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Tucson, questionable prices?
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Tracy




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PostPosted: Mar 02, 2008 16:50    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Chris - I did not mean to give any commentary on who's responsible for driving prices so high. I am sure the trophy-hunters had a lot to do with inflation of prices worldwide. My point was simply that they are entitled to be trophy-hunters just as you are entitled to field-collect and share a laugh with dealers/other collectors. The extra zeroes which get tacked on to price tags may be unfortunate for the rest of us, but it accomplishes nothing to speak badly about people for doing what they like to do in the way they like to do it. It is more productive, in my opinion, to accept the phenomenon for what it is and adjust to it (e.g., by giving more business to dealers whose prices are reasonable) - the fact that they exist need not take anything away from your enjoyment of collecting.

We can't as individuals do much about the laws of supply and demand. I'm no economist, but maybe the rise in prices has more to do with an increased interest in minerals (more precisely, in collecting anything) and a shift in society's attitudes toward using disposable iincome than with trophy-hunters, who have been and will always be a subset of all collectors.
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PostPosted: Mar 04, 2008 10:44    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Hi there, perhaps a very late comment, but I had been travelling.

I am not sure we're discussing a moot point. I personally think what people have to get used to is that high end mineral collecting is no longer an obscure niche for scientific minded lovers and some incidental rich collectors with instant fame, but that it has entered a more global high end collectible arena with lots of deep pocketed buyers.

People should get over it. All this doom and gloom is nonsense in my opinion. If you're a self collector, have things really changed because there's a Westward Look ? I don't think so.. to use a very old expression: "It's the experience stupid !" People collect minerals for many reasons, can afford different price levels, with dealers operating in different segments, and where is that different from any other collectible, even from real estate ?

About Jordi's ARP: Arguments that were frequently given against an ARP:
1) that minerals are individual pieces unlike stamps and
2) that you can always find a better one.

That confuses me for several reasons.

First I seriously doubt whether it is not possible to categorize minerals and create a certain bandwidth for that mineral in that category. Obviously, as with everything, the top will have a different dynamics, just as with art or anything of top quality that is scarce and desirable.

Second, the fact that one can find a better piece *in the future* does not negate the possibility of defining an ARP *in the present*.

I sometimes get the impression that the perceived uniqueness of a collectible someone is involved is, is an argument against any type of increased transparency or standardization.... because WE are so unique..... until someone actually does it. Diamonds were perceived as an emotional gift, a sign of love blablabla.. until Blue Nile came along, and oh shock, diamonds are actually close to being a commodity (in fact their prices behave very similarly to traditional commodities such as potatoes and corn)

My point being ? Mineral prices behave like any other type of collectible. Nothing new, nothing strange, and nothing will change.

Patrick
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Tracy




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PostPosted: Mar 04, 2008 11:19    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Like Patrick, I too agree that mineral collecting is not as radically different from any other type of collecting as has been suggested. Granted the parameters used to set standards for minerals are highly complex, and not as objective as with other collectabilia, but the dynamics of collecting are the same across the board. Prices go up and down based on overall interest (supply and demand, there will always be trophy hunters, there are high-end and low-end collectors, etc. The nice thing about minerals is that (speaking ideally) when the prices get ridiculously high one can always shift to field-collecting and away from retail purchase - in that sense it is different from baseball cards or coins. But collecting is collecting. And as I said yesterday: when things get insane, one ajdusts accordingly.
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Les Presmyk




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PostPosted: Mar 04, 2008 13:01    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

There are parameters common to all collecting hobbies. There has to be a supply, there have to be people who are interested in building a collection, and there has to be a means to put the two together. With coins, it is as easy as looking at your change every day. With minerals it is a bit more arduous. One other area mineral collecting is somewhat unique is that the supply is as close to limitless as any supply can be unless you decide to collect snowflakes or grains of sand. I believe this truly differentiates us from other hobbies. In the case of art, coins or stamps, the supply of something is finite. In the case of stamps or coins, there are production records. In the case of art, there is knowledge as to how much of a particular artist's work was produced.

In minerals, just the opposite is true. I will cite one example, Cavansite. 25 years ago, the best this mineral got was in microcrystals and as blue smears on a rock. It was of scientifc interest and only collected by Oregon or vanadium specialists and those who were trying to build a collection of one of each kind of mineral.

Today, Cavansite graces the cabinets of many collectors because a new source was discovered in India that has produced breathtaking specimens of individual crystals and large crystallized blue balls on white matrix. This is not something you can do in any of the hobbies that already have catalogs and pricing schedules.

There are no recognized authorities that everyone will accept as having the final say in developing this sort of pricing structure. The futility of trying to develop Jordi's idea of an ARP is that it will be outdated as soon as it gets published and no one will use it anyway. Getting back to the idea of free markets, this is something that would have been done already if there was any interest in it. If we accept that this ARP will have a range in prices, what is the point if, for a particular size, say a 5cm by 5cm azurite rose from Bisbee, Arizona, I can justify prices that range from $50 to $45,000?

I am all for letting the free market decide the pricing. While I might not buy from Dealer A, I might be able to get a good deal from Dealer B and go home and trim a keeper off that huge chunk of rock. I submit that the "high" prices benefit the hobby because more and better specimens are recovered and enter the market. The down side is it changes how each of us now have to address our collection, either by changing directions, size, quantity acquired or simply getting out more and having the joy of doing more self-collecting.
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Tracy




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PostPosted: Mar 05, 2008 10:01    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Les -

I would ask you to consider the following examples:

- In 2007, the most popular jersey in the National Football League (in terms of sales) was that of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. Today Vick is serving jail time for running an illegal dofighting operation and his jerseys are pulled from the shelves because nobody wants them any more (I imagine similar occurrences are taking place with Barry Bonds and possibly Roger Clemens apparel)

- when the Titanic was recovered from deep in the sea, many plates and cups and silverware designed for this ship were found inside Some of these (intact or damaged) have found their way to trophy collectors of porcelain, or to fans of naval history, or to those who are interested in events of the 19th century

- archaeologists continue to uncover stashes of ancient artifacts such that it is now easier to acquire Roman coins and perfume bottles of good quality

- when Prince William appeared on the verge of becoming engaged to Kate Middleton, a wide variety of commemorative items was produced in anticipation of the great event. The Prince then broke up and susequently reuinited with Ms Middleton; the demand (and value) for these collectibles went high, dropped low, and now presumably is on the rise again

- my rookie card for Montreal Canadiens goaltender Ken Dryden was, last time I checked, worth about 1/3 of its peak value, because whereas Dryden will always be remembered as (arguably) the greatest goalie of a generation, Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils appears poised to go down in history as (arguably) the greatest goalie of my lifetime. And, someone else will inevitably come along to take Brodeur's place at the top of the pile.

- people are still so fascinated with Elvis Presley that someone paid money to acquire the remnants of a grilled cheese sandwich he once ate (what a **unique** prize for the collector!)

- as a hypothetical: a music student poring through old scores might at any time discover a symphony written by an unknown composer and never performed, which might one day prove to be a masterpiece and catapult this composer from obscurity to prominency

- new initiatives are constantly being thought up to generate "collectibles" that will raise money for global causes (e.g., athletes wearing pink uniforms or using pink equipment then auctioning it off to raise money for breast cancer; Project Red to help end world hunger)

I spent my morning train ride thinking up other examples which I might use to challenge your statement that mineral collecting differs from other types of collections because the supply of minerals is infinite. Virtually every type of collecting I can think of is influenced by an infinite supply of historical events, and the passage of time plays a huge role in deciding what is highly desirable and what is barely worth consideration at any moment - this applies to minerals as much as to anything else. At its core, collecting is collecting (and tangentially, economics is economics).

This was written very hastily but hopefully my point is made...
Tracy
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PostPosted: Mar 05, 2008 13:14    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Tracy is correct in stating, "collecting is collecting and economics is economics". I appreciate the time and effort that went into the list of collectables but I believe the list supports my position about mineral collecting being different. All of the items listed were man-made and in some instances can be easily produced again if market demand increases. Some cannot but even in the case of the Titanic artifacts or the Roman coins, there is a finite quantity that will ever be found.

There are people who still have Michael Vicks jerseys because they collect Atlanta Falcons memorabilia or they want the jerseys of all starting quarterbacks or all sports figures convicted of felonies. His conviction does not change the direction of those who collect but it certainly changed the collectable or marketing status of those objects.

Twenty five years ago a world class cavansite crystal had to be viewed under magnification. Today that is certainly not the case. Even I might concede that the total number of mineral specimens is finite because, after all, the earth does represent a finite amount of raw material. However, no one can ever say that this specimen or that one is absolutely the best of the mineral species that will ever come out. It may be the best known but time and again, we have seen the world's best eclipsed by the next pocket.

Several years ago I listened as several collectors debated the list of the world's 100 best tourmaline specimens. An interesting discussion, much like trying to determine how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, until I realized one of the participants was only interested in being able to market their tourmaline specimen as being on that list.

The original question that started this conversation had to do with the high prices at the 2008 Tucson Show. There are plenty of minerals at all price levels for all collectors. Now, the current market may not allow one to collect whatever they want, say world-wide azurite or tourmaline cabinet specimens unless you have a lot of money. You can go out and build one heck of a collection of Indian zeolites or Chinese minerals relatively cheaply. Maybe wulfenite is a bit pricey but sphalerites certainly are not.
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PostPosted: Mar 05, 2008 16:16    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

I still see things from a different perspective than yours, but instead of counterarguing why don't we agree to meet in the middle. Minerals collecting is in many respects different from other types of collections, and in many respects not very different at all....?

And then, let's get back to the original topic of inflated prices. :-)
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PostPosted: Mar 05, 2008 17:37    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Les,

On the start of this trend James said: "...and cannot see why they are justified...", I think that this is the real center of this so intense discussion.

Les, it is a pleasure read your posts as well as see your display in The Westward Look. Your prices, and other people's prices there looks fair. For me it is not a kind of general illness on the whole mineral community, but time to time some prices related with some qualities looks strange to me and, as far as I know, to many other people too.

Gail, Les, you are wonderful people enjoying the beauty of the minerals. I'm just concerned for the possibility that some wrong prices could disturb the pleasure that the minerals give us.

Jordi
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PostPosted: Mar 05, 2008 20:35    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Les,

First: when I spoke about bandwitdh, I obviously did not have a bandwidth of 50-45.000 in mind. I am sure that would be quite clear from my post. But in case that was not, let me make it clear now: For a specific aesthetic level, a certain size, a certain amount of damage (free) and add a few more factors, a bandwidth can be defined. It happens all the time.. at least for mid range and lower level specimens. Perhaps not for the top. Yet it is funny, when I talked to other collecors (I am/was a member of the Crystal Gazers in San Francisco), and asked what an exclusive piece was worth there seemed to be a fair amount of concensus of what was "reasonable". So even in that top-segment I would dare to argue that some type of ARP were possible. When you ask dealers what (for a mid level mineral or lower) would be a reasonable price, you will often hear prices that lie fairly close together. Not always, but a lot more than your caricature bandwitdh of 50 -- 45.000

Second: the argument that something would have been done if there were any interest in it strikes me as absurd. According to this definition no innovation would ever take place, and I am sure Silicon Valley shows the opposite. As with many ideas, the problem lies in the execution. Not the interest.

Third: you point at the uniqueness of mineral collecting. Once again, you talk to just about any collector in any area and you will hear the same. But ok.. assuming you would have a point. What was the argument ? Cavansite.. and in general the idea: I can find a much better specimen in the future that will render the past ones "worthless". Hmmmm... let me think.. certain modern artists are not in vogue anymore because they're replaced by other, newer ones, who will be replaced by yet newer ones.. or by modern artists from China.. or.. does it sound familiar ? I am not sure which reserve is more finite: the amount of collectable cavansites or the amount of potential interesting artists any time in the future anywhere in the world. My bet would be with the cavansite.

Prices change and fluctuate and collapse, perhaps for different specific reasons, but the dynamics are very much the same. Whether I find a new Cavansite (same mineral) or I find a new artist (different artist) in either case my previous object (mineral or piece of art) can become less valuable, and, more likely than not, stay that way. As with all it all depends on the details of the dynamincs. And that is my point. Minerals are NOT a different collectable; the specifics may differ but not underlying trends.

Fourth: you use the discussion of the top 100 tourmalines as an argument. I think that's flawed again. Obviously in the top segment dynamics are different, and where a discussion or a certain amount of standardization is not possible, it does not mean that it is impossible in other segments.

Fifth: you argue that high prices are necessary and push for high quality specimens. That may or may not be the case (I could easily argue either way), but in fact at least one practical examples seems to indicate something else: Tanzanite was mined as a high end gemstone and Tiffany could not get the sales+mining profitable. It was only when the mass market was served that mining became so efficient that high-end tanzanite could be mined at a decent cost.

Could it be.. that dealers LOVE intransparency and anything that created transparency would undermine their position in the market ? However playing into emotions such as a hype, greed, competition and status would not ?! And.. before you mention "sour grapes".. I plan to be one of these high end collectors myself. I have absolutely no problem with free market dynamics and if collectors let their emotions overrule their brains then that is their loss. Hey.. I am sure it's not the first example where hormones took over common sense or even self preservation...(I can mention some recent examples)... but .. please.... let's call it what it is.... these emotional claims of "we're so unique" really gets old after a while, and, in fact, very transparent.
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PostPosted: Mar 05, 2008 21:00    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Once again I cannot leave this alone. I find that the debate, if that is what it is, is getting out of control. I have to say that I am absolutely, without reservations, in Les' corner, I believe he has put forth solid points that cannot, in my view, be challenged. I am not aware of a single hobby that is similar to mineral collecting except, perhaps, fossil collecting, and the same thing is happening with fossils as is happening with minerals. The cavansite example is an excellent one. Even discounting the indifferent ones from the type locality in Oregon, the first from India were pretty mediocre compared to what has appeared in recent years. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Perhaps a new pocket in India will produce cavansite balls a foot in diameter. This possibility is very real. If that occurs, then all previous cavansites will seem inferior and will suffer a loss of value. This is never going to happen with postage stamps, with coins, and other collectibles of limited production. It could happen with artifacts, because we never know what old treasures might be unearthed in the future, but it is highly unlikely that a new tomb in Egypt, for example, will be discovered that will make all previous discoveries seem second class. It could happen, but the odds are that it will not, and collecting high value items is to a certain extent a gamble that the investment is going to be a good one in the long term. In many cases, one decides what to invest in on the basis of one's expectations of how sound that investment is. Big spenders are not going to put down large amounts of money if the prospect is that what they are buying will be worth less tomorrow than it is today, regardless of what it may be.

Hope this makes sense. I am gong to go off and eat some chocalate because it is supposed to be good for my heart.

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PostPosted: Mar 05, 2008 21:24    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

I think I heard exactly the same argument in the housing market... or the stock prices of the internet start-ups in the late 90's... the point was not their expectation level.... the point was what their expectation were based on and if they operate in a unique arena or not (mineral collecting). As I wrote before: art can be replaced by other art, and modern art prices are particularly senstive to the "hype of the day". I do not see any difference in the *underlying dynamics* of finding a better quality specimen in the future. It's uncertain in either case. Prices, value, human behavior cannot be plotted that linearly. What's worthless today is worth a lot tomorrow. That may not be NEW item.. but it is a NEW VALUABLE item.

Another point in case: stamps. Where stamps have been out of fashion for a long time, suddenly stamps that had never been worth anything.. are worth a lot: a strange stamp from China in the 1960's for example. Treated with disdain. Not a real stamp. For the last 30 years, the "real stamps" (i.e, from European countries or USA) collapsed in price and suddenly this odd Chinese stamp is highly collectible because it is different and is worth a lot.

So.. I bought something.. it was worth a lot.. more and more.. and suddenly the price collapses because of replacement, change in popularity, over supply or whatever reason. It can bounce back in 10 years from now.. or it will never bounce back. THAT dynamic is common to many sectors. In minerals it's created by "a new better piece found in the future" in other segments the same dynamic is created by other factors.

Therefore the claim we're dealing with something unique here, which "cannot be challenged" (???) baffles me. There are many definitions of the words "to challenge" but one of them is "to call into question". Isn't the whole idea of a "challenge" in a debate or discussion that this does not depend on the person who gives the argument but on his "opponent" or "challenger" ? If your logic, or reasoning cannot convince the "other party" then by definition your arguments ARE (being) challenged.

Time for me to go to bed

Patrick
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PostPosted: Mar 06, 2008 03:17    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Les, Tracy, John, Patrick - why such a heated debate on the obvious question if the possibility of finding superior specimens of a given mineral will be reflected into the prices a collector is willing to pay ? I mentioned this in a post before Les and also used the Cavansite example of minerals that have fallen in price due to such a mechanism without triggering such a heated debate. Reading your posts I do not think you disagree that much, but as in many such debates you are discussing different things.
A basic uncertainty reflected in any market pricing of expensive collectibles is the question of a possible major change in the supply and demand equation in the future. As pointed out by many of you, this is not unique to minerals even if the chances of discovering unknown deposits or pockets of high quality minerals and crystals are greater than for finding hidden stashes of man-made objects. Still there are many areas of collectibles where unexpected increase in supply of high-quality objects could totally change the market - as for Cavansite. Just consider the hugh gold reserves kept by many countries in partly uncirculated old gold coins. It has happened - and will happen again that such hoards are released on the market with devastating effect on prices for such collectibles. Changes in available surplus financial rescources for investments in collectibles, changes in fashion etc.etc. may change the demand side of the equation.
Are minerals as marketed collectibles special because the possible future supply to the market of high quality specimens are more difficult to predict than for man-made objects? This is true compared to most manmade collectibles. Does this fact make minerals unique in relation to the total risk of a major change in the supply and demand equation in the future market for collectibles? Obviously not - because there are so many other factors influencing this equation and the investment risk is probably just as high for many other collectibles. Maybe this conclusion could unite us.
Back to the original thread about questionable prices based on experiences from Tucson 2008. The present dynamics in the mineral market not only results in absurd price tags on well-known aesthetic minerals with high-end dealers. Never have so many good specimens been available - and never have urban mineral collecting had such potential for the knowledgable collector. A few examples from Tucson 2008 to cheer you up - for those who are interested in other minerals than flashy Tourmalines and Emeralds: A cabinet sized specimen covered with 2 mm emerald green crystals of the rare copper-iodate Salesite from Chuquicamata for $ 25, a minature covered with Paradamite crystals from Tsumeb for $ 100, a large cabinet specimen covered with Franckeite crystals from Bolivia with old labels from the Ahlfeld collection for $225, a min.sized specimen with a 4 cm cavity covered with Tyuyamunite crystals from the Ridenaur mine for $ 20, a 5 cm group of Goosecreekite crystals on 3 cm pink Heulandite crystals in a cabinet sized cavity of Quartz crystals for $ 100, a 25 cm (!) perfect crystal of Pollucite with two gemmy, 4 cm multicoloured Elbaites perched aestetically on top of the Pollucite for $ 950. I could continue listing high-quality affordable specimens seen - and purchased - in Tucson this year. I could also list numbers of ridiciulously priced specimens seen in Tucson, but why not think positive and focus on the oportunities this great event and unique offering of minerals provides to us. Collecting minerals requires knowledge, experience with specimen quality and prices and not the least hard work in the field or by walking the motels and tents in Tucson. At the end of the day it is you, the buyer, who decides the market price of minerals by what you purchase - and what you decline to purchase.

Knut
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PostPosted: Mar 06, 2008 04:34    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Knut,

I almost agree. It's a normal trend also for man-made collectibles. Not by producing a new mineral that has not been found yet, by producing a new piece of art, or a new designer, or because fashions and tastes change. All "new" that impacts “the present” in the same way a yet-to-be-discovered-mineral does. And as with minerals the “supply” is limitless (even though the total amount of objects of one particular artist is limited. However that is the wrong group to compare it to: an artist can be replaced by another artist just as an ugly Cavansite can be replaced by a much more aesthetic new find). The fallacy of "we're being unique" is a myth that is being maintained partly because of living in a so called "echochamber" and partly because of business reasons. Nothing more.

That said, I think these are very exciting times !!! I remember the old shows in the 1970's in Holland (ok I was a very little kid so I may have some distorted memories here) where a dealer would talk about going to Mexico to get some specimens and you'd be so overwhelmed with emotions.... and where your "window" into the mineral world typically was through the limited amount of dealers at the Local/national show (almost the same since Holland is so small).

Now access changed everything. I bought some amazing Vanadinites (red, lustrous, undamaged) directly from a dealer in Morocco, who became a friend, and with whom I and my girlfriend traveled in Morocco, ate at people's homes, etc. Or my friend from Pakistan who showed me footage of how they "found" Peridot (by blowing up parts of a mountain). Almost like a documentary only you know the people in it ! Cool experiences especially when I think back to the late 1970's when I was a kid and how I saw the world then. I think I like it better where we are now (in the "mineral sense" !).

So to return to prices: if you're not moving in that top-segment scene, the "democratisation" (for lack of a better word) of mineral sales also handed you a million more options to choose from...... and that is, I think, a very positive trend indeed.

Patrick
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PostPosted: Mar 06, 2008 07:22    Post subject: High Prices.. Much Wealth  

I just saw the BBC. Moscow now has 74 billionaires, India 50-something. Forbes announced that the reason for this is that we're in the midst of a formidable, global, wealth boom, unlike ever before in history. Most wealth is self-made.

I think that says all we need to say about high prices for top specimens.

Patrick
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PostPosted: Mar 06, 2008 09:45    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

I really appreciate the discussion and debate we have going on here. Jordi, I appreciate your compliments. My point in bringing up the list of the top 100 tourmaline specimens was not to advocate trying to figure out what the top pieces are but to point out the absurdity (and the self-serving nature) of such a list. After looking at some of the arguments placed before us, I realize there may be some commonalities with some of the other hobbies.

Let's return to my example of a price range of $50 to $45,000 azurite roses How large will the list have to be in order to provide that categories that will narrow the bandwidths to something more manageable and useful? This certainly will not be as large for all of the rare minerals that are more easily categorized because pricing can be done by noting how rich or sparse the specimen is. I just think the best pricing guide is already available to us. All you have to do is attend shows and surf the web look at dealers' inventories and prices and do your own research.

We have just read anexample of what makes mineral collecting the great hobby that it is. In the midst of all of the turmoil over the apparent high prices, someone has produced a list of all of the specimens they bought at the Tucson Show and at prices they were pleased to pay. Am I shocked by some of the prices I see being paid for specimens? Absolutely! Did I buy pieces that I was not happy with the pricing? You bet. I found specimens for reasonable prices as well. The days of being able to walk onto the Tucson Show floor and find lots of bargains never existed. The first time I attended a Tucson Show (1963 or 1964) there were pieces I could afford and others that were beyond my reach. There were dealers who were known for their "high" prices and others who were more reasonable.

One last shot at a pricing guide. I am a great believer in innovation but I am also practical. The idea of a pricing list is not new. John White broached the subject in the MR thirty years ago. It did not catch on then and will not catch on now. Why? Because no one will use it. No dealer will amend their prices just because someone walks in with a pricing guide and says the amethyst is higher than my guide says it should be. No field collector will change their asking price because you show up and say that according to the guide, I should pay 25% of the retail price, not 125%. Who will be the recognized authority to produce such a guide? If we are really serious about putting together a pricing guide, we need to agree on who will put it together, the format, how will it be used, and who will use it.

Let's start with azurite since I used it as a way to set a bandwidth. We can start with categories such as roses and rosettes and crystal clusters. Then we probably should include comments about associated minerals such as malachite or cuprite or wulfenite. We need to deal with crystals on matrix or not and let us not forget luster, or lack thereof. Damage is another significant criteria ranging from perfection to Wilburs to knicks to broken crystals. We need to include size categories and size of crystals within those categoires. Do we use thumbnails, miniatures, small cabinets and cabinets or something else. For example, for a 5cm by 5cm specimen you could have (1) drusy crystals, (2) up to 1cm crystals, (3) up to 2cm crystals, (4) up to 3cm crystals and (5) up to 4cm crystals. Are we going to have a separate category for doubly-terminated crystals or partial pseudomorphing (10%, 25% and 50%)? Finally, we need to deal with locality. Does Tsumeb, Bisbee and Chessy each get separate categories or just percentage adders? What is the difference in value to a world-wide collector versus an azurite or locality specialist, or should there be any? I would certainly advocate for no locality premium because that would make my life easier (I collect only Arizona specimens).
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Tracy




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PostPosted: Mar 06, 2008 10:12    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

I am enjoying the discussion too, and I applaud absolutely everybody in this Forum for their interest and enjoyment in collecting minerals. In my own defense I never thought of my postings as heated, was simply trying to tone down some of the negativity and judgmentalism that was starting to pop up in the conversation. Having tried to make my points with at least partial success, I will go back to reading and learning now.
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Farlang




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PostPosted: Mar 06, 2008 10:27    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Les,

I like your last posting, as opposed to previous ones. About the top 100: couldn't agree more, besides, aside from satisfying someone's ego, and entering "politics" it really doesn't make much sense to decide which piece is the best. But then again.. I have never liked the Mona Lisa, even after attending hour-long lectures on the painting.

I agree with you about Tucson, noone is perfect and I shot myself several times afterwards when I had bought too much in an impulse. Then again sometimes you have to if you want the piece. So what do you do. I guess it boils down to discretionary income: if I can "play" I care a lot less than if I put my savings into it. And I also agree that it's not of this time alone.. things were the same back then, it's just that the dynamics have changed so trends become more obvious or more "amplified", which makes it look like a "new" trend but really isn't.

Finally about the guide: all valid points and a good argumentation on the topic. There is something in the gemworld though called "the Guide". And it lists prices of all types of cut stones, in all types qualities.. using a bandwidth. Funny you should mention "locality" because it is exactly such a hot topic in the gemworld. Does a Burma Ruby really command a premium, even if it is not from the classic mine in Burma ? (Absurd ofcourse). Let me absorb the criteria for a moment and post a comment later... and I understand the complexity and the size of the market (collectors) to not make this a very profitable undertaking. The fact that dealers may or may not use it, may have to do with how prices are determined: cost-driven instead of demand driven. (not including the exlusive segment once again, but let's leave that out for a moment).

An alternative would be.. to let the brain do the thinking. What I mean is this: if you create a image catalogue of in general similarly priced minerals (within a price range, normally speaking etc etc.. but those are criteria guides like "the guide" apply which has pretty much become an industry standard for gemstones).. then perhaps instead of trying to quantify a number of parameters, you'd let the brain do the pattern recognition. I have not seen any catalogue doing this but for very complex qualifications the brain is exceptionally skilled at that. You could then add percentage adders for things like locality and perhaps things that are difficult to see on images (absolutely no damage, or a slight nick/scratch).

By the way: the price should not be influenced by the type of buyer. If specialists determine market dynamics and the price is high because of it.. then world-wide collectors will have to deal with it, like or not. And vice versa. (I know that pretending to be the "ideal collector" for the dealer sometimes DOES help in pricing though :-) )

Patrick
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Les Presmyk




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PostPosted: Mar 06, 2008 10:57    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

THanks for your comments. I am shocked that people are trying to impart "locality premium" status on gemstones. Another way to attempt to get extra money out of something, I guess. You are right that if the market perceives that a locality collector will pay more for a Bisbee azurite than a more general collector, it is the general collector who has to deal with the premium.

I look forward to your additional thoughts.
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PostPosted: Mar 06, 2008 17:25    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

How about doubling the price for top pieces ? It has to do with the fact that THOSE pieces ARE the best. However the original locality (mine) is sometimes expanded to the country in general.. and a premium of say 10 % or so is often paid just because it's from that country but where other mines are not producing better quality material than other mines in other countries.

A nice recent example is Paraiba Tourmaline.. where the trade really made an effort to call everything Paraiba.. up to the point that it was discussed whether the name referred to the mineral/gem or to the locality. The premium being that the same quality cuprian tourmaline from Mozambique wouldn't sell as well as from paraiba.

More thoughts later.. I have to travel.. but I actually the thought of having images, instead of a long checklist sounds quite appealing..
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lluis




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PostPosted: Mar 07, 2008 15:23    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Good evening, Les/Patrick/List

Well, I suppose that I am one of those ill-ones that pay more for some locality.
A blue wulfenite from Tsumeb for me is a rarity and I will pay more (of course, if I could afford).
Pieces from Spanish classical localities, like Hiendelaencina, could be asked for more money, to me. And some places that I like specially (Morenci)
In gems, locality pays an extra price for the hue/colour of the piece. A pigeon-blood Burmese ruby would be top…..At least in Spain. And price would be accordingly.
But I have seen and had in hands a very decent sapphire that cost less than 30 Euros. And was not a micro. Place and opportunities.
And a maw sit sit in Spain would bear a fair price, not as high as in Asia. And nephrites that would cost a leg and an arm in other countries could be had. But ask for an Alma den decent cinnabar!

For Paribas: I (absurdidly) will pay more for a Paraiba locality elbaite than for a Madagascar colour like one…Absurdities of mankind……

Prices are what a collector wills to pay for ….
No more, no less.

On the other side, I agree with Gail. We are all in same hobby (just that I am too afraid to crawl in a mine…Well, chemist, you know, are odd…. 

By the way, Patrick, if anytime you come near Barcelona, drop me a line. You are invited (also Les, but Patrick is in Spain and Les in USA; Patrick has easier to reach me than Les  )

With best wishes

Lluís
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