A mineral is a naturally occurring inorganic solid with a defined chemical composition and crystal structure. Most of the more than 4,500 accepted mineral species are compounds consisting of two or more elements, but a few elements such as gold, copper, and sulfur also form minerals. Almost all minerals show an orderly arrangement of atoms—a crystal structure—that is repeated throughout a mineral. The chemical composition and this homogenous structure are among the properties that define specific mineral species.
The most collectible mineral species are those that form large, well-defined crystals. Gem-cutters seek out those with transparent sections, but in many cases specimen values are significantly higher than gem values—specimen collectors pay a premium for undamaged, colorful transparent "gem" crystals. Similarly, well-crystallized examples of gold and other “native” species are worth far more than their "spot" values, even as prices continue to climb.
Our 2013 calendar is a taste of the wonderful world of collectible minerals. Some are gem crystals, some are native species, some are rare; all are remarkable, fascinating, and beautiful not only for their aesthetic value but also for their historic, cultural, and scientific importance. There is much to be gained by getting to know minerals.
The calendar is published by Lithographie, LLC in cooperation with The Mineralogical Society of America. Layout and design are by Gloria Staebler with special thanks to Mike Jensen, Suzanne Liebetrau, and Dave Bunk.