I’ve been collecting rocks and minerals since I was in 4th grade! For Christmas one year I got a starter collection of 20 rocks and minerals which came with an informational booklet (which I still have). It taught you “how to be a mineral detective” and I learned about different tests I could perform to determine the possible name of the stone. There was the penny test (you would scratch the penny with the specimen), the steel nail file test, and the glass test. The kit also came with tiles for streak testing, which was my favorite. This mini collection and booklet was my gateway to the gem world and what started my gem collection.
I think everyone has to start somewhere! Having one gem, rock or mineral might seem like a joke when seeing some people’s entire collections, but in reality, we all started that way too. These rocks aren’t disposable–each one should be chosen with the utmost care with the intention of keeping them forever. Their energies and your energy will feed off one another, and the longer your relationship is with a particular stone, the deeper the connection.
So how does one set out to create a meaningful and large collection? Here are my top tips in random order:
1 — Get reading! Find a few books that will educate you that have colorful photos so you can learn and identify gems, rocks and crystals before starting your collection. Make note of ones that speak to you right away or colors that you gravitate towards.
2 — Follow some sellers and collectors of rocks & gems on Instagram! Find accounts that are both educational and acknowledge where their pieces can be purchased (if they are not already sellers themselves). I know these types of accounts can be fun to follow mostly for eye-candy purposes, but if they aren’t posting very much in the caption to help teach others or interact when someone asks a question, that’s not going to be helpful to you.
3 — Buy pieces that speak to you, things you gravitate toward. It is hard for me to buy gems and crystals online because I like the experience of physically touching them and seeing which one my gut tells me to bring home. Most cities or towns have crystal shops and because of the increase in popularity, more and more stores are popping up.
4 — Figure out where you are going to store or display your collection! A big part of collecting for me is being able to display things so I’m able to enjoy them as much as possible. I don’t like collecting things that need to be stored in a dark room or buried away. I’ve displayed my gem and crystals in multiple different places over the years: from windowsills, to antique printers drawers (like in the photos), to tabletop and beyond. I would recommend somewhere where pets or children can’t get to (since some are tiny and can be swallowed) and also someplace where they can easily fall and break. I used to have my printers drawers hanging from my wall and I had so many casualties because the rocks would fall and break.
5 — Once your collection continues to grow, you can organize it based on color (display them in a rainbow scheme) or polished vs. un-polished, which I like to do. It is also valuable to choose quality crystals you will cherish for the rest of your life rather than poor quality that are dyed or cheap.
6 — Try to keep track of the names of each gemstone, rock, mineral or crystal you buy! You can create an inventory list using your iPhone, just snap a photo of it and type in a label. You’ll be thankful you did this later! If you buy something from somewhere and they don’t know the name of the rock you’re purchasing, that might not be the best place to buy from. Oftentimes, stores or dealers have little cards that not only tell you the name, but its physical and spiritual properties, if you’re into that kind of thing!
7 — Keep tabs on upcoming local events for rock & gem collectors! There’s always flea markets or gem-related shows/events all across the US. Be sure to plan on marking them in a calendar so you don’t forget. A lot of these types of events don’t put too much money into advertising, so you have to seek them out yourself. It is also a good way to connect with other collectors. The Tucson Gem Show is the ultimate gem and rock show–definitely try to go to that if you’re serious about your collection (and have prepared with extra savings to spend)!
8 — Follow significant hashtags on Instagram to see other collections, how they are displayed or to learn of new specimens you haven’t seen before. I use the hashtags #gemgossipcrystals for all my gem or crystal collecting.
9 — Keep your collection clean! Dust your pieces off every few months. Some pieces can or can’t get wet, some pieces can or can’t get sunlight…find out and always remember.
10 — Every gem, rock, mineral or crystal collection MUST have: agate, amethyst, aragonite, aventurine, calcite, chalcopyrite, chrysocolla, citrine, copper, fluorite, geodes, gypsum, hematite, jasper, lodestone, obsidian, optical calcite, pumice, pyrite, quartz, rose quartz, sodalite, tiger eye, malachite and vanadinite to name JUST A FEW. 😉