Skip to Content

Ultimate Guide: Making Money by Selling Rocks & Minerals

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases with no additional costs for you.

While rockhounding is an incredibly rewarding hobby that can spark a lifelong passion, you may be wondering if this pursuit can also generate income. Some people rockhound professionally and make a living from it, as well as many others with careers dealing with rocks, minerals, and crystals. However, turning this pastime into a profitable vocation is no easy feat. In this post, I want to explore some opportunities and challenges that define earning a living through rockhounding.

First, identify the route you will use to sell your finds. This can be your own rock shop, home setup, or other local rock shops, online as raw finds, mineral, and rock shows, or through shops as homemade pieces. Then, make sure this route is reliable by networking. Then, and only then, research thoroughly and construct efficient searches.

Every step of the process depends on how you want to sell your findings. This article is here to help you customize your process for finding and selling depending on your circumstances.

Can you Make Money Selling Rocks or Gem Hunting?
Can you Make Money Selling Rocks?

If you are interested in how much you can earn by selling rocks online, check out this and this online collection and browse around (affiliate links).

Can you Make Money Selling Rocks?

While turning your rockhounding hobby into a profitable career is certainly possible, it’s no simple feat. Like many passions-turned-professions, it demands perseverance, extensive knowledge, a few insider tricks, and more than a bit of luck.

In this article, I aim to provide a foundation of crucial know-how to get you started down this path. But before we dive deeper, it’s important first to determine what level of income you aspire to generate from selling rocks and minerals. There are essentially three main avenues:

  1. Full-time job
  2. Side hustle
  3. A hobby that gives you some spending money

While this article will touch on all three income avenues, defining your target upfront is crucial. After all, prioritizing profit over passion can necessitate a more businesslike approach involving market research and formal planning – considerations that may or may not align with your rock-hounding aspirations. Embracing a commercial mindset from the start will inevitably influence how you source, identify, and handle your raw materials.

For now, this section will outline the fundamental routes you can take specific to the initial phases of rockhounding as a revenue stream: finding, identifying, and working with unrefined rocks and minerals in their natural state. If your primary interest lies in processing stones through polishing, faceting, or jewellery-making, we’ll cover those value-added activities in the next section.

Full-time Job Opportunities

You have undoubtedly seen rock shops around your town or other places you have gone. These are businesses like any other, sometimes with owners and other employees working full-time. Such positions usually involve:

  • buying entire collections,
  • browsing auctions,
  • buying from part-time rockhounds,
  • or shopping wholesale online.

Being a rock shop owner is, of course, not all about rocks. You need to keep an inventory targeted to your customers, keep finances, and network with other players in the industry.

If you are more into finding rocks, mining careers are still around, and owning, operating, and even working in mines are great ways to make money through a rock passion.

Side Hustles and Hobbies

Because most of you probably do not want to start a rock and mineral tycoon in the business world, I will focus on passive income opportunities.

You may just like finding, identifying, or otherwise with rocks, and you want a place for them to go, whether because you do not want them to just sit around your flat or because you’d like someone to benefit from them as much as you have while working with them.

Either way, in this case, you have many options and many ways to make a bit of money from your rocks.

If you are a rockhound and you just want to sell your findings raw, there are many people like you. However, you should be warned that the mineral hunts you’ll partake in may become longer and more logistical. You have various options concerning who to sell your findings to and at which stage of the process.

Many rockhounds set up a shop at their homes, advertise, and allow visitors to browse their collections in a display room.

Others decide to hunt just a few types of minerals for a specific set of rock shops. Some will sell tumbled rocks in batches online, and others will sell raw materials to middlemen who sell to jewelry companies.

The logistically easiest opportunity is selling to a mineral wholesaler. Still, those have been quoted to give anywhere from 1-50% of the mineral’s final value – making this not the most profitable affair.

TIP: You can start rockhounding right in your backyard; you can actually find a lot of interesting rocks and minerals there. Check out twelve of the most common rocks in backyards in the article below:
12 Gemstones You Can Find in Your Backyard Right Now

Can You Make Money Gem Hunting?

Gem hunting is similar to hunting rocks in that you will be much less efficient in finding gems than a mining operation, your competitors. Another large barrier is that private claims own the most promising areas and cannot be dug on. However, you have an advantage: you can find gems in places with smaller deposits or that are inaccessible for mining equipment.

These barriers just mean that if you want to make finding gems a considerable source of income, you need to do large-scale research, just like mining companies. While you don’t have mineral pocket-searching equipment, you do have an advantage – you don’t need a large-scale operation to be profitable.

Therefore, do your geological research and find smaller places that are legal to search but also have either:

  1. Stopped operation because of too little material or other costs which don’t apply to you.
  2. Nearby claims or prospects and geological chance (based on the gem’s formation process) that they occur in an un-claimed area.

Use Mindat and other geological databases to find these areas. If you research and find a promising spot, find some good material there; I encourage you to look into the possibility of claiming the land yourself.

It’s not always an insurmountable cost as it may seem, and if you’re worried about the implications for other rockhounds, there are always ways to allow others to hunt on your property. Don’t underestimate a small bit of property consulting along the way!

How does Buying and Selling Gemstones Make Money?

Many careers in the jewellery industry depend on the concept of buying a gemstone or polished mineral, adding value to it, and selling it for profit. The idea of adding profit to a gemstone can be as simple as sorting the valuable from the cheap and can be as hands-on as cleaning, polishing, or faceting a gem. Indirect jobs such as jewellery designers also add value.

If you are not an avid rockhound or do not live somewhere where you can easily find rocks, there are also options if you prefer to search for gems.

You may also like to tumble, polish, paint, carve stones, or make, buy, sell, or trade jewelry. These all go into the same category of finished products, and money-making opportunities are divided into the same sections as the first.

Full-time Job Opportunities

Gem shops are, in fact, very rare, but some rock shops are known to sell less raw material and more gemstones, jewellery, and other mineral products.

I am sure you have seen such stores in tourist districts of mountain towns. These stores are exciting to own but come with the same tasks that are not necessarily related to the stones required to run a business.

If you are more interested, the jewellery industry is huge and has many different places that involve buying and selling gemstones.

In these cases, your hunting process may take you to auctions or wholesalers, and your skillset should involve endless knowledge of appraising, faceting, setting, or displaying gems.

If this interests you, look at the supply chain of your local or favourite jewellery shop, which is always clearly displayed in their shop or on their website.

TIP: Do you know how to know valuable rocks, minerals, or crystals? Check out these 6 crucial signs + related locations with valuable rocks in the article below:
6 Signs That a Rock Is Valuable + Examples & Location Tips

Side Hustles and Hobbies

There are also many rock enthusiasts who buy gems or polished minerals at wholesale prices, work with them, and sell end products.

This often entails creativity in creating jewelry or other artistic works from the stones. Still, it can also be extracting gems, appraising a collection, selling the most valuable, and many other things.

If you browse Etsy for a few minutes, you’ll inevitably encounter a few people doing this exact thing. Some buy raw rocks, polish them, and set them into jewelry. Some buy the gems themselves and work with metals to make jewelry out of them.

BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):

How can I Sell my Gemstones for Cash?

If you aim to generate cash from your mineral finds, your best bet is to get them appraised and then take that valuation to a local auction house or reputable dealer specializing in purchasing loose gemstones.

Several avenues exist for selling gems and mineral specimens, but this only becomes relevant once you’ve successfully sourced something worthwhile. Still, it’s wise to research your sales options early on – even before extensively hunting with commercial intent. Many buyers have specific preferences for what they’ll purchase, so it would be unfortunate to unearth a fantastic gemstone without an appropriate buyer lined up to pay its true value.

Build relationships with qualified appraisers once you’ve identified viable sales channels and their respective criteria. Gemology is a complex science requiring years of study to accurately assess a gemstone’s worth and provide an official valuation report admissible to buyers. For any specimens you suspect could be valuable, at minimum, have them examined by an appraiser first.

However, even after obtaining an appraisal, realize you may not receive the full listed value when selling the gem for cash. Typically, jewelers purchase inventory through established wholesale suppliers, which allows them payment plan flexibility. When buying gems outright for cash, they lose that advantage.

Rushing to sell premium gemstones for quick cash risks leaving significant money on the table. Approach this process patiently, follow standard industry protocols, and invest in educating yourself on recognizing true gemstone quality and fair market values. With care and diligence, you can optimize your returns.

TIP: Are you just a rockhound beginner who wants to start a business by selling rocks? Don’t worry. Check out this ultimate guide with the basics of rockhounding and start becoming a PRO!
How to Start Rockhounding: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

Where to Sell Rocks Online

Where to Sell Rocks Online? Make Money by selling Rocks Online
Where to Sell Rocks Online? Make Money by selling Rocks Online

There are many places to sell rocks online; the correct place will depend on what you have, how much, and in what condition. For large quantities of raw minerals, look at e-rocks, cashforrocks, or other reputable wholesale sites. For unique specimens, try gemrockauctions.

Selling rocks online has the plus of reaching many buyers easily, which raises the chance of getting the true value of your rocks.

However, you will understand that it brings insecurities with not personally interacting with the buyer and them not personally interacting with you.

You should be especially wary of this when selling more valuable pieces. If you are looking to sell pieces that you have worked on, Etsy is a great platform that you can usually rely on to match you with a buyer, especially for more niche pieces.

TIP: Tumbled rocks can often be sold at a higher price. But what if you don’t own a rock tumbler? Then you can try to tumble rocks without a rock tumbler following this complete guide:
Can You Tumble Rocks Without a Tumbler? Step-by-Step Guide

Companies that Buy Rocks

If you want to liquidate your entire rock and mineral collection quickly, contacting a wholesaler is likely your best option. However, if you prefer selling finds piecemeal as you acquire them, I recommend utilizing online or offline marketplaces to connect directly with private collectors or smaller commercial buyers.

We’ve already covered how wholesalers may pay lower prices to account for the hassle of sorting, grading, and reselling your entire collection. But the convenience may be worth the premium to some. Keep this potential avenue in mind, depending on your needs.

If you’re willing to put in more hands-on effort, attend rock and mineral shows, join enthusiast societies/clubs, and expand your network. Doing so increases your chances of finding private individuals interested in purchasing specific pieces from your collection.

Explore partnering with local rock shops for a middle-ground approach between rapid bulk selling and piecemeal retail. These speciality stores can acquire intriguing specimens to resell without you having to handle each transaction yourself.


So, now you know your options if you want to make a career in the mineral and jewellery industries and how to make some money as a rockhound.

You know the challenges of finding, buying, and selling rocks and gems and have some ideas on how to overcome them best. Good luck in your endeavours!

TIP: Rockhounding in the desert might not seem rewarding at first. However, there are many rocks, minerals, and gemstones that you can find if you know where to look for them. Find out more in the article below:
Rockhounding in Desert: How to Find + 5 Best Places in the USA