Updated: Dec 11, 2022
September the 16th is Rock Collecting Day, so let’s talk about how to start a gemstone collection. You may be thinking, “Who do you think I am – Elizabeth Taylor?”, but you don’t need to be a movie star or millionaire to start your own gemstone collection. Many beautiful gemstones can be acquired very cheaply and without much effort at all. Once bitten by the gemstone collecting bug, a world of adventure awaits!
All gemstone experts, collectors and enthusiasts were once simply people who enjoyed looking at and learning about gemstones. Enthusiasm and a fascination for gemstones often starts in childhood, when we’re entranced by our grandmother’s sapphire ring or we always make a beeline for the gemstone section of our local natural history museum. After all, what child could fail to be beguiled by the colourful, gleaming specimens on display?
A fascination for gemstones often starts in childhood
So if you’d like to build your own collection or have a child who is showing an interest, here are some tips to start you off. I’ll start with the obvious…
Buy some stones!
You need some gemstones for a gemstone collection, after all! Your starter stones don’t need to be expensive or rare. Many stones can be found for very little cash in museum gift shops or new age stores, for example. Maybe you’d like specimens or perhaps you’d prefer to make your collection wearable by buying your stones already set in jewellery. You may find yourself drawn to particular stones, maybe because you love the colour or pattern. This is your collection, so you do you!
Build your knowledge
There are some great books and websites on gemstones and minerals out there. The publisher Dorling Kindersley produces some informative books, lavishly illustrated with photographs. The GIA, where I studied, has a website packed with easy-to-read information and many images of exquisite gemstones. I started out by reading The Clever Gem Buyer, written by Gavin Linsell of Rocks & Co.
Invest in some basic kit
Once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll want the equipment to do it. A 10X jeweller’s loupe and a small torch are essential for examining gemstones up close. Think about where and how to display your collection to show it off while keeping it safe. I’ve put together a handy starter kit, which includes a high-quality 10x pocket loupe, a pair of gem tweezers, a white light torch, gemstone polishing cloth, a display box for your finds and my Buying Gemstones & Jewellery Worldwide book.
Check out your local area
Are you living in an area known for a particular gemstone? Why not go on a field trip and hunt for specimens? Make sure you double check your local laws on gemstone fossicking before you head out, though!
Gemstone spotting on holiday
Many of our favourite holiday hotspots are also world famous for their beautiful gemstones. It’s a really special feeling to own a gemstone you’ve bought in the country of its origin, and the buying process can be lots of fun. Avoid making an expensive mistake by popping one of my Gemstone Detective guides in your suitcase before you board that plane!
Lastly, don’t forget to show me your finds!
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Kim Rix, GG GIA
Be sure. Be smart. Buy with confidence