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Forever I have seen little shops here and there offer minerals like those crystals and neat shaped rocks of different kinds, turquoise and amethyst and many others and such. But I never really thought about it.

In looking a bit it doesn't seem there is a Home Depot for minerals. That is, there's no giant store that offers tons of minerals of every kind in vast quantities. The biggest collection of minerals I ever saw was this:

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All of those tiny fist-sized samples are probably pretty much different types of minerals. So then to scale that to buckets or bins and tractors full of each type, I have never seen.

So it seems that these small shops get the minerals in small quantities from somewhere other than a Home-Depot--like place. That's what I'm wondering about (the first part of the question), where they get the minerals from. I have heard that these people actually go out rock hunting and find them themselves. I am not wondering where specifically they go and find each different type (I have no specific minerals I am interested in), just generally wondering if they are actually going out into the fields with a chisel and a brush and digging stuff up, putting them in their pockets, and then taking them home and cleaning them up.

If that's not the case, I wonder what they actually do to get them (at a high level).

If that is the case, then I am wondering how they actually (a) know where to look, and (b) are allowed to do that. To narrow this down, it sounds like there are a few scenarios:

  1. There is just public land and you start looking without any mines or anything.
  2. There is private land and you start looking without any mines or anything.
  3. You go to a mine and somehow get permission to look around in the field.
  4. Then my thoughts. Perhaps the "company" miners (or whoever is actually doing the main mine operation) is mining for rock A, and there are pockets of rock or mineral B scattered around, which would just go to waste. So the mineral collector asks to go through the "rock waste" and gets the minerals that way. That seems like the best way to get it in bulk.
  5. You have direct access to the mine and the mine is for the specific mineral(s), so you are getting it in big chunks.

What I am wondering is this:

Who does 1-5. Wondering if most of the time (sort of thing) hobbyists do 1 and 2, and maybe if they are adventurous 3 or 4, while the "shops" do 5. The shops own the land and own the mine. Wondering generally (just a quick note) on what the behavior is like in looking for the rocks, if most of the time it's just browsing the field in broad areas, or no, you know exactly where you're going by checking with some expert nearby and are going to harvest a specific type of mineral.

I am also wondering how much work it takes to find stuff, and how to get permission to the mine, but those I might save for future questions, unless it's just a casual "just ask them and be nice" sort of thing :).

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    $\begingroup$ a good start is to contact your local geology club,they will guide you in how and where to find minerals,one possibility is rock dumps from old mines that are abandoned. $\endgroup$ – trond hansen Nov 20 '18 at 5:29
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In the United States, mining minerals is similar to mining for precious metals (for the most part). You can establish a mining claim on a likely spot of Federal/State land and go to town. There are rules and regulations that guide the appropriate ways to establish, work and maintain a claim. You can also negotiate with a private land-owner for rights to mine on their land.

One step up is wholesale markets that sell mineral specimens (and all the items that go with them). There is a huge one in Tucson AZ in Jan/Feb with an amazing spectrum of stuff.

These markets are where most small retailers go to get their product.

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