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Julien Raoul October 06, 2011 12:10AMHi everyone,
Could someone give me his opinion about this tourmaline specimen freshely mined?
It measures 7x1.8x1.8cm
I can't find any reference price for this location.
It is composed of several parallel crystals, they are all terminated, complete all around, no damage. Which is quite rare for Mada tourmaline of this size. Almost completely transparent, some very clean areas, even if the pictures don't really show the transparency. Needs a bit of cleaning at the bottom end.
To me it is a really fine Malagasy tourmaline specimen, color is quite unusual for the area, greyish-bluish-green. The yellow shades are probably due to the sunlight on the pictures.
By the way, any idea of the tourmaline variety that could be? I would guess elbaite, not sure...
Thanks in advance!
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Julien Raoul October 06, 2011 09:27AMHi Steve,
Thanks for your opinion.
Yes the color is not as intense as those from Ikalamavony or some from Anjanaboinona for exemple, but to me it is still a pleasant color. I really like this undefined color in fact, and it is unusual. For this location, size, aesthetics and crystalisation quality, and I don't know if this is for some of you a criteria, but the fact that Malagasy tourmaline in general rarely occurs in this color, I would have priced it for more. Based also on what we can see on dealers website for comparable Malagasy tourmaline but the color.
Any other opinion maybe?
Julien Raoul October 06, 2011 01:26PMHi Rock Currier,
The specimen comes from Camp Robin area, fianarantsoa province, Madagascar (locality is in the title). Some of the specimens from the same pegmatite are in association with quartz or light smoky quartz (this specimen was picked from a lot, this one was the biger one, and the other were a minimum damaged). But I'm not sure exactly from which pegmatite, there are several in the area.
I know it is coming from there because I bought it there in Camp Robin few days ago. And freshly mined as bought it very close to the source. Usually, people come back once a week to the closest village from were they work to sell the findings. This is quite a generality all around Mada. For exemple, in Anstirabe-Fianaranstoa area (les hauts-plateaux), this unofficial market occurs every monday morning (Ibity, Betafo...), in some localities on saturdays. In the north of Mada, for exemple Antetezambato or Ambondromifehy (Diana region), always on Tuesdays. These are for cultural reasons.
The miner told me that he found this specimen just few days before I bought it. So this is a reliable source. Really freshly mined, maximum 2 weeks ago, can't be more.
I should have explained that in the previous post.
Rock Currier October 10, 2011 07:58PMJulien,
It could be somewhat higher, but I am reluctant to estimate values without seeing an image of the entire specimen from two or three sides. For all its vaunted reputation, Madagascar is pretty chintzy with good specimens other than quartz and Celestite crystals, I don't think I saw a single terminated tourmaline crystals offered for sale when I was there.
Crystals not pistols.
Julien Raoul October 11, 2011 08:14AM100% agree with you about Mada material. Celestite and quartz are known to be more or less consistant quality there, but it is always the same here, even for those species, not that easy to find undamaged crystals or specimens, or let's say more difficult than in other countries. We can maybe add to this list demantoid and topazolite from Antetezambato, quality is definitely good over there and have a serious reputation now. But this seems to be quite an exception.
From what I see in the mineral dealers shops, malagasy material seems to be underevaluated in the market, specimens as well as gems. I'm not sure why, but when I see for example sapphires, quality is quite consistant and very high, but compared to sapphires from other origins, like Ceylan, prices seems to be far lower. Same for emeralds and rubies.
In other words, when I see the market trends, Madagascar seems to be a bit an ugly duckling. Am I right, or is it just an subjective idea? As an example, take the same tourmaline crystal, one from Paprok, one from Ilakamavony, same color, same quality, same size, same condition. Is there a reason, why the Paprok one will be more expensive (this is to me the market trend, maybe I'm wrong)? As you correctly mentionned, it is not that easy to get fine undamaged tourmaline here. Which could make it rarer, in terms of condition, than the Paprok one. And we can find many species from Mada in the same case. Epidote, sphene, beryl...OK, many of you will probably answer "Yes, but this one is from Paprok". This is not the reason I try to understand, I know that locality is important, or because this is an "ex" from someone's collection that only few people know. How can we explain such price difference, again for comparable specimens?
In almost every domain, something rarer is something more expensive. But not the always the case in minerals. Pakistan produces much more aquas specimens than Mada, but those from Pakistan are far more expensive for same quality. Vangaindrano area produces also "killer" aquas for example.
Maybe this is something that we can discuss together, for me Madagascar material in general is a good example. Some of the weirdest specimens of the mineral world are coming from here (Beryl, pseudomorphs in general...), some of the rarer species are coming for here (Pezzottaite, Londonite, Grandidierite...), some of the biggest specimens are coming from here (Beryl, Quartz, Epidote...), some of the most beautiful and colorful are coming from here (Liddicoatite, again and again beryl...)... We can find plenty of examples. Which, to me, on the paper, would make Madagascar as one of the "leaders" in terms of reputation, especially some locations which are productive in terms of quality. But it seems to be not the case, but few exceptions, compared to the number of mines we have here. And this is something I don't understand. Or am I completely wrong? We always see the same calcite, the same fluorite, the same azurite malachite, the same pyromorphite...enough to supply at least 10 of each for each collector in the world...and always the same locations, always the same crazy prices. Why then?
What are your opinions?
Rock Currier October 11, 2011 10:19AMJulien,
I agree and think it doesn't make much sense, but that's the way things are. I think it is like a fashion thing. The new hot thing is this, and if you want to be hip you have to buy one of those things. It becomes a "classic" so it is worth more even though it may not be anywhere near the quality some something that is not a classic. Its sort of like the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know. The more experienced a collector you are, the less you are likely to be trapped in that mind set.
Rather than a single small crystal, you need to get a bunch of them and write a story about them and get some high quality pictures taken of them. Get some stones faceted from the material and have a fancy piece of gold jewelry with diamonds made. Perhaps get pretty girl to hold some of them and wear the jewelry. Then have the story and pictures published in the Mineralogical Record or another Magazine and then show up at Tucson and Munich with a fancy stand and then you can put the high prices on them. One lonely little green crystals without fancy published pictures to point to will not make you much money. You have to market them properly to get the big bucks. And that takes time and a suitable organization to do it. But that costs a lot of money also.
When I started importing pyrite from Peru, I encountered all sorts of people saying that it was OK but the big old crystals from Leadville or Gillman, Colorado were better, which was almost always not the case, but you can't change peoples opinions by arguing with them and throwing things in their faces. It takes time and persuasion, bit by bit.
Crystals not pistols.
Julien Raoul October 11, 2011 01:10PMI know that proper advertising, which takes time and costs a lot, is the engine of mineral business. I understand that it must be done on the products, but also on the localities.
Usually, collectors, whatever they collect, are looking for something that other collectors don't have. Which sets the price of a rarity, unusual thing. A stamp with double printing will cost lot more than the same standard stamp. That's why it will be called a collector item and why it is so expensive. Not enough for everyone.
So if I understand correctly your explaination, today's way of mineral buying/selling is the contrary. People want what everyone has, which is called a classic. As it always been like that, or maybe sometime people were doing like "normal" collectors, buying what the other doesn't have?
So, again if I understood correctly, these classic localities are artificial, created by the few biggest mineral dealers, thanks to their great ability for advertising. So dealers in general will have more economical interest in buying in mass what the biggest dealers and minrec advertise, rather than find specimens from new unknown localities and small quantities for creating retention. Is that correct?
To come back to Madagascar, do you know why there are so few classic localities there? I understand the way this business works, but I don't undertand why a country so rich in minerals and rarities is not considered in this business like it should be. Is there an objective reason for that, or is it again the way it is, because main dealers have just decided that malagasy gems and mineral will be not interesting?
Your peruvian pyrite is an interesting example. That shows how people can be "fashionned" by people who decided that "you will like this nice pyrite but not this wonderful one". Doesn't make any sense...
What about unique minerals in this case? If we follow the way it works, these are worth about nothing right?
Thanks a lot Rock your explainations, this a is very interesting discussion, at least for me!
Alfredo Petrov October 11, 2011 02:26PMJulien, I think that one problem in developing collectors' taste for "classic" localities in Madagascar is that, at least in the past, Madagascar material came to us with very little or very unreliable locality information. A locality has to be quite well-defined before people consider it "classic", and with Madagascar material the exact locality was so frequently rather "fuzzy". Perhaps, with time, that situation is improving.
Ibrahim Jameel October 11, 2011 07:07PMAbout the original specimen, that color is very unusual. I dont know the reason, but from Brazil or Afghanistan, greens are very common. From Madagascar, it's always reds/browns/ blacks. I'd say 500-600, depending on who is selling it... it has good size, and you said it was very transparent.
As far as a lack of appreciation for malagasy minerals, I agree that it has to do with the marketing, but also their availability. Up until a few years ago, it was apparently somewhat difficult to get minerals out of the country because of the laws. Also, it is far enough away that (it seems) only a few french dealers go there. It is also very costly from the USA, and it is hard to find good pieces there, so not many american dealers go.
There are hardly any malagasy dealers-- in denver for example, I think there were three dealers (two french as one russian) specializing in this material. One was entirely lapidary/ celestite/amonites, another was probably 80% lapidary, and the final dealer was about 90% specimens.
My guess would be that the association with lapidary material, and the lack of material overall makes it more obscure. I mean, Mozambique produces excellent tourmalines and spodumenes as well, but they are so obscure in the minds of collectors that they are generally worth a fraction of a comparable Afghan specimen.
You mentioned Paprok tourmalines. I really dont understand the pricing of Afghan material .... 15 years ago, a big bubble gum pink tourmaline was rare. Today, every "high end" dealer at a show has at least one. Every year they find more and more of them. They get more common, and the prices keep going up. It just doesnt make sense?
Julien Raoul October 12, 2011 01:50PMThis is interesting, thanks Alfredo and Ibrahim.
Knowing the exact localities of products is still a huge issue here. If you don't go close enough to the mine, just forget to know where those come from in 90% of the cases. When people don't know, you get always the same answer: "from south". This is not a problem for the sellers if they don't know the localities, so they will not make efforts to get the info. This is probably the source of the localities issue here in Mada. Which is a paradox, when you know that products don't really travel a lot inside Mada, they stay more or less pretty close to their origin. OK, in some regions you have dozens of mines/pegmatites with the same species, especially beryl and tourmaline, but still, shouldn't be a problem...So the only way to be sure about the localities, going where the stones are.
It is still not easy to export rough material from Mada. This problem really started with the famous half ton + emerald specimen from Mananjara area, which is, if I'm correct, now in Honk-Hong, via La Réunion. The owner just "forgot" to declare it properly. The ministry of mines just realised it when it was already in La Réunion, so just after that, it was just forbidden to export any rough. Which causes for a time a massive move of the buyers, mainly Thai and Sri-Lankan, to somewhere else. Now it is allowed again, but under unclear conditions. It is even more unclear for minerals, as it is quite difficult to evaluate them. Now Thai, Sri-Lankan and African buyers are back, they manage to export massive rough quantities, but sometimes the police just grab big stocks to remind people that they can decide what leaves and what stays in Mada if you don't follow their rules. Last example, 5 tons of tourmaline have been intercepted by the police nearby Ikalamavony. This was breaking news here in newspapers. Well, with all these problems, and also the fact that it is far away from the US, I understand why dealers don't want to come here. But exportation is not impossible, it just takes a loooooong time to do it properly.
The products are here, in quantity and quality. I think that if some dealers decide one day to "invest" for a long period in Madagascar for minerals, that will probably help to change dealers, collectors as well as government's way of thinking about Malagasy products and their international potential. And definitely, Madagascar needs that, its actual position in the market is just unfair to me, when you see the quantities of minerals and rough extracted every year, and the potential of the new mines discovered every month...
If there is a "Paprok fever", why not an Antetezambato or Anjanaboinona fever, after all? Just need to go where the quality is, and educate a bit people about the way of extracting once you are there, undamaged specimen is more money...and it works, people here will tell you, but the local market is very small so it is not motivating. How many mines are slepping here, it's countless. Look at Antetezambato. I mean this is one of the only active demantoid mine in the world, fine quality on top of that, with the strangest specimens ever. It is almost a dead mine now, why? Almost nobody to buy anymore. And you still have plenty of stones under this swamp, I can guarantee that info as I live in the area. But if the mineral market in general doesn't want to and leaves collectors in obsucurity as you said Ibrahim...So I start to understand now, when big dealers say that Antetezambato will not be producing a lot anymore, it is not because of the lack of stones, but because of the lack of buyers, so because they decided it. To me it's really a shame...
Ibrahim Jameel October 12, 2011 03:29PMJulien,
You mentioned the police in Madagascar. I think they and the customs people actually contribute greatly to the problem. The ministry of mines has a very clear set of rules and procedures for exporting gem rough and minerals. The biggest problem I have found is that the customs officers do not know these rules, and act on their own. It seems almost like there is some sort of competition between the Mines Ministry, and the Customs officers. Especially at Ivato, the Customs people are all looking for a bribe.
It seems like they divide everything into "precious" and "semi precious", without providing appropriate guidelines. For some officials, "precious" is just ruby, sapphire, emerald. For others, it includes tourmaline. For others, it includes anything transparent. And for others, it includes anything translucent. For some "rough" includes specimens, for others it's just the glassy bits of gem material.
There is too much subjectivity. When a dealer goes and spends a lot of money, the last thing he or she wants is for some customs officer looking for a bribe or to "stretch his ego" to take all the stones.
I learned my lesson on my first trip, so the second time I gave all my material to an exporter friend of mine, and she handled it for me. I still carried about 10 (non gem) pieces with me through the airport. The (mines ministry official at airport handled the paperwork very quickly, but then it came time to go through customs. I was quickly passed through, but then one of the customs officers saw the Ministry of Mines paperwork in my hand. It was my fault for not hiding it, but just because he saw it he asked to open my bag. He then made me unwrap my stones, and asked me to point each one out on the Mines paperwork.
I know for a fact that he could not tell a betafite from a liddicoatite, yet he was just looking for any inconsistency as an excuse to ask for a bribe, or to confiscate my material.
Adding to that, my exporter friend who handled the rest of the goods told me in the final steps, sometimes a bribe has to be paid at Ivato.,... and that is when she knows most of the people involved and is doing everything according to the rules.
On another note, i can think of one very good reason why malagasy minerals are under appreciated. You have already mentioned the extensive damage, (which does not help) but having done about 3 mineral shows now (not many, but i am learning a lot), I have noticed that there are a very large number of collectors looking for big flashy pieces. I had always thought this to be the minority as I had only done sales on the internet, but at the shows I have found that it is the biggest most colorful pieces that move fastest.
Madagascar, unfortunately, does not produce many of these. While the tourmaline colors and beryl colors can beat anything from Pakistan or Afghanistan, they are all mostly under 8 cm. If you find a big liddicoatite, it will probably brown, or opaque and require slicing. Heck, most pieces that I have seen over 5 cm are not even gemmy. They just dont have the "wow" factor of the average Afghan or even Brazilian piece... and that "wow factor" seems to be what many collectors want these days.
I cannot describe exactly what it is, but even when you have a lot of "high quality" malagasy specimens displayed in front of you, there is almost always a certain roughness and messiness about the pieces themselves.... and that is AFTER you have selected the good pieces from all the endless trash.
Both because of the mining methods, and I guess, just the way the crystals tend to form there, the best pieces seem to be smaller. And as they break everything, most are really only suitable for gem rough.
In short, there is more to it than just the big dealers having an effect on the market. To some extent it is the minerals themselves, and to another it is the local authorities causing problems... those problems make it difficult for more material to leave, and for it to become more prominent on the market.
Jolyon & Katya Ralph October 13, 2011 09:41AMLocation only significantly alters the price if it is from a historic or unusual location. Tourmaline like this from Maine or from Elba would have a significant premium.
From madagascar, afghanistan/pakistan or brazil would have no premium - the value would be based on the quality of the specimen alone.
While it's certainly true that a specimen like this could be obtained for $75 or less a few years ago, I think it's very unlikely to get a specimen of this quality for that price nowdays.
Still, I think that $200 retail is about the top limit for a price for this specimen.
Jason Barrett (2) October 17, 2011 07:52PMJulien Raoul Wrote:
> I personnally never seen any tourmaline this size
> this conditon for this price Jason...If your
> retail price is $75, that means that you can find
> something similar for what, $20-25? Honnestly hard
> to believe, but good for you then...
You are comparing it to Madagascar tourmaline, which as Jolyon put it, carries no provence premium. That being said if you were to buy a similar one from Afghanistan/pakistan or Brazil you would pay, in my opinion, $75-$100. The color is not good, it doesn't have good prismatic faces and has an overbearing of striations, and even though you say it's gemmy and has clean areas they are not readily visible from the outside. Aesthetics plays a big role in pricing
The form is very unaesthetic and rough looking.
Keep in mind this is comparing it to what I can buy for the same price from another location.
As far as Madagascar tourmaline is concerned it may be one of the best or close to it when compared to the others found there. I am not to keen on Mada tourmalines except for Liddi's so to someone that collects Mada tourmalines in particular you may find a higher price but all things being equal and to the average consumer strolling past at a gem show......
Nice crystal by the way.
Julien Raoul October 17, 2011 09:49PMJason,
I understand what you say. Comparing it to brasilian and afghan ones.
A tourmaline from a rare locality (Camp Robin) in the market, very unusual color and shape for the country where it comes from (Mada), in excellent condition considering its locality, and sorry, and definitely good aesthetics (pictures are bad OK, but it is very sharp and all but not rough looking, a bit dirty maybe...), should be somewhat a little bit special, at least just a little bit, because it is rare. Which is not the case for afgan and brazilian ones.
I don't understand then the point comparing it with afgan and brazilian ones. To me it should be compared to malagasy ones, as this is what it makes it unusual. Then, and this is my opinion only, pricing will be more objective, no influence of the usual localities like Paprok that almost every collecters have in their collection. I'm quite sure that any dealer will advertise this specimen this way to get the best of it, if they were the owner. So why not pricing it this way, instead of pricing it like common afgan and brazilian ones?
Julien Raoul October 19, 2011 01:03PMHi John,
Interesting as you said, do you have an opinion? the cheap $75, the average $200, or the expensive $600?
Finally I got very interesting info, thanks to all, but still not clear about the value!
In fact, as I said, I would like to have a price considering it is malagasy and compared to other malagasy toumalines. If someone has enough experience in malagasy material instead of always comparing to afgan ones...
Some more pricing maybe?
Jason Barrett (2) October 19, 2011 03:14PMI sent the pics and stats to 3 of my peers in the trade. All 3 have handled, bought, and sold more tourmaline than most anyone I know. All 3, I am sure, many of you know on here.
One said $100-$150
another said $200-$300
and another said $85-$120
LOL..not much of a change and still a wild swing in idea of price...LOL..
Any way you see it it's still a nice undamaged crystal. Thanks for posting!
Ibrahim Jameel October 19, 2011 05:22PMok, so maybe i overshot a bit. I think part of the issue is that you have folks here who select crystals from large bins of Afghan stuff (usually for sale by the gram), and then people who are used to buying specimens at shows.
The by-the-gram people underestimate (probably based on their experience with Afghan material) and the specimen people (like me) probably overestimate. Whatever the fair value is, I will point out that malagasy tourmaline is generally not sold in large bins for $2-$5/ gram.
I've been buying in both Peshawar and Madagascar, and I am generally a pretty hard bargainer. These days, you would need pretty good luck to get a 7x 1.8 cm tourmaline for $75 in either of those countries as a non-local, when purchasing as a specimen. If you search through sacks of gem rough, maybe you can get lucky-- personally i dont do that because there is limited time and it is better to pay a small premium than to waste the whole day looking for a complete crystal in a huge sack(which is usually not found)..... But to echo Julien, i think it is a mistake to compare Afghan to Malagasy, particularly when one virtually available by the 50 kg sack and the other is not..
Jolyon & Katya Ralph October 19, 2011 06:25PMYou can only charge a premium for rarity if there is a sufficient number of people who are prepared to pay a premium for minerals from this location.
Unfortunately, there are very few people who specialise in minerals of madagascar who would pay the premium in price for this crystal over a comparable Peshawar piece.
Tourmaline, unless it shows unusual colour or crystal form, simply won't get much of a premium from non-popular localities.
Julien Raoul October 19, 2011 10:22PMWell, thanks all for interest.
Jason, thanks for the additional pricing. it is more clear now, even if finally I will have the best idea once the specimen will be in Europe, and finally sold. But at least I've an opinion.
Ibrahim, what you said reveals a huge difference between Mada and Afghanistan. Jason, this specimen weights 32g, so $75 retail price will make a $2.34/g (less than 25000fmg/g!!!!). Well, I'm not sure if you ever been in Mada, but as a local, I can tell you that find a specimen like this for this price is just impossible, even if you buy 100 like this at the same time. If you can choose your tourmaline in Afghanistan or Brazil from 50 or 100kg batches, I imagine that these batches are from a unique owner. Which finally, will make your selection easier and quicker, AND cheaper, as one unique owner, or just a few . I don't know, I've never been there, just imagination.
In Mada, you deal with dozens, or more miners all wanting to sell their findings before going back to work. 100g by 100g batches maximum, rarely more, in "popular" mines like Ikalamavony or Ibity. I mean, people work hard to bring you nice tourmaline in dangerous conditions. For a specimen like that, if the real price is really $75, that will mean that I will have to buy it let say $0.5/g to simplify, plus customs in Mada, plus customs in Paris, plus flight ticket, plus...to earn about nothing. And more important than that, do you really want to pay about $20 only to the guy who brings you such a specimen from earth? This guy is not a machine and work for his own, his salary depends on buyers! And even after that, people say that these afgahan tourmaline are more expensive although the work is easier for dealers/buyers (50kg batches) and tourmaline in larger quantities. This is definitely not a fair price, and in this case this would be an ethically borderline business.
So this is what I wanted to say, and people should have this in mind before pricing, specimens are not arriving in Tucson or other shows by the same "motorway"...and this has a minimum price, from the miner to the final collecter. Comparisons should be made with comparable things, a tourmaline from Afghanistan seems to be, for these reasons, very different from its malagasy cousin...
Tim Jokela Jr October 20, 2011 01:13AMLol, it's all relative, if the locals average $1 per day, as a billion people on this earth do, then giving a guy $20 for a rock seems pretty fair.
Madagascar tourmies all seem vastly over valued considering how common the mineral is, but that's the market for ya.
Pertinent to this specimen, it's just not that interesting because of the color! Nobody is going to be buying it by the gram cos it's not gem rough.
Alfredo Petrov October 20, 2011 01:45AMJulien, in my opinion public discussion of mineral prices is an almost useless activity, because prices can vary by an order of magnitude, or even more, depending on where it is being offered, who is selling it, and to whom it is being offered.
In "free market" cultures we tend to believe that the "law of supply and demand" applies to all objects sold, including mineral specimens, but that is complete nonsense. If it were true, there would not be so much diversity in prices for similar specimens, which can vary by a factor of more than x10 or x20. The famous "law of supply and demand" works only when buyer and seller are both well-informed about the supply, and about actual prices being paid (not just price asked). But the mineral specimen market is what economists call an "inefficient" market, one characteristic of which is a lack of transparency, so buyers (and sellers) often don't know how big the supply is, or what others are charging for similar specimens, or even whether other sellers are really charging the prices on their labels or just some fraction of that price (or worse, "POR" - price on request). The lack of information distorts the efficient operation of simple "supply and demand". This market "inefficiency" either makes mineral collecting more challenging and exciting, or more irritating and frustrating, depending on your personality.
Personal tastes are a huge factor too... When we buy diesel, gold bullion or frozen fried potatoes, personal taste is not a big issue, but in mineral specimens it is everything. Some people will disparage your tourmaline as being not interesting, and they will not buy it even if you put only $50 on the label. But somewhere there is someone who will fall in love with it - perhaps they enjoyed a wonderful holiday in Madagascar once, or the faint pastel colour reminds them of their first girlfriend's eye shadow, whatever; they will love it, pay you $500 and walk away smiling. So you are asking the wrong question here - Don't ask us what is its value, ask yourself "Do I need to sell it quickly, or do I have the patience to wait for the customer who will really love it?"
Jason Barrett (2) October 20, 2011 03:48AMAlfredo Petrov Wrote:
> Julien, in my opinion public discussion of mineral
> prices is an almost useless activity, because
> prices can vary by an order of magnitude, or even
> more, depending on where it is being offered, who
> is selling it, and to whom it is being offered.
> In "free market" cultures we tend to believe that
> the "law of supply and demand" applies to all
> objects sold, including mineral specimens, but
> that is complete nonsense. If it were true, there
> would not be so much diversity in prices for
> similar specimens, which can vary by a factor of
> more than x10 or x20. The famous "law of supply
> and demand" works only when buyer and seller are
> both well-informed about the supply, and about
> actual prices being paid (not just price asked).
> But the mineral specimen market is what economists
> call an "inefficient" market, one characteristic
> of which is a lack of transparency, so buyers (and
> sellers) often don't know how big the supply is,
> or what others are charging for similar specimens,
> or even whether other sellers are really charging
> the prices on their labels or just some fraction
> of that price (or worse, "POR" - price on
> request). The lack of information distorts the
> efficient operation of simple "supply and demand".
> This market "inefficiency" either makes mineral
> collecting more challenging and exciting, or more
> irritating and frustrating, depending on your
> Personal tastes are a huge factor too... When we
> buy diesel, gold bullion or frozen fried potatoes,
> personal taste is not a big issue, but in mineral
> specimens it is everything. Some people will
> disparage your tourmaline as being not
> interesting, and they will not buy it even if you
> put only $50 on the label. But somewhere there is
> someone who will fall in love with it - perhaps
> they enjoyed a wonderful holiday in Madagascar
> once, or the faint pastel colour reminds them of
> their first girlfriend's eye shadow, whatever;
> they will love it, pay you $500 and walk away
> smiling. So you are asking the wrong question here
> - Don't ask us what is its value, ask yourself "Do
> I need to sell it quickly, or do I have the
> patience to wait for the customer who will really
> love it?"
Brillant post, Al
Wow, 32 grams..we were guessing around 20...you must have some fairly large fingers ;) ;)
Jason Barrett (2) October 20, 2011 03:51AMas a side note..I wouldn't necessarily call it a "premium" but I do notice Namibian tourmalines fetch some pretty high prices compared to other locales and particlarly african. I know part of this is due to scarcity there...you can buy everything else in namibia cheap but try to buy tourmalines there..sheesh
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