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Jordi Fabre
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PostPosted: Sep 03, 2006 17:12    Post subject: Opinions about Mineralogical Record's Article  

In the May-June 2006 issue of the US magazine Mineralogical Record, there was an article in which four different people (I wrote one of the position papers) discussed mineral sales over the web, both the advantages and some possible disadvantages.

Read the article: http://www.fabreminerals.com/include/10th-anniversary/M_Record/page_1.php

We would like that the discussion generated by this article continues, so we encourage you to post your opinions in this discussion forum.
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PostPosted: Sep 14, 2006 11:24    Post subject: Mineral sales over the Web.  

As in so many other cases mi liking for minerals started in my Primary School studies. At that time a friend of my father’s gave me as a present some examples that today, after thirty-five years, I still keep with me. I lost contact with that friend and my liking never bacame something solid. A couple years ago, surfing through the net I came by some minerals webpages. One of them specially attracted my attention as it allowed to buy them from your house and have them sent. I spent some time the following days reading the detailed descriptions the trader had on every mineral he was selling. It was a site where someone like me, who wasn´t an expert on the subject, could learn a lot about it. I thought on the possibility of buying one and see what happened. So I did and in the next week I had received it at home. It was surprised by its quality and that encouraged me to keep buying from that trader. In the following weeks I adquired several pieces with great results what lead me to start my own collection. I was lucky to have found FABRE MINERALS website.

Since then I have kept buying trough the net, mostly from Jordi, but also from some others and I have always found great professionals.

Suming up, the Internet trade allowed me to enter a world that otherways would have been hard to get to know as I do now.

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PostPosted: Sep 14, 2006 12:41    Post subject: Review but not buy  

I find all the web sites very useful as a source of information on what is new. But I hardly ever buy anything from them as I like to see specimens first. Maybe I miss some great specimens, but I prefer to work that way.
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TAK from NJ
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PostPosted: Sep 14, 2006 20:27    Post subject: A Fifth Perspective  

Thanks Jordi for sharing such an interesting piece and for starting this forum. I'd like to offer a point of view as an intermediate-level collector, and as an individual who's collected many different things all my life just because I love learning more about the world around me.

First, the Internet is redefining the way we interact with each other and is here to stay. It has its good points and its bad points, like anything else. With respect to collecting minerals, I don't see online buying as being significantly different from face-to-face transactions. I can visualize a specimen pretty well from a photo, and my gut reacts the same to images as in person, with about an equal success/failure rate. Without a doubt there is a "tactile" component to finding a specimen that grabs you - a specimen has to have the right "feel" in addition to being attractive. But as was mentioned, most dealers acknowlege this and are very accomodating about returning a piece if it's less than perfect. It seems to me that the extra costs of shippping/return/insurance aren't significantly greater than the price of admission to shows, so not only could one apply the amount saved from not traveling to shows to buying more or better pieces, but having extra cash should also justify risking a relatively small amount of money now and again for the privilege of viewing a specimen in private (where it can be evaluated in one's own way and at one's own speed) and without pressure. Plus, as Jordi mentioned it can be as much of a hassle carrying pieces home from a show as paying more to have them shipped and taking time to rewrap and mail them for a return. I find that direct interaction with the dealer is every bit as personal as exchanging emails - in some respects emails could arguably be considered MORE personal, because you know that you have the dealer's full attention free from the distractions one deals with doing business at a show (such as manning a booth, greeting old friends and customers that could walk up at any time, and helping other customers who need time to think and who keep coming back with more questions). Most important of all, buying on the Internet gives me the opportunity to ask questions, research specific topics that I am focused on, and keep printed copies of all information I get in case I want to refer to it later. I am grateful to the online dealers who take the time to get to know me through emails even if we are halfway around the world, and even if we will never meet directly, and who can guide me in making my picks because they have learned what I like and what I don't like. I am happy just to expand my knowlege and to have a new piece that "feels good in my hand," no matter how it comes into my possession.

Successfully buying and selling specimens online requires a bit of strategy, and so I offer the following modest advice: to the buyer, look at the photos in actual size (critically important!) as well as enlarged, NEVER believe everything you read/see, downplay any "hype" words unless you trust the source, research or comparison-shop if you aren't sure that you've found a good piece, ask questions, share your gut reactions with the dealer if you're comfortable doing so and if they might help, remember that there will ALWAYS be other "wow" specimens if you miss out on one, don't sweat small stuff like shipping costs, and above all trust your instincts! - they are every bit as good whether you are studying a photo or browsing at a show (this applies as much to sticking with dealers who make you feel comfortable as to picking out specimens). To the dealer, my advice is to be upfront and honest in your descriptions and recommendations, give as much detail as you can, avoid using terms such as "best ever," "you won't find another one like it," or "much better in person" unless you truly believe them, get to know your customers' tastes, advise but don't push, be patient, tell us (buyers) what you like about a specimen, keep a permanent photo gallery of your favorites that we can refer to, and share any stories (history or background) you find interesting - some of us enjoy reading and learning from them, and they can make a lot of difference in influencing a sale!

As I said in the beginning, I am an intermediate-level collector. I don't claim to be an expert on judging quality or spotting treasures, and have no illusions that my small collection will someday end up in a museum, so nabbing the best of the bunch at shows is not all that important to me. I haven't made arrangements with any dealers to set aside special pieces for me - I don't know many very well and most I have met only recently. I'm not wealthy enough to go after any "trophies." I admit that I rely heavily (sometimes too much) on instinct and emotions - if I like something enough, and my gut says to act, I buy it. If it's not overpriced that's better, and if I learn new things from viewing it or from its story that's the best. For a number of reasons I don't travel much outside of business, I dislike crowds and pressure, and there is only one major show that comes within easy distance of where I live (and that is never scheduled at a time when I can attend it). I buy almost exclusively from the Internet these days and am as comfortable doing so as I am ordering clothes or books and sending stuff back if I don't like it. Extra costs for shipping etc. are minor. My circumstances and approach don't resonate with everyone, but my experience buying minerals online has for the most part been very positive, and there are a select few dealers whom I now count as friends. Hopefully we will meet each other some day, somewhere....meanwhile you have my sincerest thanks and will continue earning my business.
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PostPosted: Sep 15, 2006 06:04    Post subject: Re: A Fifth Perspective  

Hi TAK,

I agree absolutely with most of your opinions.

Also I noted your suggestions for dealers. I agree that "best ever," "you won't find another one like it," or similar hyperbolic words can't be used to describe just medium to good specimens.
I agree also that every one have his own rhythms, and some times (or frequently) shows are hardly stressing, although as Wendell points out on the article, shows have no substitute in terms of social aspect and them are part of our mineral culture.
Both Internet and Shows should co-exist and, in my opinion, both can work very well together with a mutual synergy.
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Tracy




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PostPosted: Sep 16, 2006 11:45    Post subject: An afterthought  

Jordi, glad to know that you share most of my opinions! :) Co-existence and syergy make sense to me.

In the article there were remarks about how dealers don't bring all their pieces to shows. My assumption to is that dealers don't list everything on websites either. As both an Internet and major show dealer, could you please comment on what fraction of an inventory I am likely to be viewing at a show versus when browsing a website? I am curious to know whether the difference is really significant. Thanks.
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PostPosted: Sep 17, 2006 14:32    Post subject: Re: An afterthought  

The difference exist, but is no so significant as the specimens offered on line needs to have a minimal quality standards and needs also to be more or less perfect. On shows frequently the offer is a kind of mess of a lot of different quality specimen's levels.
Of course we don't talk about the "trophy specimens" usually no offered on line due the risks involved with its shipping and the difficulties to sell them on line, as the customers of the "trophy" specimens tends to do his purchases, or by personal appointments or on the shows, but no frequently by Internet.
To resume it I can't say a precise figure, as some dealers propose near all his stuff on line and some others propose just a minor part. The balance could be something around 30-40 % of the total inventories, but it is impossible for me to be sure of it.

Jordi

TAK from NJ wrote:
______________________________________________________________________

> Jordi, glad to know that you share most of my opinions! :) Co-existence
> and syergy make sense to me.
>
> In the article there were remarks about how dealers don't bring all their
> pieces to shows. My assumption to is that dealers don't list everything
> on websites either. As both an Internet and major show dealer, could you
> please comment on what fraction of an inventory I am likely to be viewing
> at a show versus when browsing a website? I am curious to know whether
> the difference is really significant. Thanks.
______________________________________________________________________
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PostPosted: Sep 20, 2006 12:00    Post subject: Re: Opinions about Mineralogical Record's Article.  

Internet is just a tool that it can be used for everybody, both for dealers or for costumers or whatever who want. It's what it is, and the fact that it exist it is wonderful.
The fact is to learn to get all its profits, that is the point in what all the opinions are discussing on, and as it frequently happens is very useful to use common sense. That can be disturbed for the avidity to get new specimens or for the exciting feeling of desire for one sample and decide if we spend the money on it or not, specially due the afraid that somebody else could take it first.
It's true that probably the main part of the prices that we can see in minerals are justified and in fact are not expensive though just by the offer and demand's law. But it's clear that though are not expensive (if a mineral is beautiful, desirable and rare is logically high priced), the fact is that you have to spend money for them and in some cases too much. I'm sure that in many cases a real economic effort is done to purchase a desired specimen.
Anyway, we can´t forget that in some cases, somebody can see this fact as an investment to get economic benefits in the future.

Jordi Deusedes
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PostPosted: May 28, 2007 13:39    Post subject: Buying online versus... what exactly?  

I started collecting minerals some 50 years ago. I was lucky to live somewhat near a small, but good "rock shop" that offered some really fine specimens. Through the years, however, I have not always been so lucky and my collecting and collection suffered for it. If you didn't live near a "show" city, major museum, or specimen-oriented rock shop your collecting opportunities were generally quite limited.

With the advent of on-line collecting, however, all that has changed. My collection has grown exponentially in the past ten years in both size and quality, due to my buying of specimens on-line. Of course you need to look before you leap, so to speak. I now have a core group of dealers that I do business with. Among a few others, these include Rob Lavinsky, Kevin Ward, Dan Weinrich, and Jordi Fabre. I trust these people. I have found them to have accurate descriptions and photos as well as fair prices and business practices.

Your chances of getting burned on-line may be a bit greater than at a show or shop. I don't mineral shop on eBay for just that reason. But that's a whole different topic! As always... buyer beware.
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PostPosted: May 28, 2007 15:48    Post subject: Buying online versus....  

Jordi,

you mentioned trophy specimens not being sold online.... do you think that will still be the case in the (near) future ? Obviously many of the trophy collectors are older... not all but many.. obviously internet is always a bit more of an issue in that age group.. though that is disappearing quickly.

I recently heard that even colored diamonds (50.000 $ and up) are sold over the internet these days.. granted.. more standardization (though not as much as you'd think).. but.. couldn't you do the same ? What if you come across a top piece and a chinese collectors knows your reputation.. uses the social network the internet can be.. (i.e. reads comments from the community) and takes the step to have the speciment either mailed, or picked up at the next show (still internet would drive the show-sale).

There;s always a demand for trophy pieces.. so if the competition gets so fierce (more wealthy buyers) internet could become a "first movers advantage" and things could shift very quickly (why wait until a show.. if you can get a prepayment/deposit now ?)

With online video, high res images.. you can do a lot !

Patrick
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John S. White
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PostPosted: May 29, 2007 04:48    Post subject: Buying online versus  

The situation that Patrick describes already exists. Dealers have favored customers whom they notify via email with photos when they have new trophy specimens, but this is not what the internet sales discussion is all about. Conventional internet sales, as described by Jordi, claim the advantage of being "democratic", meaning that everyone sees the new listings at more or less the same time and the early bird gets the worm, so to speak.

This is radically different from what Patrick is describing, if I understand him correctly.

John

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Carles Curto
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PostPosted: May 29, 2007 12:27    Post subject: Buying on line versus...  

Why “versus”?
Amateurs (and professionals too) has different forms to access to the pieces. A lot of people hasn’t good places near home to self-collect, some other hasn’t good shops or even good shows near. For they, internet is an open window to minerals of all over the world.
I believe that mineral trade, in all its aspects, can be considered as a nice mix of opportunities. In fact, the taste of collectors is made of a continuate contact with specimens and internet is just one of the various ways to watch, to know and eventually obtain a wide variety minerals of a lot of qualities and prices, and, at the same time it allows to obtain information (if you need it) about the offered or referenced species.
And I repeat, why “versus”? Internet is a quicly and continuously chanching metod. Actually is very different that just few years ago and I presume that it will be very different in next years. At the same time, digital photography an easy and quick metod to obtain and present good pictures and made possible good web pages and a better appearance between picture and the especimen on hand.
It is true that personal contact, on shops and shows, adds a warmer feelig. It allows the possiblilities of encounters, comments, conversations about a lot of other questions and themes (even not strictly mineralogic or commercial)... It is true, yes, shows are places to meet people, but actually, as most of situations and circumstances of our life, the collectionism of minerals is also changing and now my impression is that amateur mineralogy is taking new ways. Better? Worst ways? I don’t know, but, in any case (and this forum is a good example) internet also creates new platforms to contrast opinions and knowledge. Time place thinks (and persons) in their right place.
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PostPosted: May 30, 2007 14:00    Post subject: Re: Buying online versus  

Patrick,

John is right, what I described on my position in the Internet's sell article is the opposite that you mention. I comsider that one of the Internet's sells advantage for customers could be the "democratic" fact that, as John say, the early bird gets the worm.

About the Internet's possibilities, I agree with you that them are enormous, but, just to mention an example, I read your post two days ago, but as I had so much work preparing my new update I had not time at all to write my answer to you until now, although I was very interested to do it. I mean that Internet request a lot of time, so not too much chances for me to search the potential new features that you mention because I have time just to do my regular activity, so no possibilities for me to create online videos, for example. People not merged in the Internet business can't probably imagine how much time and work it request, specially if you want to do it properly.

Jordi
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Jon Mommers




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PostPosted: Jun 08, 2008 00:56    Post subject: Re: Opinions about Mineralogical Record's Article.  

The internet has been a great source of pleasure for me both in regards to the ease of access of information about minerals/ mineralogy and the opportunity to build my collection and keep up with what is new in the mineral market place.

I have been collecting for more than thirty years now, I have had the pleasure of attending Tucson, Denver and many other shows outside of Australia. Costs both financially and in time preclude travel to the same extent these days.

The internet has revitalised my passion in minerals and this can be said about quite a few of my friends as well. Never before have we had the opportunity to see such an array of diverse specimens (and prices) whenever we wish.

I regularly buy on the internet, like any other consumer, have learnt to do my homework in regards to both the sellers and statements made about the materials being offered.

This however is no different to attending a show in person......... I am sure we all at some time have experienced the dealer offering up very poor quality material as being the best and finest available and if you buy it now( 3 other people have already expressed interest... so you better hurry up) , you will a discount of ??? dollars.

I understand and have seen dropping attendances at local shows, from my geographically isolated position, much of this can be attributed to clubs not meeting the needs of / or lack of understanding of their audience.

Here in Australia, open air tailing gating / car boot mineral/ rock/ fossil shows have really taken off in the last couple of years... no halls for dealers. The range and quality of material, predominately local is immense. Collectors see it as a level playing field and the social aspects are played up. It is amazing what can be found, at the Palmer Rockswap I picked up a 3 cm Chalcocite crystal from Queensland, no damage and great platina, as well as a group of Alabandite crystals on matrix 7 x 11cm. Also some nice Gypsum groups at AUD $3 each( about 2 euro's).

It was fun in the sun and a great chance to catch up with old friends. A number of specimens on offer were from Europe and USA, that had been traded for cash or rocks over the internet.

I should add that I make my living from selling minerals and fossils these days, although not on the inter-net. I successfully ran mineral shows ( 4 to 6 a year) in 3 states between 1983 and 1995. I loath the politics associated with this industry. I love the social interaction associated with mineral collecting almost as much as, my minerals, related books and paraphernalia.

The inter-net has allowed me to expand my passion and develop so many new facits to my collection.

Cheers

Jon
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Konstantinos Ch.




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PostPosted: Jun 08, 2008 09:08    Post subject: Re: Opinions about Mineralogical Record's Article.  

Hello!

I've never looked at the internet as a much different market than the "in-person" market. Thankfully, the policy of most dealers who work online is taking back a specimen that doesn't please the collector and refund. Yes, there is always the loss of shipping costs (especially on heavy pieces) but this depends more or less on the discussion you had with the seller before the purchase. A series of critical questions about the specimen will help you understand if you really need it or not. This makes it a little hard for dealers, but on the other hand it's the way to build a successful realtionship with the customer.

A good picture can give you a good idea of the specimen and followed by an accurate description you'll be able to know much more about the specimen than if you had seen it in person. I pick specimens from the source and I usually pick specimens that look ecxellent, then when I check them at home I can see some defects. Furthermore, dealers are human as well and they make mistakes.They may miss a detail when they look at a specimen and give a less accurate description (especially when they have to describe thousands of specimens and the time of inspection for everyone of them is decreased). When you buy a specimen online and you get something that doesn't fit exactly the description, this doesn't always means that the dealer has cheated on you! However, if after a two or three unsuccessfull purchases you see that the dealer provides you with material that doesn't fit your tastes, stop buying from this person and find some other dealer. Cheating can occur online as well as in-person. We cannot avoid it.

My comment on "Trophy" pieces: I don't think that such pieces really exist. Well, yes, there are specimns that everyone would agree that loook great, but is it what you had been looking for for two years or so? I'm trying to say that evryone of us has different taste and what we see for sale is not nessecerily a "less-than-throphy" specimen. There is the "hand-by-hand" sale between the dealers and big-spenders collectors. That's where the so-called Trophy specimens go, but don't forget that a seller will remember what those collectors need and will keep it for them. This doesn't mean that we all have the same taste as those collectors. So, a specimen shown on the net is not less valuable than those specimens, if it satisfies our taste.

I've seen increadible pieces on the internet and not always so expensive and then seen them in a "World-Class" collection.

My advice: Treat the Net Market as every other market. When you like a piece and you can afford it, just ask a full description and if all is as good, buy it. Ask a safe way of shipping. If the piece is not what you needed, return it and ask for refund. Don't wonder too much if the piece is a trophy-one! If you like it, it is a trophy for you and its YOUR collection-you are the one who need to like it! Prefer sellers who proved to be honest to you and feedback to your fellow collectors sellers that you are not satisfied by. This will make more and more dealers honest, if they wanna have clients. Be a good client and always ask kindly what you really need from a seller. Dealers are not prophetes to know what you need if you don't describe it. Don't ask for a discount when you are not buying a significant amount of specimens or if you don't paying a significant amount of money. Mineral dealing is not an easy job and has a lot of risk, so such discounts are not always possible.

all the best!
-Kostas.
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Les Presmyk




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PostPosted: May 18, 2009 11:59    Post subject: Re: Opinions about Mineralogical Record's Article.  

The ability to buy minerals without having to physically see them first has been with the collecting community as long as there has been a postal service. Up until 20 years ago, this part of the hobby was conducted by those dealers willing to spend the time and effort to put together mailing lists and collectors willing to acqurie specimens that way. Obviously, that limited some of the species they could receive but there are many collectors who have built collections that way. Not all of us were lucky enough to be born in Phoenix, Arizona where the Tucson Show was only two hours away.

Twenty years ago, with the advent of video cameras, now a collector could receive a video of a number of specimens being offered for sale. Ten years ago, we watched as the internet became the newest tool to sell minerals. Just like shows, these are all tools that allow dealers and collectors to interact and make deals. Some collectors love shows, other abhor them. Some collectors like buying over the internet and others do not. One is not better than the other, just different. The dealers are no better or worse, because they choose one or more venues to sell their specimens. Finally, there are good dealers and bad, good collectors and bad. The internet does not define the abilities and ethics of a dealer or collector.
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