SOME REFLECTIONS ON STARTING A MINERAL SPECIMEN SALE WEBSITE

March 24, 2020

by Peter Rosewarne

 About a year ago I wrote an article on selling a mineral collection from South Africa, which was featured in the MinChat. One of the methods I listed, unsurprisingly, was setting up my own internet site. I didn’t go that route initially, relying on selling back specimens to dealers such as Hummingbird Minerals, John Betts Fine Minerals, Fabre Minerals and The Mineral Gallery, and some on Club Open Days. However, the former route seems to have run its course in terms of willingness of the dealers to take back stock and my willingness to give up 50% or so of the purchase price. So with time on my hands I decided to set up my own mineral specimen sale website. Jo thought it might be of interest to readers/members for me to relate the issues that had to be dealt with in this endeavour and so here goes.
The main issues that seemed to me to have to be tackled in this regards were:

  • - Settle on a site name that hasn’t previously been registered as a domain;

  • - Register the new site domain;

  • - Find someone qualified to set up the actual website;

  • - Assist with design of the site including a logo, welcoming notes, terms and conditions etc.;

  • - Decide which specimens to list initially;

  • -;Take reasonable photographs of the specimens or borrow ones that came with specimens purchased previously on the Internet;

  • - Pen short descriptions with locality, size and provenance;

  • - Prepare labels for sold specimens;

  • - Set prices, based on what I paid and some adjustments as necessary after checking similar specimens on a few sites, where possible, and exchange rates;

  • - Decide on payment options;

  • - Send all this information to the website manager for uploading, with periodic updates;

  • - Decide on how and where to advertise the site; and

  • - Sit back and wait for someone to contact me…

I call my mineral collection The Rosey Collection so Rosey’s Minerals came to mind as a name for my website. However, a search showed that this name/domain had already been registered so I settled on Rosey’s Crystals and duly registered roseyscrystals.com as my domain. A family member has a company called Creative Twist that inter alia sets up websites and so I commissioned them to assist in this regard, using my ideas on e.g. logo and layout.

I woke up one morning with a clear vision of a logo involving a dodecahedron with Rosey’s Crystals around the top and an outline of part of the World to symbolise the worldwide source of the specimens for sale. I modified the crystal shape to a cubic pentagon and put an ‘eclipse’ effect around it and am very pleased with the result produced by Creative Twist. It’s shown here. I got permission from The Mineralogical Record to use some of their issues as part of my welcoming page’s design, with apologies to Kristalle.

In terms of initial listings, I had about 25 specimens with professional photographs obtained from the sites where I bought them so decided to start with these, setting up ‘galleries’ of about 20 specimens each. There are three galleries so far, supplemented with my own photographs. To take reasonable photographs that are a fair reflection of the specimens, I removed two sides of a J&B case box, lined it with black paper and set it up to receive natural light. I used a Sony Power Shot SX60 set to Auto with a tripod and automatic shutter release. I’m quite pleased with the results after the website manager has added a plain black or white background depending on the colour of the mineral. The photos are otherwise unretouched and with the dimensions provided give a fair representation of the mineral specimens I think. Two examples are shown below. I’ve also taken the liberty of including a few specimens that have already been sold to dealers to give the impression that the site is active. There’s also notification (but only selected photographs) of species ‘collections’ of e.g. wulfenite (20), tourmaline (16), garnet (20), dioptase (10) and fluorite (30) where I have more than single or a few specimens.


Beryl var. goshenite from Namibia


Having a website is all very well but how to get the message ‘out there’ so that people/potential buyers visit the site and browse through the offerings? I’ve decided to advertise with The Mineralogical Record for one year under their Internet Directory page. It states on their Advertising Information page that, “We are a bimonthly publication with a guaranteed circulation of 5,000 copies, with special issues selling up to 10,000 copies. Each issue is read by more than 10,000 people who annually spend millions of dollars on minerals”. That sounds like value for money to me for $200/a – we’ll see! I’ve also posted on my Facebook site and one entitled, “Minerals you are trying to sell”, and have had some response but no sales. One specimen was sold at the Tucson Show but that wasn’t through the website (still waiting to hear which specimen). According to the site stats, there have been 79 visitors and 262 ‘hits’ in the month that the site has been operational, although some of those are me, checking what the site looks like with new additions.


Wulfenite from Los Lamentos, Mexico

All in all, the cost of setting up the site, registering a domain, one year’s site management, uploading of specimen photographs and details, and one year’s advertising has cost about R11 000. So I hope some prospective buyers soon start to browse the site and find something that catches their discerning eye. The site has only been active since the last week of February so it’s early days yet. There seemed to be a temporary glitch with accessing the site but my site manager seems to have sorted that out, hopefully permanently.

It’s been some fun so far and there will be more ‘fun’ when it comes to (hopefully) posting specimens to international destinations. I’ve successfully used Postnet and Fedex with previous international sales, sending to e.g. New York, Mobile (Alabama) and Barcelona, with John Betts even asking jokingly if I’d like a job packing his specimens. This article is a bit sparse on illustrations but the site and specimens can all be viewed using the link below. Please pass on any ideas for improvements, if you check out the site.

 

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