Crystal Pricing – it’s in all the eye of the beholder

Boston Mineral ClubPART ONE – the principal of it

I joined the Boston Mineral Club recently, and overheard one of the elder gemologists say “unlike in most industries, there’s no standardized system for pricing minerals.” A lightbulb went off for me. Of course, I thought – that’s so true!

Diamonds may have a ‘universal’ price code – but even there – you can find a lot of variation in cost-for-product…and if you’re not an expert yourself, who can you trust?

Folks you know – folks you’ve seen demonstrate their knowledge, experience, and selection – you can (and should) trust them. And trust yourself, over all. If you think it’s worth it (to you) – and you have the money – they go ahead and buy it…without any regrets!

question mark diamond

question mark diamond

But who really knows what a Crystal is worth? If there was some ONE person who knew it all, it wouldn’t be much of a game anymore. It’s ultimately “all in the eye of the beholder.”

The Seller is the gate keeper – the ultimate “decider” – but every one has their bottom price. Unlike mainstream shop attendants, most dealers have the flexibility to give you a break. So play with them…bargain. Worst thing they can say is “no!”

I’ve done that plenty myself – making preposterously low offers – it can’t hurt. But I never question people’s prices – especially in front of others, or on Facebook – I think that’s a big no-no.

I asked one such naysayer “why would you want to ‘yuk someone else’s yum’ – I mean – if that’s what they’re charging, it’s their business (after all), and if someone’s gonna pay what they’re asking, then more power to the both of them!”

a decent sphere - like this golden rainbow Calcite sphere - should cost over $100

a decent sphere – like this golden rainbow Calcite sphere – should cost over $100

I’m not into the high end, jewelry or gem stone business, preferring minerals. I do specialize in finer specimens, but within the (I think) more modest range of $30-$200.

I think of that as “affordable” – and that if you can’t spend that type of change on something that really matters to you – then perhaps you should find a cheaper hobby.

Amazingly, a lot of people think that is a lot to spend. I don’t know what that says about our economy, people’s living conditions, or our priorities. People are spending $50 a week on coffee and donuts…so it’s hard for me understand why they can’t seem to find the same amount for something that’ll last forever…and give them satisfaction many times over.

I feel like I’m holding the torch solo – sometimes – for people respecting the value of good Crystals, and the effort that goes into finding, and presenting them in a way that truly honors their special value.

Aragonite 'sea horse' floating cluster

Aragonite ‘sea horse’ floating cluster

The reason my prices aren’t what you’ll see at a local rock shop (or gem show), is that I am neither. This is a boutique operation. Every piece is hand picked because of some unique quality, and my prices reflect that TLC.

A wholesaler I met with recently said “I can’t go there – I can’t look at individual pieces – everything has to get marked up by weight only.” How could I compete with – and why should I be compared to – folks buying directly from the source?! That’s not my place in the pecking order – my ‘ecological niche’ is post miner, post international shipper – serving up that special sauce for retail buyers with great taste.

All and still – and excuse me for tooting my own horn here (if I don’t, who will, aye…though you may want to look at my Buyer Testimonials) – but I’m pretty confident that I have a broader variety of true power stones than most operations I’ve seen out there – be they online or in person – mom and pop or major importer.

Every time I leave a gem show or wholesaler – I thank my lucky stars: I get to walk away with the good stuff – while they’re stuck with literally tons of 2nds and 3rds…stuff I wouldn’t even want to give away…but their margin (hello, everybody’s got ’em) takes that into consideration. Plus, they have volume on their side.

Have you seen some of the truly high grade stuff displayed at Museums, and even Gem Shows? It’s on sale for really big numbers? People are asking $800 for a pebble here, and $4000 for a cluster there. Try complaining to those guys about pricing.

I’m the little  guy, here. How is it fair that I should occasionally get grief for charging the cost of a good meal on arguably outstanding product?

worthless lot I returned

worthless lot I returned

Let me tell you a little story about unreasonable pricing. There was a guy I bought a whole parcel from recently, for $140 online. I failed to get dimensions, trusting the source – but when I got it – the little ‘puddle’ was worth $30, maybe. There were tiny points that looked huge in the photos (which is why every piece I sell online is photographed ‘in-hand’ – to show relative size). Others were broken. The Citrine was all irradiated (undisclosed by the Seller), and the ‘Lemurians’ turned out not to be. He didn’t even have an “All Sales Final” clause, but he wouldn’t take them back! I put them in the mail and said “don’t even refund me – keep the money as a cushion for yourself, or give it to a charity – I could never accept this overpriced garbage.” The black Tourmaline was all I wanted to hold onto, but to do so would only suggest the legitimacy of any part of the transaction.

I don’t know if it’s yard sales, volume sellers, or rock hounds who can offer great selections for under $30 – but if they’re out there – have at ’em.

As I say to some folks: “you can find another stone like this out there – but you won’t find this one anywhere but here, today.”

One of the favorite claims made (and I hear this one a lot) is: “I have one just like that” – or better yet, with additional glee: “and I paid $4 for it!” Awesome, I’ll say: “show me a photo of it.” And they disappear into the ethers.

You know what they say about opinions…

it's just a $3 tumbler - right(?) - wrong: it's a hand polished Celestite, worth a lot more

“This is just a $3 tumbler – right?” Wrong: it’s a hand polished Celestite, worth a great deal more.

Sometimes what I buy costs me more than someone else may have found it for. I’ve heard braggadocio like “I can get that for this amount.” I’m like “cool, let’s talk, maybe I should be buying it from you!” Again, the magic vaporization trick.

Some folks just like to hear the sound of their own voices…

In addition to my markups reflecting the considerable time spent choosing ‘greats’ from lesser pieces, they reflect miles driven to faraway places (you know the price of gas!); hours spent sorting through what’s been gotten; the cost of storage bins; display boxes…this isn’t an overhead-free business.

I see plenty of shop owners buying keystone, and charging a standard markup, but that doesn’t do justice to specifically selected stand-outs. And that’s not even taking into consideration a piece’s metaphysical attributes!

awesome Smoky Elestial I saw in a 'local rock shop' with a price tag of $150 more than I'd sold a similar piece for

awesome Smoky Elestial I saw in a ‘local rock shop’ with a price tag of $150 more than I’d sold a similar piece for

I also find myself in stores scratching my head – “why the heck are they charging so much for this?” Tell me that hasn’t happened to you! And yet…they must have their reasons.

Sometimes a rock is just plain worth more, or the seller has put a premium on it, they just don’t want to part with it for less. That’s their prerogative.

Again, you do have choice. You can buy anywhere. Let me repeat, this time for all vendors: “if you want this stone, from this source, this is what it’s going to cost you.”

PART TWO [optional] – the nitty gritty (behind the scenes)…fine print details

awesome, giant Scheelite I have my eye on

awesome, giant Scheelite I have my eye on…it’s here for no other reason than that I like it

I’ve covered some important ground, so far, but I want to address (in this Blog) some more topics that have come up through feedback from customers and the curious. They’ve inquired about pricing on my For Sale page: www.Facebook.com/PowerStone.

As you can see, I have more to say than will comfortably fit on a Post or Comment, so here goes. I so love the flexibility of being able to ‘stretch out’ in my Blogs.

Facebook iconTo begin with, the question: “to price or not to price?” Why I never used to, and why some people still refuse to do it publicly (like on Facebook)…is for a bunch of reasons.

Unlike on one’s own site – mine is www.CrystalConcentrics.com, but I haven’t yet launched my new shopping cart system…it mostly just hosts my blog) – Facebook is (pretty much) an open book. That means that any and everybody can comment (and they often do).

Heckling on price or steering customers elsewhere happens, and it’s not cool. That’s why, even though I used to publish a range (“under $50” or “under $400”) – I have always urged people to “DM” me – that is, direct message me for details.

“DM” is my own challenge to the generally accepted “PM” or private message abbreviation most commonly used. Although I have this request on virtually every item description, I’m astonished that people still prefer to Comment with questions, instead of writing me directly, as I’ve requested. The result – regrettably – is that I don’t notice their outreach till months later, if at all.

Moving on: wholesalers (even from other countries) have been known to come in and try to undercut you to the interested party, or separately message them, trying to steal the sale. Also not cool…and it doesn’t serve anyone, in the long run.

I learned this lesson the hard way – a LONG time ago – when I had 2 retail stores selling international clothing and jewelry. My suppliers started opening up direct-to-retail shops in the neighborhood. What happened? The bottom fell out of the market (for me and for them).

Jewelry show display

Jewelry show display

Sure, I want to get buyers the best possible prices, but after awhile, know that if the margin becomes too slim, it becomes pointless even to carry the product (never mind photograph it, post it, talk about it, etc.).

Remember, all vendors also have to have a huge amount of money tied up in inventory – to stay stocked – so they’ve got to believe in their product (and the pricing they’ve chosen).

In my case – you’ll also have to take into consideration that when I walk into a private healing session with a client (or a class) – sporting thousands of dollars in stellar material – that stuff will never be sold. It’s being held strictly for therapeutic purposes. It’s like water being tied up in the glaciers, never being turned over, even for the price that was paid. Think of all that capital out of circulation.

I can’t sell any one piece for less that I think it merits. That being said – you should know that my regular customers sometimes enjoy major discounts – as much as 30-40% off! It’s, ultimately, about making the sale – having product move, in the larger flow of Life energy – and creating the space for new and different items.

One more factor the Buyer should account for: privately held collection pieces not earning for the Seller. One wholesaler I met doesn’t have that problem – he saves nothing – but I can’t think of many who can resist holding onto some precious Crystals for themselves.

How do you even begin to price a giant elestial double terminated quartz(?!)

How do you even begin to price a giant Elestial double terminated Quartz(?!)

In all fairness, you (or I) really have no idea what the Seller actually bought the merchandise for, or what their overhead may be.

Just today, I bought some pieces Retail, because they’re that special. I was willing to ‘overspend’ because I know those pieces have their ‘rightful owners’ out there, and I’m their steward (until such time).

I can’t speak for others – but I spend a lot of time dealing with product – I take photos of everything; have paid for a sophisticated in-the-cloud inventory system; and have many other time and material costs which are incurred (behind the scenes) to bring you the best selection I can.

I am prepared to sit on an item if it doesn’t sell (cause it’s that good) – and if it does go (especially if it’s unique) – I may have a real struggle trying to replace it. So sometimes, it’s better to hold something until the right buyer comes along. Thankfully) they are out there. I am so grateful for the discerning customer!

Volume, which is the lifeblood of wholesalers, is not the prime motivator of this metaphysical retailer (though it is for some). If you have a storefront, and lots of folks coming through, you want to move as much product as possible. My goal here is to focus on quality over quantity, and to match the buyer with the right stone for them, regardless of price.

I take extra time talking or emailing with people – to make sure we ‘get it right’ – and that’s part of why I have a 100% satisfaction rate. When a total stranger (online) makes an inquiry – I do ask for their email, to followup – and build the relationship. If they refuse to share that with me [I’ve never abused someone’s contact information], chances are: they won’t be that great to do business with. Another way of thinking about this is – what if someone walked into your store with an invisibility cloak – and balked at you asking them to remove it before talking to them?

As stated, valuation is not a rigid science – costs can change over time. I wouldn’t want to be held accountable for outdated pricing (“but in November, you said this cost such-and-such”)…especially if later, I find that the piece has become that much harder to find (or sudden abundance lowers the price it can command). Not posting exact numbers used to give me the flexibility to bargain, too – if it made sense – or I’d just hold out for my highest asking price.

purple Flourite bowl

unique purple Flourite bowl

Having been in the business 25 years, I’ve seen a LOT of rocks, from what’s in the shops, to gem shows…a great gamut of retail and wholesale offerings. I’ve even sampled what the museums are sporting (though I’m sad that it’s always behind glass)! I’ve got a pretty good sense of what is out there, what’s not likely to come around again, and what’s a fad.

Yes, even in the crystal world (or especially?), there are phases and fashions. New finds get milked (become all the rage, like Fluorite bowls – a purple example pictured here – were “happening” just a few years ago…and then they’ve disappeared since. Am I gonna charge more for something like that? You betcha.

New Age names & qualities (like the “Auralite 23” phenomenon) get slapped onto pieces that had otherwise gone unnoticed. These in particular – end up fetching a ridiculous premium – but oddly, I find myself liking (and buying) them regardless. If it’s worth it, it’s worth it.

I have priced pieces for the long run, not just based on what I paid for them. I have to take into consideration what I estimate their long term value will be…mindful of the current market, but also of its future.

pair of Saphires

blue and yellow Sapphire

I do get some surprises, at times. Because much of my stock has been accumulated over 10 and 20 years, even my pricing can get out of date.

Take for example these Sapphires (pictured left and available here, on Facebook). I don’t even know what I paid for them – an I was willing to basically give them away – but now, they apparently fetch upwards of $50 a gram(!), currently.

Some vendors are in a hurry for turnover – others like attracting the lowest bidders – not me. That’s part of why I don’t do auctions. I’ve held some stones a quarter century, and don’t mind holding them some more. I’m really not comfortable ‘giving them away’ to someone who doesn’t truly appreciate their value.

That can happen after I’m gone. But if I have anything to do with it, I’ll have all my inventory properly codified and transferable, so anyone can know from looking at my archives what these pieces should sell for.

I passed up the 18 carat Gold bracelet I once wanted, and any big rings, for this diversified investment in a different kind of earth bounty. I give thanks to Mother Earth, Gaia and “the G*ds” – however you want to call him, her, or them – for giving me the eye (and occasionally, the full wallet) to have come this far in my collecting. I’d like to think what’s happened up till now is the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible.

As you can see, I value my time and inventory highly. The reason I’ve taken so long in writing this Blog post – days, probably, over it’s various incarnations – is that it really matters to me what you, the reader, think. I have to present every angle I can think of, to make sure you can see my nuanced perspective (and become as informed as possible).

twin pair of giant Candle Quartz

twin pair of giant Candle Quartz

My mission now, is to share and to educate, so that more people will appreciate the worth of Crystals – not just for their rarity (or beauty) – but for their unique energetic qualities (even if that lends a financial boost to their price tag).

I boast a piece’s metaphysical merits only when I have personal experience indicating this would be appropriate, as opposed to some others’ making claims, attributing to them a laundry list of supposedly scientific and magical attributes.

Ours is a fine line – the metaphysician sellers’ – between what is, and what is imagined to be. Sometimes how we feel matters most. I just want to be wary of the “Emperor’s Clothes” syndrome – where everybody believes something just because everybody else believes in it – or some “master” went and put it down on paper. That feels spurious, and not sufficient basis for a shared belief.

There are treasured varieties out there that I just ‘don’t feel’ – but again – I won’t ‘poo-poo’ another’s gig. If it’s working for them and their customers, then as I’ve heard said: “who G*d bless, let no man curse!”

———————————-

blogger Kyle Russell, also founder of Crystal Concentrics and Power Stone Crystals

blogger Kyle Russell, also founder of Crystal Concentrics and Power Stone Crystals

Hope to connect with you, email: CrystalConcentrics@gmail.com

Facebook Pages:

http://www.Facebook.com/PowerStoneCrystals (strictly For Sale items)

http://www.Facebook.com/CrystalConcentric (new modality, inspirations, and personal collection pieces)

Facebook Profile: http://www.Facebook.com/CrystalConcentrics

Facebook Group 1 (for New Englanders):                                       http://www.Facebook.com/Groups/CrystalsNewEngland

Facebook Group 2 (for chronic rock spenders):                                       http://www.Facebook.com/Groups/Gemoholics Anonymous

Pinterest: http://Pinterest.com/CrystalsPower

Twitter: @CrystalsPower

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Facebook for Crystals

Facebook for Crystals

Facebook iconYou know how people say: “I’ll Facebook you” – it’s a turn of phrase, a language unto itself. My title is apt, then…it’s like “French for hello!” In this case, I’m talking about how Crystals are “done” on Facebook. About this I’m no expert, but I used my holiday “time off” (at the end of last year) to apply my interest & expertise to getting some first hand experience…some education about it. I more than dipped my foot into the water. I learned a lot. And I made some new Friends.

KRucial Reggae logoI do have history with Facebook – a lot of history – because of my ongoing involvement in the Reggae music promotions business (check out KRucial Reggae on Facebook). But the audience is different…and so is the content.

Crystal Concentrics page imageUnless I’m mistaken, I only opened my Crystal Powers profile in March of 2012; and my Crystal Concentrics page in September (this past Fall…also in 2012). I’ve ballooned to over 1000 Likes in 4 months!

I must be doing something right. I do have to give credit to my re-commitment to pursuing and sharing this part of myself – awakened by supernatural happenstance in 1987 (the year of the last Mayan calendrical blip: the “Harmonic Convergence”) – and now I urgently need to share what I know with some new audiences. That’s part of why I’m putting effort into these Blogs at my main site (www.CrystalConcentrics.com), as well as doing Classes, Slide Shows, and writing a Book. The urgency has to do with the fact that I can contribute a lot to people’s understanding – differently from “what else is out there” – and I’m hoping to accelerate our own Spiritual process. I want to fully engage what I have to offer, in terms of knowledge and power stones.

Twitter FollowUsOn A little history. “In the beginning” (and this was through my @CrystalsPower Twitter feed to Facebook – which I coincidentally, also set up in 2012 also) – I posted just quotes – and mostly my own. Now, I’m posting images of mine (including of others’ pieces), and re-posting insightful quotes from my Facebook Friends. Change is in the air, and I can feel the opportunity coming for me to sell my stones too (and perhaps others’ as well) online.

Yard SaleIt wasn’t long ago, I thought that after I died, my children would have to “give away” my collection at a yard sale. The mineral, never mind the energetic values, would never be properly recognized, and what represents a lifetime of collecting would change hands for cents on the dollar (if that). I no longer feel that way. I am suddenly confident that I’ll be able to “move” a number of stones sooner, rather than later, including pieces I’ve been “sitting on”/hoarding unnecessarily.

For metaphysically oriented folks – there’s blend of Spiritualism and Materialism in their interest in stones – and I’m no different. For those who don’t “feel the vibes” – I’m not sure what it is – maybe just a job. Surely, the beauty and mystery of these naturally formed artworks is alluring to all.

Whatever the reasons may be that people are drawn to gems & minerals – I see there’s a market out there – and some of my new Friends are reporting some great success servicing it. They do lament “wolves in sheep’s clothing” – posers peddling miracle cures – like the snake oil salesmen of yore. The “real deal” folks assert that authenticity in your approach is what the buyer really seeks (along with good stones & appropriate pricing). So I started looking around, to separate the wheat from the chaff, and maybe get a few new pieces for myself (in the process).

ebay-logo-redesign-2There’s a lot of auctions – like EBay – which I have checked out…and still want to learn more about. There’s so much to learn, for sure, and an astonishing variety of product available (although for some varieties, it can be maddeningly slim). The interface is pretty straightforward on EBay, often multiple images are visible (for any given piece), and the zoom-in capability is a great feature. I still think the size of Facebook images – though simpler (and that’s a good thing) – is still making it easier to really see pieces closer up, and at higher resolution. But some of the vendors – even ones who use or prefer EBay – complained about the service’s surcharges. They also felt that EBay favored the Buyer over the Seller in disputes. They, and others, not even on EBay, have realized they can reach their buying public directly – minus the fees – and do alright for themselves.

One friend was astonished I’d never participated in an auction (of any kind). Sure, I’d seen tons of dealers on Facebook – and I saw their posts – but many are cryptic: no price or (often) no explanation of what we’re looking at (or why we should care about it). Often, I’ve had to beg for info. I’m sure a lot of people give up, move on, don’t bother. The quality of images is sometimes low, but at least you can buy them (if they’re not “Sold” – which another Friend posted: a ton of – unavailable merchandise which had “walked” last year). The auction business model clearly works for a lot of people – Buyers think they can get stuff for less, or set their own prices – and depending on demand, Sellers can be pleasantly surprised at getting more than they’d originally hoped for.

Pinterest LogoI’ve been more used to, and preferred (for several months – since I got into it – also last year) checking out images on my Pinterest account. The quality of images is excellent, but a lot of the pieces are inaccessible – from museums, it seems – and nary a one for sale. I actually found out about a few stones on Pinterest that had a long tail…I could have “had them.”

AmetrineFollowing the image back to its original source posting (which you can do in Pinterest by clicking on the image itself, so see where it originated, or was “taken” from), I learned that one WAS available: an exorbitant Ametrine to die for, located in Europe. Ametrine is the natural occurance of yellow or orange Citrine, within Amethyst. I’m still not sure if it’s always “as-is,” or whether heat treatment enhances it. In any case, I was talking to the company rep about it – and then the company owner, through Facebook – wanting to know their terms (it took awhile…time and distance intervening). Foreign vendors can be obtuse about their Policies: pricing, packing, postal methods, guarantees, returns…unless you ask and nail them down on the details). And I learned a few other things that have to be taken into consideration, but I’ll get into that later.

Suddenly: “poof” – someone else bought the crystal out from under me – I had no idea there was even any interest (apart from my own)! I was irate that they didn’t even ask me first…or not assume that I wanted to have first dibs (given my obvious interest). They said I hadn’t “put it on reserve,” which I didn’t even know I was expected to do. So you’d better say something & secure a commitment to hold anything, if you’re serious about it. To be fair, Sellers have to sift through a lot of tire kickers, and though they (both the staff member & owner) were apologetic, it was ultimately water under the bridge for them. They’re in the business of selling stuff, and if I ain’t buying, why do I matter?

Ametrine i gotFortunately, I was able to find another Ametrine – at a price I could live with – and just one state away from me (though they-top in color, but “a bird in the hand…” The yellow may be less bright – though the others were going to take more pix to give me a better sense of the first stone’s true color (their image was admittedly saturated)…but look at this purple! Plus, this piece has great, grounding energy – which you wouldn’t necessarily expect from an Amethyst variety – Amethyst being more about Spirit than Body, per se.

Before that, by a week or so, I got another Ametrine (when it rains it pours). I’d seen some really pretty cool colored points for sale – they’d had that light violet color of the often tiny Kenyan(?) variety – but these were also from Bolivia (and big!). Then I thought about it – they looked just like Amethyst points fallen out of a good sized cluster – and I remembered: I have a superb, deep purple (hand held) point from Brazil already. So I declined.

Ametrine generatorOne of the last to sell (cause they did go within days) was an actual Ametrine generator (ie. it stands with its point upwards – and as they often do – it had a flat, polished base, for stability). I went for it, because I’ve been trying to acquire an Ametrine for years, and the price / piece never seemed right before. I developed rapport with the Seller (as I have with everyone, above and below). This one was just right – it was a bit bigger than I expected (images can be deceiving) – but that could also be ’cause the seller’s hand might be bigger than mine.

Ametrine bottomOften, you can’t see the full color of an Ametrine unless you turn it in the light, or take it outside. Check this photo out, of the same piece above, but looking up from under it, in proper light. You can see how the yellow often shows up in alternating 6ths of the crystalline structure.

Back to dimensions. Relativity (or size, from different perspectives) – matters – as I learned with my next purchase. This one was another result of some long time hankering. Although I have a few rough “nothing” pieces, and a Pinterest board devoted to Opal (and irridescent stones, which are also “light active”), I’ve long admired it (Opal, that is) – and in particular, Ethiopian Opal – because of its rich, deep colors, and what they call “flash” (the way color is scattered so brilliantly).

Ethiopian Opal Beads, vendor imageSo when I saw the strands pictured here (to the right), I inquired. They were coming from India, which I thought was strange. It turns out they have the bead-making factories. They get the rough from Africa, and process it on their own facilities. The package arrived in perfect shape [in fact every vendor did an excellent job in padding their pieces safely for transit]. It was temporarily delayed in Delhi, because they needed a street address – not true for all senders (especially Stateside, where PO Boxes are okay) – but that makes perfect sense. If you want something signed for, make sure the address you give will work for the delivery service.

Opal strand receivedThe problem was – in person – these beads (the bottom most, darkest strand) were miniscule. Look at this pitiful handful to the left. Tell me they’re even the same beads that I thought I was getting(?), based on the picture above! Fact is – if you allow for radically different color reproduction, the bead variations line up (so it is the same piece). But you can see why I might be pissed off.

Opal within Lava necklacesMy own personal necklaces are 64cm long, and this was was only 45cm [get used to it – centimeters are here to stay – and they’re what most people, even Americans, use]. They barely fit around a my neck(!), never mind over my head [which I prefer…so that I don’t need a clasp]. Check out how my Lava necklace dwarfs those beads I’d just gotten in the mail…

Nowhere had the length of the strands been posted, nor had I been told the size of the beads, in millimeters. But I hadn’t asked either, which was my mistake. My own eyes had lied to me – I should have inquired and took out my ruler – done the conversion and been a better educated buyer.  I shared my disappointment, regardless, and lambasted the wildly inaccurate color reproduction of this vendor’s sales shot. I never did get an apology. I was humbly offered a break on future purchases [the return mail expense would have been prohibitively stupid], and he asked if I knew of a good, used camera he could buy, to take better images in the future.

Lesson learned. At least the “bigger” beads have fantastic flash. Someone’ll buy it from me, or my daughter will make some great earrings out of it. Later on, I’ll get something else from him. His efforts to save face (and his reputation) worked. We’re still Friends.

My Facebook profile: Crystal Powers now attracts a number of Vendors, as well as people outside “the business,” that I just know and like (and think might enjoy my content). Just watching my Wall, I see pieces come up, and again, most of them don’t have too many specifics. I learned that one reason people can be cryptic, is that they don’t want competitors coming in and undercutting them, or trying to steal their hard won audience. I recognize (and feel that impulse) from the music business, too.

To open up my further my “truth in advertising” rant, as far as images are concerned Online, let me tell you another recent story. The moral is both to share with you my “powers of selection” (which you’ll see were a no-brainer), as well as to reiterate the importance – for vendors – to represent their pieces correctly.

Sugilite rough, selectionTake this selection of available Sugilites, this time from another European Seller. Which would you choose? I posted the question on my Wall, and everyone agreed with me. The “Purple Heart” won out, so I ordered it.

Sugilite receivedBut guess what, when I got the piece in the mail, I went back to the online album, and was shocked to see that my stone looked nothing (in color) like “the original” (I thought I was getting). Here we go again!

I asked why, and it turns out that Sugilite is always wet when offered to Buyers – so they can see the “true” color – what it would look like Sugilite, wetpolished (or cut, for jewelry). So I wet my piece, and I brought out the color (albeit temporarily). But that color was still not the one originally represented to me on the web. It’s a beautiful chunk of Sugilite, and I have a request in for a bigger one – sharp edges, crisp texture – but it’s not what I thought I was getting, happy as I am to have it. So beware: the way a crystal looks on screen is not necessarily (though it ought to be) the same as what the eye sees.

My advice goes out to all Vendors – “hold your rocks up to the screen, after you’ve uploaded any given photo – and if it’s not matching…find better way to get your images representing your merchandise. You owe that to your buyers!”

Now I bought several other pieces – and I could go on, ad infinitum about what they were – and what the process was that I went in acquiring them. However, this Blog is getting a bit long in the tooth, and I want to leave you with one more caution, as well as on a positive note.

Tourmaline cluster “Objects are smaller than they appear.” This we’ve learned, above. But there’s more. The story above notwithstanding – there are a ton of truly amazing pieces, very well photographed, up close – that are really tiny…and you should prepare yourself for that. Take for example, this finely terminated Tourmaline. I didn’t buy it – yet – but I’m thinking seriously about doing so. Looks to be about 4-6 inches, right. That’s 15.24 centimeters (sounds even bigger in metric)!

Tourmaline cluster by handBut guess what, with the perspective (provided by the Seller, who I’d gotten one of the Ametrines above from) – using the hand and fingers – you get to see what you’re really dealing with: spectacular for sure, but veritably small. So I recommend, almost better than using a only a ruler (which is more scientific), or listing the measurements [be ready with your conversion formulas] – just get some proper perspective by seeing a piece handheld. That’s the best way to show people not only that your color reproduction is pretty much faithful, but how big the stone really is.

For my purposes – metaphysically – you have to ask yourself: would I want to put this thing on my forehead (would it even balance?)…cause that’s pretty much the only place it’ll be of any use (aside from in a museum case).

To conclude, it’s been a great less-than-a-month. I’ve met a bunch of great people, several of which I haven’t even mentioned here, and some relationships we’ve launched have got some promising plans hatching. I haven’t shown you everything I purchased – it’s not necessary – but what I’ve shown all illustrate a point. Try to make sure you know what you’re getting, before you throw down. Size and color can be in the eye of the beholder.

Mere measurements can also fail to convey the true vibe of a stone. Keep your eyes (and your “third eye”) open, maybe get some advice from an expert (hint, hint). I might not know everything, but I know what I know – which helped me navigate the experience of buying on Facebook. Twenty five years experience Offline helped me navigate my Online purchasing – if not always before my purchase – certainly afterwards. And politeness, or professionalism goes a long way towards maintaining relationships, even if things get complicated.

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Kyle Russell, Crystal Concentrics founderHope to see you regional folks at my events coming up (calendar/schedule for dates) – wish me luck in my book-writing (I have several planned) – and visit my other links here:

Facebook Page:

http://www.Facebook.com/CrystalConcentric

Facebook Profile: http://www.Facebook.com/CrystalConcentrics

Facebook Group (for New Englanders):                                       http://www.Facebook.com/Groups/CrystalsNewEngland

Pinterest: http://Pinterest.com/CrystalsPower

Twitter: @CrystalsPower/

Two events I had, in early 2013 (as of this writing): on Tuesday, January 29th, a Slide Show (showcasing the highlights of my travels to PeruGalapagos, Italy – and including a guided tour of my virtual Pinterest collection) – and on Saturday, February 16th: a Crystal Healing Basics Class.

A Time to Give Back

Kyle, with the Ponte Veccio in the background (Florence, Italy)

QUICK UPDATE:

I just got back from Italy and Canada – see more photos below – and I’m raring to go with a BUNCH of new plans and projects for the season. Stay tuned and/or be in touch at CrystalConcentrics@gmail.com.

INTRO:

My Blogs can be lengthy. I have things to say. My Tweets are brief – I like them too – you should check them out as well (@CrystalsPower). In Blogs, I stretch out, pursue my thoughts to their conclusions. In Twitter, my thoughts are conclusions themselves.

In any case, this Fall is a turning point (as it always is, for most of us). The new season – academic semester, and Hebrew new year (which always begins in September or October) – together provide the perfect opportunity to refocus and prioritize. I will at once be working more on Results and on Process – and I hope to engage you in both, because our connection could accelerate our individual and collective progress (if we let it!).

Specifically, I’m going to make my knowledge & services more available, and I’m going to market them in new ways – to groups and individuals – through social networking, presentations, and direct contact.

The “ad” or banner graphic I’ll be placing here – is meant to represent that process – check it out (I’ll share it with you in due time), and contact me if interested, at CrystalConcentrics@gmail.com. Also, this site’s Contact (and Services) section has useful information you may wish to read over.

Basically, I’m identifying the What (which is: in person or remote sessions); the Why (benefits to you: groundedness, connection with Spirit, etc.); and the How (by contacting me!) of my work.

Most of my other work involves my collaboration with teams – this is more directly expressive – for me and for you.

…now for my MAIN BLOG content

A Time to “Give Back”

When I see self-satisfied celebrities thank their fans as they received awards – or publicly donate to charity – I wince at the whole concept of ‘giving back.’ For what, I ask myself. All they have was freely given them. They’ve delivered some benefit, simply by their being. Maybe their beauty provides light, or their acting is of particular interest. If not on stage, maybe they offer some other gift or talent. Ultimately, they’ve touched people with their work. If the exchange is complete – and everybody’s happy with what they got out of the deal – then where comes the surplus or motivation to return anything? Is it just vanity reflecting vanity…a kind of kickback to the audience for their hard work in lifting a star?

I have recently ‘gotten’ it, why they do that (at least some of them). I myself feel like I’m at a crossroads, and similarly inclined. It doesn’t have to be a pointless, showy transaction. The calculus – I imagine – is that the ‘successful’ person has gotten what they feel is more than enough benefit from the world – their cup runneth over – and they have something extra to share with others.

It’s not about money or fame (though again, it certainly can be). It certainly isn’t for me – having lost as much as I’ve gained – and having fought for whatever recognition I’ve earned. I’ve been lucky in my life, though – in more ways than I can count, and with some consistency – though I continue to have my fair share of tribulations.

Extraordinary Papal resting place, above a door way, with Death plunging through marble fabric, holding an hourglass of time, and passing easily through the veil between worlds! (at St. Peter’s, Vatican City, Italy)

I stand – even as I perceive the extreme fragility of life and circumstance – at a mid-life OASIS (as opposed to a mid-life crisis). At least according to the averages – I have lived half my life – and am looking ‘over the hill,’ but I’d like to think: from its top! Rather than lamenting what I haven’t done (or achieved), I’m relishing the opportunity to use my remaining time to reflect myself even more fully into the world…sharing more aspects of myself – hoping to reach a place of expression I can feel great about later – when all is said and done.

I’ve been around – literally – to 3 continents and probably 100+ cities…and have walked amongst many different types of people. I constantly feel like my work is never done – like I could always do (or have) – more…most of us solopreneurs do suffer from this angst. Yet I do have the basic attributes of an American Dream fulfilled: home, spouse, children. I don’t have a lot of material possessions (maybe stones, I do have lots of them), but I’ve pretty much been able to get by and have what I need to get through. My immediate and extended family have been generous, and I’m not lacking for connections there.

For someone who had cancer, as a young man (and thought living past 30 was unlikely), I’ve had a full life. I’m grateful to be approaching my 25th year of self-employment, still pursuing my Muse, and daily unearthing new and fulfilling revelations about Life, Body, Mind, and Spirit.

To that end, I’ve always collected amazing stones, whenever I could: at gem shows, hikes, gift shops. My collection is substantial – and rivals, for my own practical purposes – what I’ve seen for sale at any given display ‘out there.’ It may not be worth – on the open market – what some minerologists have going, but energetically, it can do more for the world than I have it doing for me alone…and it ought to!

That’s why now – and stretching back into earlier 2012 (which makes it 25 years since I was turned on to crystal power) – I’m writing a book to capture the philosophy of my belief system. In it, I explore how this work is not about Science, or even Health, per se – but per my graphic above (to show a cycle of Earth, Body, and Spirit) – it’s about bringing in Spirit from the Earth, and allowing both to more fully participate in our daily life experience.

In addition to my main site: www.CrystalConcentrics.com, I have the Twitter account mentioned above (@CrystalsPower), and both a Profile (Crystal Concentrics on Facebook – using the name Crystal Powers – at http://www.facebook.com/CrystalConcentrics) and a Page on Facebook (Crystal Concentrics Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Crystal-Concentrics/149848836492). I flood these with semi-daily pithy insights, as well as with posts from my new Crystal Concentrics Pinterest profile there: http://pinterest.com/crystalspower/.

Outstanding Argentine Rhodocrosite, from my Pink Stones board on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/crystalspower/pink-stones/

I like Twitter for its simplicity – and how it forces us to convey only the basic – most important things about how we feel.

I like Facebook because I think I can reach more people that way, and more substantively (because it integrates Shared links really well).

And Pinterest is unrivaled for image sharing…I’ve even created a not-just-stone oriented KRucialArts profile on Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/krucialarts/.

Now quickly, I’d like to share with you the What‘s and Why‘s of Crystal Concentrics.

The What is Sessions – individual or with groups (live or long distance) – meditative, instructional, and/or intentional. The Why are the list of Benefits you can expect from this work: increased Awareness, groundedness, connection with Earth and Spirit; a way to think about the condition of your body and health, as well as methods for interfacing with illness; release of untapped energies and the elevation of your imagination, to experience a natural high without medication. The How is ME – this modality – just give me a call or email CrystalConcentrics@gmail.com, so we can set something up and explore these possibilities together.

North African marble, on felled column (Pallatine Hill, Rome, Italy)

Lastly, I’d like to share with you some pertinent Boards I set up on Pinterest, since my return. First there’s ‘Archi-Texture in Stone’ (http://pinterest.com/crystalspower/archi-texture-in-stone/) where I share the MANY different ways in which stone shows up fascinatingly, not just visually, but in shape and contour…providing you a sense of the energy of rock in daily life (through the ages). I found a particularly large number of examples of this in Italy, where the use of stone has (also) preserved ancient civilizations for millenia. From tall and ruined structures to steps and bridges, even hand railings were made of stone…and all had such an amazing look and feel, possible only in such a well traveled nation(?).

Worked Stone is another Board I’ve just begun to build up: http://pinterest.com/crystalspower/worked-stone/. It’s more about the interesting and functional things people have done with rock through construction and ornamentation.

Stone of organic source and appearance, Creemore center (Ontario, Canada).

In closing, I’d like to share with you this image taken in Canada – where (north of Toronto) – there is what is called ‘the escarpement:’ an area that was once covered by seas, and has a lot of organically sourced stone. I like it because it’s not only clear that it was made up of living material at one point (you can sometimes find fossils), but the stone itself takes on organic shape, like a sponge, or some other living thing, here contrasted with some living succulents.

It isn’t about the Stones alone, though. They’re pretty and interesting – whole industries have arisen out of their aesthetics (gems & jewelry) and functionality (Architecture, construction) – but it’s the energy of particular pieces…the Power Stones, that are of interest to me…and I will endeavor to have them become increasingly of interest to you!