How do I identify my rock or mineral, and what's it worth?

How do I identify my rock or mineral, and what's it worth?

Posted by OakRocks on 30th Aug 2015

Where do I find somebody to tell me what my rock or mineral is worth?

The most common question I receive is some variation on “Where do I find somebody who can tell me what my rock or mineral is?”, “Where do I find somebody to tell me what my rock or mineral is worth?”, “Where do I find someone who will custom cut my rough rock?”, or “Where can I learn more about collecting or cutting rocks or minerals?”.

Unfortunately there isn’t an easy answer.  There are very few brick and mortar stores that actually have people who are knowledgeable about rocks and minerals.  Here in The U.S. you can find people who like to rockhound (go hunting for rocks), or collect rocks and/or minerals, but I believe that the general public has no idea of what treasures come from our earth and how unique and valuable they are.  Often I hear people say “You get that much for a rock?”  And of course my favorite, “I have rocks like that all over my backyard.”  It often blows my mind what people will pay for a painting or a ceramic pot, but they wouldn’t dream of paying that for a unique and rare mineral that is millions of years old.

You might find somebody who can identify a rock as quartz or jasper, but there are so many variations of the material based on its origin, color, or pattern, that it’s really hard to find somebody who can absolutely identify some of the rarer varieties and their origins or trade names, AND the value can vary widely based on that information. There are also very few lapidary artists who will custom cut material.  The truth is it is a highly skilled occupation, but people are not usually willing to pay for that expertise.

My answer to the above questions is always the same.  The first step is to see if there is a lapidary club in your area. Lapidary clubs, like most clubs, are groups of people who meet to discuss their hobby. Some clubs actually have lapidary shops and hold classes or have people willing to help you learn to cut. They may even have people who are willing to look at your rocks or minerals and try to identify them or refer you to somebody who can cut them for you.

There is an excellent resource put out by Bob’s Rock Shop here:

Also there is a club list at put out by the Rock & Gem magazine.

The next suggestion is to see if there is a rock and mineral show near you.  There are literally thousands of these across the country every year, from very small to the world’s largest held in Tucson, Arizona every February.  Some are put on by the lapidary clubs, some are put on by nonprofit organizations and some are put on by professional show organizers.  Usually these trade shows have several rock and mineral dealers who love to talk to people, and love to help educate people.

Here is a great page that gives worldwide information from XPOpress:

Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones, and there is a lapidary supply store or rock shop near you.  Through our travels I have found many great shops, but they tend to be in small towns and out of the way areas.  In my experience rock shop owners are very friendly and willing to share their knowledge.  The best way to check for these is through the Yellow Pages, either in the book or online.  You can also check with your Chamber of Commerce to see if they have suggestions.  Sometimes bead stores or even jewelry stores might have some people knowledgeable about rocks or minerals.  Find a small family owned store.  In my experience most large or chain jewelry stores only know the big ones: diamonds, rubies, sapphires, etc.

Sometimes you might be lucky enough to have a local, usually community, college which offers earth science or even better, lapidary classes.If they have a lapidary shop they may have people who will cut for you or teach you to cut.

And finally look for a Rock and Mineral museum in your area.  Though these are rare, they often have a great collection, and sometimes an actual lapidary shop too.

And, of course if you are computer savvy-the internet is a wonderful resource for more information.

My section here: gives a lot of information on various materials. is an awesome resource too. 

There are plenty of how to videos on YouTube and plenty of books available that give information on rocks and minerals and even ones that tell you places to hunt for rocks.

The value of your rock is much harder to determine.  Once you have the rock “identified” you can do an internet search to see some of the asking prices-but that is unreliable as there are so many things that determine the value of a rock-its beauty, its rarity, even the price the person selling it paid for it.  It is truly a market where its worth is mostly based on what someone is willing to pay for it!  Keep in mind, without formal payment for an appraisal, and testing with equipment-if a rock or mineral expert identifies a rock or mineral for you, it is their best educated guess .  If you need an official identification you can ship your rock or mineral to the Gemological Institute of America.  If you or somebody you know does custom rock cutting, or custom jewelry work, wire wrapping, etc.  I would love to add your info to my site.  Please feel free to send me your contact information!

Thank you for your interest and Happy Hunting!