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A general guide for using the Forum with some rules and tips
To Enhance or Not to Enhance that is the question!!
  
  Index -> Conserving, Preparing and Cleaning Minerals
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marvinlewinsky




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PostPosted: Feb 14, 2020 20:50    Post subject: To Enhance or Not to Enhance that is the question!!  

I was looking at an episode of “A look inside the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show 2020 1 of 3” by KGUN9 and saw Dr. Pete Megaw speak about a massive native gold specimen from Australia. Apparently, the specimen was washed with a special chemical to remove quartz to expose more gold.

I thought how genuine is the specimen? Gold yes but crafted in a way to make it look appealing to the eye! It looked nothing like that when it was extracted.

So, I ask when is a prepared specimen just an artifact of the mineral ‘preparers’ mind compared with what a mineralogist would consider scientifically important. It becomes clear that those who professionally prepare (‘alter’) minerals for display exercise a lot of poetic license simply to enhance a specimen for sale. Was the famous Rhodochrosite snail specimen really just a nice specimen before being prepared for display?
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SteveB




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PostPosted: Feb 15, 2020 01:08    Post subject: Re: To Enhance or Not to Enhance that is the question!!  

So you expect every specimen to be attached to a half ton boulder and/or be enclosed in a bowling ball size mass of dirts and clays?

every specimen is cleaned and by your definition "enhanced". find another hobby if you see anything wrong with cleaning. Particularly if as it seems you're complaining because you dont have the tools and skill to clean as good as someone else. smells like jealousy. Its cleaning, not enhancement. enhancement is chemically altering the specimen beyond its natural state. The gold you refer to IS precisely that shape by nature, and removing the natural matrix of any specimen is difficult and can often damage the specimen itself. If they melted/dissolved out the gold and recast it into a form thats NOT a specimen its a manmade item. Removing the quartz you see the entire natural formation instead of only a part of it. Any chemical or mechanical shaping of a specimen is not natural but to remove matrix and/or less attractive parts of a specimen is common practice for aestheitc reasons which in turn feed into monetary value because we are stupid humans in that respect. When you chip off a specimen from a rock wall you are already by your definition enhancing the specimen. Maybe I'm missing something but I dont see your title and question makes any sense as an issue to discuss.
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Jordi Fabre
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PostPosted: Feb 15, 2020 06:17    Post subject: Re: To Enhance or Not to Enhance that is the question!!  

SteveB,

Please remember that Marvin already said in his first post:

marvinlewinsky wrote:
Hello Everyone:

I am new to minerals, so my knowledge about the science of minerals is still evolving...

so, probably is not familiar with many of the guidelines common to us...
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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Feb 15, 2020 10:55    Post subject: Re: To Enhance or Not to Enhance that is the question!!  

....once one takes a mineral or a crystal out of the Earth one could validly say it has been 'enhanced' and 'altered from its natural state'.
....everyone seems to have their own 'boundaries' as to what is permissible [or not] in further 'enhancing' or 'altering' a specimen.....although there IS somewhat of a consensus among museums and better/serious collectors and dealers.
....Personally, I'm OK with dissolving matrix to expose gold, silver or other metallics....but rarely OK with dissolving matrix to expose most other xx and minerals - with some exceptions.
....while gold nuggets exist and even gold wire and gold xx exist without dissolving anything, most gold is hidden inside of quartz or other matrix and would not be seen if the matrix were not partly dissolved. It is a personal and aesthetic question, I think.
....the range of alterations of mineral specimens is wide and most [I think] are over the 'foul line'...but many others think otherwise.
....many dealers spend great time and expense to enhance and prepare a specimen to look better and to get a better price. Some of this I agree with and have done to a limited extent with my own collection; others I do not agree with....and there is no official body to declare what is OK and what is not...you are on your own here, along with everyone else.
....the enhancements range from only taking a mineral out of its original position in the Earth to complete fake combinations using glues and other tricks to create artificial xx and groupings...and everything in between.
....after some time and experience with what kinds of things are done and how often - as well as what the alternatives would be, you will have a better idea to decide for yourself what is [for you] OK and not OK.....
.....this, like several other aspects of mineral collecting and display is quite subjective....
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Jesse Fisher




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PostPosted: Feb 15, 2020 11:49    Post subject: Re: To Enhance or Not to Enhance that is the question!!  

I think that one can safely say that as soon as a mineral specimen is pulled from the ground and the mud washed off, it has been enhanced. And I am not aware of any collectors who keep balls of mud in their displays! Mineral collecting is an individual pursuit and (hopefully) most collectors will, with experience, come to define in their own mined just what they want to achieve with their collections. Some collect with a scientific or historical approach, where-as others are primarily concerned with aesthetics. To say that one is more valid than others would be entering into the realm of elitism, which I personally abhor.

The current paradigm in the collecting community seems to be the search for perfection, and many specimens that reach the market have been engineered within an inch of their lives (so to speak). To many collectors, this is acceptable, and a large industry has grown up around specimen treatment and "enhancement" in recent years. This is simply commerce in action - giving the customer what he/she wants. As long as there is reasonable transparency, I don't think I can personally object, even if it may not represent my goals in collecting.
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marvinlewinsky




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PostPosted: Feb 15, 2020 15:11    Post subject: Re: To Enhance or Not to Enhance that is the question!!  

I thank you all for your wonderful comments, but please understand that I am new to mineral collecting. I will try to address all the comments raised in the thread.

Firstly, I am not suggesting that collectors should not wash specimens to reveal the beauty that lies within. Cleaning dirt from a specimen is just common sense and good practice. And I know it is impractical to collect boulders. The enhancements I am talking about involve a vendor using excessive poetic license to produce a specimen that did occur naturally. For example, changing the appearance of a Celestite geode by removing crystals that were not as good as the neighboring crystals. Altering a fine amethyst with calcite geode by removing those calcite crystals thought to inhibit the beauty of the specimen. Creating a fine Quartz scepter by removing material that was a natural part of the specimen. And here I am not talking about dust, dirt or grit. I am talking about creating a work of art by altering the fundamental appearance of the specimen – not dirt, grit or mud – but actual crystals of a particular mineral species.

Secondly, I cannot think of anything more elitist that high-end mineral collecting, perhaps mineral collecting in general. The theme of the 2020 Tucson Mineral show is about World Class Minerals owned by World Class mineral collectors. Only a small percentage of all mineral collectors will ever become world class collectors unless they win or inherit a lot of money. Most minerals are just luxury items, and here I am excluding minerals acquired by Universities and Museums for the purpose of scientific research.

My next-door neighbor payed me a visit yesterday and I could not resist the temptation to show him my mineral specimens. He asked about the cost and when I told him he nearly had a seizure. He could not believe that I would pay what I did for a very shiny ‘rock’ that simply sits on my desk. When I told him (and showed him) that some minerals cost much, much more he was amazed. It is a fact that anyone who wants to develop a display quality mineral collection will need to spend at the very least $300 for each specimen of any size. Building such a collection is a financial challenge even for professional folk on good middle-class incomes. Building a world-class collection is an even greater financial challenge. I am lucky that in retirement I am debt free and I have the support of children and grand-children who are more than happy to help me build a display quality collection of minerals. Sadly, not every collector is in the same position!
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Bob Carnein




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PostPosted: Feb 15, 2020 15:52    Post subject: Re: To Enhance or Not to Enhance that is the question!!  

Interesting comments. To me, "world class" is completely relative. Who knows which collections and collectors will seem to be "world class" a hundred years from now? Is monetary value as important as scientific and historical importance? Some collectors are more concerned about buying "investment grade" minerals than those "plain Jane" specimens whose rarity greatly exceeds many of the spectacular pieces. More power to them, but, for me, that doesn't necessarily make their collections interesting. So, who's to say what is or isn't world class? Remember, too, that, once a collection is dispersed, it's no longer "world class".
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Riccardo Modanesi




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PostPosted: Feb 17, 2020 12:34    Post subject: Re: To Enhance or Not to Enhance that is the question!!  

Hi to everybody!
As a gemmologist I can tell you what follows: enhanced gemstones MUST be certified as treated. A treatment grading MUST be given as well: for instance an enhancement by Opticon in an emerald is a very common one; almost no one emerald isn't enhanced this way, and it should appear in an analysis document. Even heat treatments in quartzes which turn amethysts in citrine are to be disclosed. Summarizing: the trend and therefore the aim is to offer a full disclosure to the consumer.
Greetings from Italy by Riccardo.

_________________
Hi! I'm a collector of minerals since 1973 and a gemmologist. On Summer I always visit mines and quarries all over Europe looking for minerals! Ok, there is time to tell you much much more! Greetings from Italy by Riccardo.
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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Feb 17, 2020 13:03    Post subject: Re: To Enhance or Not to Enhance that is the question!!  

I personally think it would be GREAT if the same was done with mineral specimens, but for the most part [although far from always] such 'refinements' and 'enhancements' are not mentioned. The novice or even few-years-in collector may not even be aware of how colors can be changed, enhanced; how repairs can be made to disappear and other things done. As long as one is open and honest and one likes the outcome, I think most will be satisfied except the purists who think that nothing should be changed except perhaps cleaning and trimming - but even there people get into hot battles about where to draw the lines......carpe diem


Riccardo Modanesi wrote:
Hi to everybody!
As a gemmologist I can tell you what follows: enhanced gemstones MUST be certified as treated. A treatment grading MUST be given as well: for instance an enhancement by Opticon in an emerald is a very common one; almost no one emerald isn't enhanced this way, and it should appear in an analysis document. Even heat treatments in quartzes which turn amethysts in citrine are to be disclosed. Summarizing: the trend and therefore the aim is to offer a full disclosure to the consumer.
Greetings from Italy by Riccardo.
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