Managing a Collection

As your collection grows, aim for quality instead of quantity.

Some Basics

Mineral Identification
Collecting Tools, and How to Use Them


Introduction to Geology
Our Changing Earth
The Geologic Time Scale
Stories Fossils Tell
Earthquakes and Faults
The Ouachita Mountains
Energy Resources: Fossil Fuels

Quartz Crystals

Introduction to Quartz
Digging Quartz Crystal
Cleaning Quartz Crystal
What's it Worth?
Types of Quartz
Geology and Mineralogy
Quartz as Gems
Experiments You Can Do

Other Collectable Minerals


Managing a Collection

Making Your Collection the Best
Cleaning Minerals
What to do...

Minerals Special to Arkansas

Some are New to Science


No Gold in Arkansas


Making Your Collection the Best

Getting Serious with your Collection

WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THESE ROCKS! Do you have a direction your rock gathering is taking you? All your collecting can become clutter, or it can become a valuable addition to your life. We are going to address several factors that distinguish between these two.

Qualities of a Good Collection

A good collection has quality (and/or special favorite) specimens. The specimens are sorted into similar categories and are clean and well-trimmed to display their best qualities. They sit well on the shelf (or on stands), and are properly labeled. In addition, the display is attractive with good lighting, with the minerals being the center of interest.

Be Honest with Yourself

storage racks in the barnHow many rocks do you have at your house? Are you a collector or a hoarder? We have a lot of rocks at our house. We have a basement room full of rocks. We have large yard rocks out in the front yard. We have a barn full of rocks. We have rocks around the barn, behind the barn and in the woods beyond the barn. The Howard house has as many rocks as any other collector, so if there is a contest to see who has the most rocks when they die, we are in good running for a trophy. BUT, there is a plan.

The Real Collector
If you are really a collector and not just an accumulator, eventually you will have to decide what to do with all the things you have acquired. Mike started his serious collection when he was about 1o or 12 years old, and he was so enthusiastic about it that he soon had his bedroom overflowing. His very nice father bought the house next door so that his young collector would have a place to put his treasures. Without doubt, this purchase was an extreme measure, but the question still remains,"What to do with all this stuff?" Now, after nearly fifty years into collecting, Mike has one of the best private collections of minerals in the state of Arkansas. But it has taken him a lot of work to make it into a true collection.

Oh, by the way, in the photo above, that's our barn, not the living room. Cardboard flats full of cleaned and boxed specimens for sale or trade are stored in on metal shelving that was screwed to studs on the walls. With this much weight, you need to make certain your shelving is sturdy!

A Secret...
Photographers and artists have a secret. Don't show your less-than-best pieces. And even then, you don't have to show them all at once. Sure, we have a zillion rocks and minerals at our house, but most of them are in drawers or packed in boxes and labeled on the outside of the box. Only the most special and showy pieces are in the glass display cabinets. When visitors come and they are interested in certain specialties, it's easy to open a few drawers and say "these are my favorite pieces." Mike says if it's in his display case, it's not to be traded or sold. After all, keeping the best is how to build a collection.


I asked Mike which of his displays was his favorite, and he said, "Well, I like my quartz case, and my north Arkansas minerals case, and my Magnet Cove display....etc." You are probably the same way. If you didn't like the pieces, why would you be keeping them?

There are a few jargon terms advanced pebble puppies need to add to their vocabulary. One is Trashite, another Leaverite, and another High Grade. The first term, trashite, is a mineral specimen of no value. Trashite rocks should always be left at the collecting site. That way it will never interfere with your collection.

Leaverite, used as a noun or a verb, means "leave it right where you found it." It is also a specimen you don't need to waste your time or space on.

High Grade is a verb, meaning pick over your collection with a critical eye and select the best pieces, while giving away, selling, swapping, etc. your lesser pieces. High grading is a good practice at the collecting site, too. It prevents you from having piles of Trashite and Leaverite around your yard. As your collection grows, aim for quality, instead of quantity. Your significant others will appreciate it and you will feel better about your collection.

Here is What to Do: Make Decisions

Choose your best and favorite specimens. Clean them, trim them, label them, and give them a nice place to be viewed. The links on the side of the page will take you to more detailed discussions of each of the topics.

Take advantages of the rock swaps sponsored by local clubs. Sell or give away specimens you don't really want to keep. Could your neighbors use some landscaping rocks? Can your local school use some samples for their earth science classes? Keep your eye toward making your collection better, which doesn't always mean bigger.