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Want To Buy Fossils Wisely?

When looking to buy fossils to create or add to your collection it is advantageous to have some information about the fossils you want and the dealers you are buying from.

Don't Pay Too Much!

You can find fossils at all sorts of gift shops, rock shops, and nature stores. But here’s the hitch: BE CAREFUL! The one-of-a-kind nature of fossils sometimes has a price tag—a BIG price tag! You need to know whether your fossil purveyor is reputable and knowledgeable, but most importantly, YOU need to know if they are overcharging you!

A Shopping Trip Brings A Shopping Tip

We found ourselves in a jewelry store that sold a very popular and pricey kind of ammonite to be made into jewelry. These ammonites truly are EXPENSIVE! But right alongside the expensive Canadian ammonites, were ammonites from Madagascar. These small ammonites are also very beautiful and unique…but not worth the 0 price tags that they were sporting. In fact, a fair price for them would have been between and 0. This is not the kind of place to buy fossils.

Rule Of Thumb Price Guide

When I go into a new fossil shop to buy fossils I start by looking for 2 or three very common fossils, that I am familiar with and have seen for sale in many places. Trilobites, ammonites, orthoceras, and sometimes fossil shark teeth are what I look for. Now there is a great range in quality, size, prices, and rarity for these fossils like any other. What I am hunting are commercial grade, inexpensive, and very common. When I find one or more of these I compare prices with my memory bank of other stores prices for similar specimens. My memory is not what it once was but even I can get a feel for prices on two or three fossils.

The rest is easy; the store fits into 1 of 3 categories:

  • They are overpriced, and I won’t buy fossils here.

  • The prices are fair. If I see something I really like I may buy it.

  • The prices are great. I’ll probably buy fossils here.

Remember, When you buy fossils, price alone does not a bargain make. The quality, size, and variety have to be similar to make this rule of thumb work.

Interview The Shop Owner

That sounds kind of formal doesn't it. This is really an informal process. Just talk to the owner of the shop. Why are they in this business? Often you will find that they have a geology or palentology background. This is a good sign, though there are lots of good dealers out there with no formal training. A passion for fossils, rocks, or earth science is the key component to a good dealer. How long have they been in business? Do they stand behind their sales and sales claims?

The bigger the price tag the more you need to know about your dealer. Some fossil pieces cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. This is a major investment! Do some research.

About the Author: Claudia Mann is a teacher, and a contributor to where you can read more about how to buy fossils. Claudia and her husband own a place where you can find a unique gift ideas, classroom fossils, or something special for yourself.

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