Ebay is a great resource for buying and selling minerals. It allows buyers to do a search for any specific mineral or variety, and provides the ability to acquire certain minerals at bargain prices. It also allows simple sellers to receive a much larger audience without setting up a complex online store. There are many legitimate and honest dealers on eBay, and many of these have already established a name for themselves and have dedicated followers. These dealers have developed a sense of trust with their buyers, and they often specialize in a regional area. Such dealers usually have high ratings and a large sell count, and are almost always located in the United States or Canada.
There is, however, what I call the “dark side” of eBay. Some dealers are outright scandalous and totally mislabel their material for higher-valued items. One recent example I have seen is galena geodes from Morroco being sold as natural, while in fact these are fakes. They are created by gluing crushed galena cleavage fragments onto stalactitic quartz/chalcedony growths within a geode. It is bad enough to create and sell such material. But it’s much worse to do that and not mention at all on the page that is is a fake! Some eBay sellers may use exotic, made up synonyms to better market their material, while others provide vague or incorrect locality information on the material they are selling. Another thing to be cautious about when buying on eBay is any minerals or gemstones that could have been heat-treated or irradiated without this information being disclosed. Repairs are another area of concern. While it is accepted practice to repair certain mineral specimens, such as gluing back a broken crystal, this MUST be conveyed to the buyer. A repair on a mineral certainly has an impact on its value, and therefore this information must be presented when a repaired mineral is being offered on eBay. A buyer has no way of knowing whether the specimen was repaired or not on eBay (unless the seller responsibly states this), and sometimes will only notice after the purchase. In general, I always suggest providing repair details on the mineral label, so that this information gets passed on to future generations.
The bottom line is that eBay can be a great source for minerals and bargains, but you have to know your territory well. With experience, you will get to learn who the well-established eBay sellers are and will learn to trust them. You will also be able to detect the fakers that are out there, and know when to be cautious. And just like the rule that applies everywhere else, if you see something that looks too good to be true, it probably is.