only through networking with dealers and other collectors, that you get the opportunity to see or hear of such pieces.

Knowledge is money, especially in any collectable market, so study and see as many good minerals as possible and I wish you well in making a good return on your mineral collecting. I wish you every joy in the journey. As an old friend of mine once said "Money is but dust in the wind, something written in stone last forever, trouble is you can't eat the stuff."

Cheers

Jon



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/22/2008 07:27PM by Rock Currier.
avatar Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 23, 2008 04:16AM
    
Minerals are a good investment in my marriage. We play and enjoy mineral collecting together. Now that is priceless!

Gail Patricia Copus Spann
Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 23, 2008 05:46AM
    
Amen Gail. . . amen!!
avatar Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 23, 2008 05:54AM
    
Gail,

I wholeheartedly concur, there is nothing more enjoyable in a relationship than sharing a common interest. Sheryn and I have found mineral collecting a source of constant joy and amusement, especially when the kids get involved. You definitely can not put a price on that.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/23/2008 08:45AM by Jon Mommers.
Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 23, 2008 07:54AM
Hello,
first i have to say, that Specimens are not a real Investment. If you want make Specimen to Money because you need some in an defined time you will get a real hard lost or have to wait (too) long for a deal which gets a good part of buying prize (The half of Buying prize IS a good part for a fast sale....fast means a succesful sale in less than a month).

For a real Dealer its a other story. He has the Time and the mass of Specimen to earn Money with them. Sometimwes he must wait Years for a customer of an defined Specimen, but thats his buisnes. If a Dealer finds the right words and waits long enough, he can even sell Scrab for golden Prizes. The Silver in Arsenic Specimen from Pöhla are a good example. In Germany was it a mass product with low prizes and no buyers. In US some people earned hundrets of Dollars with them.
Greets
Alexander
Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 23, 2008 01:37PM
Contrary to what some dealers would like you to believe, minerals are almost never a good investment if you are buying them from a retail dealer, even if the dealer tells you he's giving you a big "discount". When you want to resell the specimen, you'll probably end up selling it to another dealer, not a collector, for a wholesale price. No one ever made money buying collectibles at retail and selling them at wholesale! (Same for jewellery, coins or anything else.) Mineral collectors save minerals for fun and education, rarely for profit.

If, on the other hand, you can buy minerals at far less than retail prices, as for example by recycling old collections you purchase from unappreciative heirs, or wholesale lots directly from miners, then you could make a profit. But that, I suppose, falls under the category of "business", not "investment" winking smiley)
avatar Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 23, 2008 03:00PM
Minerals, like any other collectable, are a good investment if, and only if, you have expert knowledge of the field.

Plus you need the luck to see the right things at the right price and buy them before other people do.

As a short term investment it's tough if not impossible to make a return, but longer term it's probably pretty safe, especially if you collect classic material that isn't found so much these days (so spend your money on Tsumeb Dioptase or Cornish Liroconites, and not on Chinese Fluorite or Indian Zeolites regardless of how good the piece is)

I don't treat mine as an investment primarily, which is why I break my own rules and buy pieces that I like even if they have no obvious resale value. But I always keep my eyes open for those 'sleepers' that are undervalued and overlooked, and I've got some great pieces that way (for example, lovely Cornish Herodsfoot Bournonite last year at Denver for $100). And that's not just an investment, it's a beautiful piece in my collection.

Jolyon
avatar Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 23, 2008 03:25PM
    
Alfredo Petrov Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Contrary to what some dealers would like you to
> believe, minerals are almost never a good
> investment if you are buying them from a retail
> dealer, even if the dealer tells you he's giving
> you a big "discount". When you want to resell the
> specimen, you'll probably end up selling it to
> another dealer, not a collector, for a wholesale
> price.
No one ever made money buying collectibles
> at retail and selling them at wholesale! (Same for
> jewellery, coins or anything else.) Mineral
> collectors save minerals for fun and education,
> rarely for profit.
>

I agree with Alfredo. I used to collect coins and fell under the spell of the siren's song of "good investment". Collectables are not good investments (even in the long term), if you can only obtain them at retail prices. The wholesale-retail spread is just too large to be matched and exceeded within a persons lifetime. The only exception to this rule is if you are buying very high end pieces sought by other collectors at the high end. But that isn't where most collectors are at...

After my expeience with coins, I will never collect anything for profit. Only for enjoyment.

...and what's wrong with Indian zeolites?
avatar Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 23, 2008 03:27PM
David

How to own a zeolite mine in India.

1. buy some land somewhere in the deccan area.
2. dig a hole
avatar Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 23, 2008 03:34PM
    
Jolyon,

I would not put down buying the very best of what's plentiful and well-priced today if you are indeed thinking of long term value.

Many things that were extremely plentiful in the '80's when we began seriously collecting have now become much less available, and so the best pieces are indeed today commanding high prices. Think things like fine Illinois fluorites, Elmwood calcites and dioptase (it was everywhere in the early 1980s) and other Tsumeb minerals. Even Himalaya tourmaline which was abundant for many years is now much less so, and the price much higher. The key is buying the best you can afford -- even if you have to stretch a little bit to afford it.
avatar Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 23, 2008 04:03PM
    
I am not even sure about the high end of the market. My gut feeling is that the markups in the high end have increased over the years. If you look at the high end art market, they have found out that the prices can go down as well as up.
avatar Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 23, 2008 04:06PM
I totally agree with that, but the problem is that over the last few years the price * of indian zeolites has skyrocketed to ridiculous values, mostly because of inexperienced collectors prepared to pay over the odds. The time to buy good indian zeolites cheaply was probably 10-15 years ago.

And some chinese minerals are good investments - things like the pyromorphites and wulfenites (especially) are unlikely to be available in such quality at such relatively low prices for long. But they'll probably be coming out with fluorites, scheelites, cassiterites and cinnabars of great quality for as long as I live.

Jolyon

* the retail value has climbed. resale value to a dealer probably hasn't gone up so much.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/23/2008 04:08PM by Jolyon Ralph.
Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 23, 2008 04:15PM
    
You don't know what "HIGH END" is until you have tried to acquire top end Franklin, NJ, specimens. Talk about a niche market and dedicated collectors (myself and friends included)!!!!
Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 23, 2008 04:41PM
Hello,
buying "High End" Pieces is no problem if you got the money.

The real problem is to buy no name Specimen. Its much harder to get a 90 Gram Thorianite or a 300 Gramm massive and pure (!) cinnabar from China then getting an exclusive and perfect 10.000 $ Tourmaline. Money dosnt help you with your search and if you try to do this you will learn that "High End" is not really the rarest stuff on market. Its only the most expensive...not more.
Greets
Alexander Ringel
Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 23, 2008 05:34PM
    
I am told that prices have generally increased over the years, but do not know if this is just inflation. What I do know is that the mineral market is rather limited, at least here in the UK it is. I have noticed that whenever I have something new to offer it does quite well for the first few shows then begins to diminish. After it has done the rounds a few times it becomes very slow to sell as everybody has a piece. I now have a garage full of stock that has "done the rounds" and is now back on the shelves for 20 years until the market recovers. A friend of mine is stuck with a mountain of Tunisian celestite for the same reason. There is also the danger that one may buy a rare specimen, let us say of "somethingite", for a huge sum. Then a few years later somebody in Outer Mongolia discovers a million tonne deposit of the stuff and the price crashes. Or, if one's preference is for locality pieces, then there is the danger that one day the mine may reopen and suddenly material is available again. I tend to agree with the sentiments expressed by others above. Buy minerals because you like them, not in the belief that you'll make a buck or two. Unless you really know what you are doing, the chances are you won't.
Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 23, 2008 05:42PM
A few words about "investment". A decade ago, my nephew was convinced he was going to fund his college education from his investment in beanie babies. He carefully followed the quoted value of each limited edition plush toy and struggled to get his hands on the ones he saw as most promising. Hey, he was no worse off than most dot.com stock investors.
The thing is that an "investment" is only worth what you can get someone else to pay for it when you want to sell. You have to consider not just "value," but also liquidity--how readily you can find a buyer who will pay you something close to that value. There simply are not that many people who collect really high-end specimens, so unless you have a standing offer to purchase your treasures, it is unlikely you will reap full value for your "investment". For cheaper specimens... forget about it.
avatar Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 23, 2008 06:06PM
    
I wholeheartedly agree with the spirit of Gail's answer. The profit harvested from time and money invested in mineral specimens can be measured in "quality of life" units. It is all about the social interaction with mineral friends and interested family memebers, the fresh air and hard work during collecting expeditions, the visual pleasure of studying beautiful pieces of "natural art" or the delight of acquiring and studying exceptional specimens of real rarities. If at the end of the day you just recover the price originally paid for the specimen (or even less), you have still had the pleasure of finding (in the field, at a show, on the web or in a shop), displaying and studying the specimen and thus enriched your life.
On the monetary side, I agree with those stating that only rarely will a specimen be a good investment and then it is when you are in the position of selecting the best or the rarest of its kind. Such opportunities are rare for the ordinary collector. But as with the Bournonite mentioned by Jolyon - there are sleepers out there. I really envy you finding a Heredsfoot Bournonite for $100 !

Knut
Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 23, 2008 09:41PM
    
Hello, everyone,

I really enjoy reading your posts. Everyone here has offered their unique perspective into the hobby, all of which make sense to me.

I am in the hobby for the enjoyment, fellowship and the joy of finding that special specimen. How much is that pleasure worth? I would say it is priceless. Because of my hobby I have met many nice people, I have travelled around the country to mineral shows and museums and have stimulated my aging brain by doing research on the earth sciences.

While billions of people are wasting their time sitting in front of the TV, gambling in casinos or drinking their lives away in some pub, we mineral collectors (and other people with hobbies) are stimulating the economies of the world and our native countries. What could be better than that?

One word of caution, though: before you look at minerals as an investment you have to take into consideration the cost associated with acquiring a specimen. Travel, lodging and food add to the cost of acquiring all commodities. The further and longer you travel, the more a specimen will cost. That is why we should place a high value on the non-monetary aspects of the hobby such as personal satisfaction and fellowship. As Alfredo implied, the closer you are to the source, the better your chances are of recovering money spent on a specimen. The source might be a local mine or a recycled collection in your area. In any hobby mobility coupled with persistence and research always pays off.

I don't know if I will make money on my collection and I don't care. I am sure I could get some of my money back but I could never put a price on the pleasure I get, and have gotten, from the hobby.

Best wishes,

Joe
avatar Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 23, 2008 11:01PM
    
Alexander Ringel Wrote:

buying "High End" Pieces is no problem if you got
the money
. The real problem is to buy no name Specimen. Its
much harder to get a 90 Gram Thorianite or a 300
Gramm massive and pure (!) cinnabar from China
then getting an exclusive and perfect 10.000 $
Tourmaline
.


Hi Alexander,

When you talking about the real "high end" specimens, I think there is much more money in the world then there are real "high end" specimens. So even when you are prepaired to spend the money, but you have also a certain taste and are also selective on damage and repairs, it is a problem to find real high end specimens...

And about the Thorianite and the Cinnaber... Thorianite is black, mostly dull and is also radioactive, and the Cinnaber is unstable. Specimens as these will never reach the price level of those attractive and stable "high end" specimens.

So dont get my wrong Alexander, I quoted you, but I realy understand what you try to say, but all minerals at a certain level are hard to get, but for the more fancy ones will always be a bigger market.


Regards,
Mario Pauwels
avatar Re: Are specimens a good investment?
October 24, 2008 01:07AM
Meh, buy books instead. They have pictures of pretty rocks in there that I can not afford and books usually retain or go up in value. Well, books about minerals and mineral locations that is.
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