Cornerstone Minerals & Natural History is a mecca for mineral and fossil collectors


WHETHER COLLECTOR, GEOLOGIST or investor, mineral devotees are a passionate group of people. It’s easy to see why. Minerals are fascinating, one-of-a-kind sculptures created by nature. They come in vibrant colors, exciting shapes and they sparkle. Mineral collectors are a zealous group, some traveling to mines in far-off, dangerous places to score a showpiece for their collection. Lucky for us, we have a source for beautiful, high-end minerals right here in Charleston.

Cornerstone Minerals attracts college students, collectors, tourists and even interior designers. The store stocks a wide variety of fine minerals and crystals, from small pieces to get your collection started to cabinet pieces and museum-quality specimens, along with beautiful pieces that are used to accent one’s favorite room or office.

Some remarkable specimens on hand include icy-pink tourmaline from Brazil, turquoise blue dioptase from Namibia and deep purple amethysts from Uruguay, Mexico and Bolivia. Some of the minerals are perfectly striated, some are made up of dozens of naturally occurring cubes, and some seem to bloom like underwater coral. It’s hard to stop marveling at what’s on display and easy to want to possess one so you can stare at it every single day. And that’s OK!

“High-end mineral specimens are a good investment,” says Greg Turner Sr., general manager and collector. “They tend to hold their value in both good and bad economies, right behind high-end art. My son, Greg Jr., started the business in 2005. He has gained the reputation of ‘having a good eye’ for fine minerals and has assembled a wonderful selection of fine specimens for both collectors and museums, too.”

Minerals get their interesting structures and colors from the chemical elements of which they are made and the geometry of how their atoms are arranged and bonded. For example, the icy pink of the Brazilian tourmaline specimen is due to its cobalt and manganese content. The purple of amethyst comes from trace elements of iron.

The store also carries a wide variety of crystals, which are not only beautiful to look at, but sought after for what some believe are unique metaphysical properties. For example, clear quartz is believed to unblock stagnant energy, selenite is believed to offer protection, and shungite is used to soothe anxiety and encourage healing.

Fascinating fossils are another big draw for the shop. Some specimens are 500 million years old. “What’s really nice is that people are starting to use fossils as décor,” Turner says. “Fossils look great in Charleston homes, and it’s a good way to help preserve natural history.”

Some of the specimens are truly rare and magnificent, such as a cave bear skull from Romania. Smaller fossils add depth and a sense of place to Lowcountry décor, such as impressions in stone of ancient shrimp, crab and fish. Cornerstone Minerals has a treasure trove of enormous megalodon shark teeth from the Cooper River, just in case you don’t want to wade around in the mud looking for your own.

Natural history has become a popular décor motif, and the store has a fascinating variety of small skulls and articulated skeletons on stands or under glass. Today, there’s a vervet monkey skull, a rattlesnake head and neck, and a full bird skeleton. There even is an assortment of real dinosaur bones.

Of the animal skulls in the store, don’t worry—they’re all legally and humanely obtained. Many come from Africa, where game management strategies help meet conservation objectives. Cornerstone Minerals also stocks other natural history décor, such as colorful framed butterflies raised on farms in Peru for the purpose of research and export.

Whether you are a collector, budding archaeologist or geologist, or are interested in adding a conversation piece to your home, Cornerstone Minerals has an
ever-rotating supply of curiosities.

Robin Howard is a freelance writer in Charleston. See more of her work at robinhowardwrites.com.

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