What to charge for the stone?

I inherited hundreds of pounds of semi precious rock rough from my
father. I have become pretty good at cutting and polishing it, but I
have no idea what it is worth. Most of it was acquired in the middle
60s. Attached are pictures of a finished piece of Lapis that is
25X35 mm in a setting that I recently finished. I can price the
setting portion, but I have no idea what to charge for the stone. If
anyone out in Orchid land can help me with this, I would appreciate


Good color Lapis used to be expensive, but ever since the Russians
invaded Afghanistan, great lapis has become common and is not very
expensive. A self-polished cab, large, good color sells for around
$40 to $75. Since you polished it yourself, you could charge more to
cover your time, and tools.

Now, if you carved dung beetles on a settable platform out of those
chunks, you could charge from $300 on up for them, and they sell
like hotcakes.

M J St. Amand

Why not use replacement value as a basis? The fact that the rough
was inherited doesn’t change its current value.

Linda from central FL
who is currently touring the NC mountains on her Harley.

If you were to buy such a stone, what would it cost? That would be
one place to start for pricing. Another is what rockhound sort of
folks would charge for such stone. Looking at the last jpg, it
looked as though the stone is not finished well, not highly
polished. It could be a problem in the photographing process, but
there is no apparent shine.

Pricing these stones would not be too difficult. Just look on the
internet for similar stones and get prices there too.

john dach

John. I have looked all over the internet and came up with about $45
for the stone. The polish is good, my photography set up is designed
to photograph silver and, as a result, it washes out the color in
stones. My challenge is that I have probably 800 -1,000 lbs. of rough
that I inherited from my father. He died years ago and I really don’t
know what to charge for pieces when I finish them because I don’t
have anything invested in the rough. I don’t want to charge for the
time it takes me as I am still learning to cut and polish and I tend
to take longer than I should. In the end, we are competing with the
mass producers of standard sized stones, so I cut freeform or odd
sizes that make sense based on the stone and piece that I put them
into. Thanks. Rob

Rob Meixner

Rob, I once took some of the Labradorite to The Gem and Mineral show
to deliver a few pieces for Dad. He was not well enough to attend at
that time but he told me to accept nothing less than $.80 a carat
for the material(Is Labradorite weighed in carats?) How does that
price compare to your $ 45.00 for the stone you have cut?

Don Meixner

I generally research to understand the going price and go by that.
Especially so in your case since you’re learning and can’t judge
your time, and you don’t have a cost basis for your material.

A truism I learned years ago in business is to understand what the
market will bear, and figure out a way to make a profit at that
price. As opposed to charging too much more because one’s slower,
hasn’t figured out how to buy at discounts etc. Or conversely,
someone (like a casual hobbyist) who doesn’t value their time, gets
material for free, or has free help, and therefore undercharges. You
really can’t go wrong by researching the market. If a unique item,
you can still find something comparable to compare. Real estate
agents do this all the time. Just remember to do your research where
you plan to sell (just like the real estate agent).

Another thing I learned, this time in retail, is that you price
(specifically, raise prices) according to replacement value. If you
sell a hammer, you need to replace it on the shelf. If you priced
and sold it according to last year’s price, after you spend that
hammer’s profit on payroll, utilities, rent, etc. you might not have
enough money to buy a new one. Extrapolate that to every item in the
store, and you’re out of business. So for your material, pretend you
just bought it at whatever price you find on the internet. Why
should your savings on material go to the customer? It should go in
your pocket.


Dear Rob: For Lapis, if it is good Afghani material, you will want to
charge by the weight. Different materials, different prices
obviously. You can give me a call at 1800 873-4572. Maybe I can help.
Diane, Dikra Gem Inc.

Despite the colour being different because of your set up, the light
reflected off the sides makes it obvious that the surface is matt,
not polished. The stone also looks like it’s got a flat spot or even
a table, rather than a uniformly shaped dome.


Don. I think that dad’s lapis was acquired prior to a lot of lapis
coming to market from Afghanistan. Seth bought me some lapis while
he was on assignment in Afghanistan and, based on what he paid for
it, it came out to $.72/gram. That is at the source but sold to a
westerner who had no idea what he was buying or what to pay for it.
In the end I did some internet research for stones of similar size
and description and used $45 as my cost. Rob

Rob Meixner

Thank you for your very constructive comments. Rob

Rob Meixner