mineral collecting has been a hobby built around the
camaraderie of mineral clubs and societies, scientific
collecting and study of minerals, and small-scale selling
or specimens to collectors, typically by retired or
part-time dealers. In the past ~30 years, however, mineral
specimens, particularly the highest quality and most
aesthetically-spectacular specimens, have become increasingly
viewed as natural art, and their value has
risen to rival many works of fine art created by man.
This shift in collecting has enabled activities that
would have been impossible before, such as commercial-scale
mining explicitly for mineral specimens, and advanced
mineral cleaning and preparation facilities.
Companies such as Collectors Edge Minerals in
Colorado, Fine Minerals International in New York, and
Crystal Classics in the U.K. have either re-opened old
historic mines specifically to recover specimens or
started new mining projects where previous collecting
has been limited to informal hand-digging. In addition
to such mining operations, modern state-of-the-art mineral
preparation labs employing techniques such as multi-stage
chemical cleaning, abrasion and mechanical removal of
unwanted or damaged crystals or matrix, and restoration
of missing crystal portions has led to the availability
of the finest-quality mineral specimens ever seen in
the history of mineral collecting on the modern market.
As mineral collecting enters a new era of both pricing
and specimen quality, however, it is important to reflect
on the history of specimen mining and recovery, the
availability of high-quality specimens in all prices
ranges, from scientific reference samples to museum-quality
pieces, and the interface between the mineral dealing
and collecting community and the mineralogical research
community. This talk will provide a basic overview of
mineral specimen mining today, and some of the techniques
and methods used to prepare and market the specimens
that result from these mining projects.
Philip Persson has been a mineral collector most of
his life and grew up collecting and studying the minerals
of the well-known deposits at Franklin and Sterling
Hill, New Jersey. He financed his graduate school studies
with his own small business, Persson Rare Minerals,
and has been involved in the Colorado mineral collecting
and mineral research communities for the past ~10 years.
He received an MSc. In geology from the Colorado School
of Mines in May of 2017, where he focused on igneous
petrology, mineralogy, and geochemistry, and a B.A.
in geology from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
He presently works for Collectors Edge Minerals
in Golden, Colorado, assisting with sales, marketing