Buying A Crystal – A Short Guide
Buying crystals either as a single crystal, a gemstone, or a cluster involves determining the value and comparing it to the offered price. The value of a crystal is dependant on several factors. Each of these factors should be considered when you are deciding to purchase a crystal or gemstone.
The first factor is the size of the crystal or cluster. Like many things, the larger the crystal the more it will cost PER UNIT OF WEIGHT. For example a small topaz crystal might cost $3 per gram. A larger one might be $5 per gram. If the first one weighed 10 grams it would cost $30. If the second, bigger one weighed 20 grams it would be $100. It is twice as big, but costs over three times as much.
Crystals, Gemstones and crystal clusters are often sold by weight. Here is a handy table. Read across the table. For example the first line says 1 carat is 1/5 of a gram and is 1/141 of an ounce. The second line says 5 carats is one gram and 1/28 of an ounce.
The second factor in the value of a crystal is its condition. You are concerned with both the external of the crystal and its insides. Again, like many things, damage reduces value. Since most crystals grow in the ground, they are subject to many kinds of damage. Of course, mining, cleaning, packaging, and transporting also are hazardous. Ensure you look carefully and inspect any crystal or cluster. Reputable dealers will point out nicks and abrasions, and will fully disclose damage and repair. However, as the buyer, you have to do the final inspection.
If you are buying a gemstone, it should not have external damage that is visible with a 10-power loupe. It should not have unreported internal flaws or inclusions that are visible with a 10-power loop either.
A crystal or cluster should not have damage you can see with your naked eye. Be aware most crystals and clusters have some minor abrasions and separation planes where they were dislodged. This is natural, and not considered damage, except in very expensive specimens costing in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Many, many crystals are included. You should understand how included a specimen is. Heavily included crystals are of significantly less value than one that is internally flawless. However, don’t overlook a good crystal just because it has a few internal features. Just be aware of how they affect the value. The amethyst crystal pictured here has sharp crystal edges with no abrasions. It has some minor inclusions that are eye visible and should be considered in setting its value.
Rarity and Popularity
The next factors to consider in determining the value of a crystal is the rarity of the mineral and the demand in the marketplace. A diamond crystal will cost a lot more than a sulfur one. Diamonds are considerably more rare. Jadeite costs considerably more than Nephrite. It is considerably more rare.
It takes a bit of research to find out how rare a crystal or mineral is. You have to be a bit careful. Just searching on the internet can lead you astray. Even though diamonds are rare, they are so popular that there are thousands of dealers advertising them. Sulfur crystals are much more common, but because the demand is low, there are not too many advertised for sale.
The popularity of a mineral is the flip side of the rarity factor. Like many collectibles, the demand fluctuates over time. Watch out for artificial prices driven by sudden popularity. Think Beanie Babies. I can get you some real good deals on them now!
Good crystals are always in demand, but if the supply is very large, the price will not be high. As you look at crystals consider the rarity and popularity of the mineral from which it formed. If crystals from that mineral are hard to find, and in demand, then their value will be higher than a similar looking crystal from a common mineral.
The Color of a Crystal
Color is the next big factor. It drives the prices of virtually all crystals.
The color of a ruby, sapphire, diamond, or tourmaline is a major factor in the price. Certain colors are in high demand, and command high prices. This too takes some research. Generally a crystal that has a dark hue but is still very transparent is the most desired in the marketplace and commands the highest price.
Washed out colors, or colors that are zoned, or murky command lower prices. They don’t have the desirability of the crystals with beautiful, clear, rich, and vibrant hues.
Always judge the color of a crystal. It matters.
Aesthetics is another factor you should consider in any crystal purchase. Frankly, crystals and clusters that appeal to our sense of proportion, beauty, and design have higher value. This is certainly in the eye of the beholder. Buy crystals that appeal to you.
Trade Name, Real Mineral, or something else?
Crystals, minerals, and rocks are sold by trade names, common names, actual mineral names, and trademarked names. It is confusing. Lets sort it out.
Trade names are ways that mineral and crystal dealers and collectors commonly refer to minerals and rocks. For example “ruby” is the common trade name for red transparent Corundum. “Larimar” is a new trade name for light blue Pectolite. Corundum and Pectolite are actual mineral names. Actual mineral names are set by the Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification (CNMNC) of the International Mineralogical Association (IMA)
The problem is that there are misleading trade names. “Transvaal Jade” is not Jadeite or Nephrite Jade; it is a trade name for Hibschite. “Smoky Topaz” is not topaz, it is quartz. So what to do?
Our advice is to simply do a bit of homework. The first source is Mindat. This is the on-line mineralogy database. It identifies trade names and the corresponding mineral name. So if you were considering buying a piece of Transvaal Jade, for example, you should first to go to Mindat and search for Transvaal Jade, you would find a page telling you it was a trade name for Hibschite which is t a type of garnet.
Or consider Turquonite. What is it? Turquonite’s page on Mindat tells us that it is either a proprietary name for a particular type of stabilized turquoise or it is dyed Howlite.
So, check Mindat when you are not sure what the name of a crystal is.
A second source for sorting out crystal trade names, shapes, and metaphysical names of quartz crystals is our Guide to Quartz Crystals A – Z. Here you will find hundreds of shapes, types, and forms of quartz explained so you know what you are buying.
We now come to trademarked names for crystals and stones. The issue here is that a trademark does not change the physical or metaphysical properties of a crystal. It is still what it was before the trademark is added. The problem with trademarked names is that you, as a buyer, may well think you are buying something that is unique and special, when all that is unique and special is the trademark, not the crystal or stone.
Let’s explore this a bit….
Here is an example.
“Boji Stones” is a brand name for a concretion of minerals usually Pyrite and Marcasite. These stones, and similar ones are also marketed by others as Moqui Marbles, Kansas Pop Rocks. Shaman Stones, Marcasite Reiki Healing Crystals, Marcasite Ascension Stone Crystals and probably other names. The brand named “Boji Stones” are sold only by the owner of the brand name and their authorized dealers. They often cost more than the “generic” stones.
Here is another example….
“Azeztulite” is a trademarked name for quartz. It is reported by the trademark owner to be a high vibration quartz they find in special locations around the world. There are now many types being sold: Golden Azeztulite, Satyaloka Azeztulite, etc. Each is a trademarked name for a particular shape, color, or type of quartz found at special locations. The prices for trademarked items is very much higher than the same material from the same locations sold by dealers without the trademarked name.
So, if you see the TM mark after the name of a mineral, just understand what you are buying. Trademarks do not make a crystal have more energy or healing powers. The energy and healing powers are in the crystal, not the name or the paper that comes with the crystal. A crystal or stone from the same location of the same mineral will have the same properties – physical and metaphysical. They have to, they are the same.
The crystal trade is seeing a rapid climb in the number of trademarked crystals. Nirvana Quartz, Master Shamanite, Isis Calcite, Coracalcite….the list goes on and on. Again, do a bit of homework when you see the trademark symbol. Check MINDAT, send us a note, or just Google the name and see what you find.
The bottom line on trademarked crystals: They are not distinguishable in any way from the non-trademarked ones by anyone even the people selling them.
So if you have a trademarked set of Boji Ball, and someone else has a set of Pop Rocks, be careful and don’t mix them up. Because if you do, you cannot sort them out, and no one else can either.
Same for Azeztulite, or any other trademarked crystal or stone. If you have some expensive trademarked crystal and some inexpensive crystal from the same location, and you mix them up…well you are out of luck because they are the same mineral, and thus indistinguishable by any test. This is the problem …
The problem is that there is no test, and no person that can separate a trademarked Boji Ball from a Pop Rock or an Azeztulite from quartz. Same for all the other trademarked crystals — we know of no way to separate them from other crystals of the same mineral.
So that is why the Crystal Vaults does not sell trademarked items.
It is simple. There is no test to differentiate the expensive trademarked crystals and stones from the much less expensive ones. We do not want to cheat anyone. We do not want to sell you something we cannot identify. We are gemologists. If we cannot sort them out, how can we expect you to do so?
Finally, the last factor is how the crystal or cluster has been enhanced or modified by human intervention. Many collectors and users prize completely natural crystals. However, some enhancements add value, such as heat treating topaz. It is important that you know what has been done to a crystal to make it appear as it does. Is it heat treated, polished, or coated? Ask these type questions.
A Checklist for Evaluating a Crystal
In fact here are some questions to ask about any crystal or cluster as you attempt to discover its value:
- How big is it?
- What condition is it in? External flaws? Internal Flaws?
- How rare is this mineral?
- How popular is this crystal right now?
- What color is it, and how desirable is the color?
- Is it attractive to my eye?
- What mineral is it? Sort out the trade name using MINDAT or other sources
- Is it treated in some way?
Once you run through these questions and get the answers, you will be in a much better position to determine the value of the crystal. Remember there are a lot of crystals out there. Get the ones you will like that are fair values.