Architectural Minerals & Stone – FAQ
Why Buy Minerals?
Positioned between art and antiques, fine minerals give the design professional a unique advantage. By transcending period or style, they are one of the safest, most liquid investments. Not only do they offer great beauty, they provide exceptional value, as pieces sell from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Our crystals are judged by many of the same criteria used for gems: transparency, color, luster, size and perfection, with a special emphasis on aesthetics. An architectural mineral can be compared to the finest antique or sculpture and we offer museum quality pieces that can be displayed in your home or office. Their remarkable visual presence sets them apart and whether on a mantle, table or sideboard, architectural mineral in a cabinet or bookcase, an extraordinary mineral can be dramatically stunning or softly sublime.
What is a Mineral and what is a Crystal?
All chemical matter is composed of various combinations of the chemical elements organized on the periodic table.
There are currently 118 known chemical elements, of which 98 are known to occur naturally on earth. Common examples include iron, aluminum, oxygen, arsenic, and calcium. At its most basic unit, each element is composed of an atom, which consists of a positively charged nucleus, surrounded by negatively charged electrons. The interactions between the positive and negative charges in separate atoms lead to the formation of bonds between them, sometimes resulting in compounds that are more energetically stable than the lone elements.
When the atoms of a chemical element or compound are arranged in a repeating array over large atomic distances, the resulting material is referred to as crystalline, and the repeating unit is called the unit cell. When a crystalline material also meets the criteria that “it is normally crystalline and has been formed as a result of geological processes,” as set forth by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA), then that material is considered a mineral.
What is a Gem?
Certain materials are valued for their beauty, typically as a result of their color, reflective properties, or clarity. While most gems are minerals, some, such as pearls and opals are not. The reason for this lies in the definition propounded by the IMA: pearls form as a result of biological processes not geological ones, and opals lack the long range structure necessary to be considered crystalline.
Diamonds, emeralds, rubies, tourmalines and a variety of other popular gems do qualify as minerals however. In nature, the processes that result in crystallization are often interrupted or interfered with by external factors—natural impurities or radiation can alter the color of the gem crystals, interfere with their clarity, or limit the size of their growth.
As a result, truly perfect gems are rare. Although many methods have arisen to artificially improve them, the most valued are naturally perfect. When a raw stone is found, it must then be graded, cut, and polished to optimize its yield, optical properties and size in a way that will maximize its beauty and value.
Jewelers assess a gemstone with respect to the “Four C’s”–Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carats, the final term referring to the weight of the stone. The standards for color and clarity vary from species to species, and the preferred cuts and colors are often influenced by current fashion trends.
Top designers and architects are always looking for the next newest thing, something distinctive and striking for a home, office or public spaces. Surprisingly, it turns out that this newest wow factor is actually one of the world’s oldest art forms, mineral crystals.
Used as decorative elements for thousands of years, minerals are uniquely captivating and alluring. They are nature’s finest jewels, with thousands of different types mined from the earth in spectacular shapes, combinations, sizes and rarity. Unlike precious stones, no cutting or faceting is required in creating these masterpieces.
Our crystals are judged by many of the same criteria used for gems: transparency, color, luster, size and perfection, with a special emphasis on aesthetics. An architectural mineral can be compared to the finest antique or sculpture and we offer museum quality pieces that can be displayed almost anywhere. Their remarkable visual presence sets them apart and whether on a mantle, table or sideboard, in a lobby or restaurant, an extraordinary mineral can be dramatically stunning or softly sublime.
Where are some of places you source your materials from?
United States, Brazil, Uruguay, Namibia, Morocco, Mali, China, Indonesia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Argentina, Italy and England. And we are always exploring new countries to add to our resources.
Could you give us examples of the most rare minerals and gems you have?
Aragonite Pipes: cross-sections of a 90 year old pipe that carried water from a hot spring to a spa in the Czech Republic.
Indonesian Petrified Palm Tree Bulb with Sapphire Deposits. The slice we have of this petrified wood is extremely rare, with hues of browns, yellows and sapphire blue that are hard to find on any other piece.
Black Sea Petrified Wood. Our pieces of this petrified wood are carved to accentuate the natural wood-like characteristics that still exist in the piece.
Stone Quarried Tables. We have a growing line of tables, created in collaboration with local quarry owners. These are made from some of our favorite building stones and can be exquisitely incorporated into architecture and design.
How can minerals be used decoratively in the home?
We offer delicate and precious collectibles that are best displayed when showcased in a small cabinet. The majority of our inventory is a collection of pieces that can be used on tables or shelves, for people to experience up close and hands on. If you like being surrounded by the most astounding, incomparable natural art, it’s time to consider minerals.