Meteorites Are Not Worth ($) As Much As Most People Think

If you find a meteorite, it is not worth as much as you think or hope

Answers to questions I am commonly asked

  • No, I will not buy your rock. From you photos, the rock does not look like meteorite to me. If I want an old rock, I will go find my own. I am not going to buy yours.
  • Even if it is a meteorite, I am not going to buy it. I am a poor, retired scientist. I do not have money to buy meteorites.
  • No, I am not going to help you sell it. Not my job. It is your rock. You can do whatever you want with it.
  • No, I do not know the $ value of your rock. Contact a meteorite dealer, not a poor retired scientist. There are many meteorite dealers on the internet. Most, however, will not respond to you because (1) your rock does not look like a meteorite or (2) it looks like an ordinary chondrite and ordinary chondrites, especially those from hot deserts, are not worth much money.

I am not a meteorite dealer, but I have noticed a few things things about meteorite prices

  • Supply and Demand – Samples of small hard-to-get meteorites sell for higher prices than sample of large meteorites, even of the same meteorite type.
  • Type of meteorite – Rare meteorite types (martian, lunar, some other achondrites) have higher per-gram prices than, say, ordinary chondrites and most irons.
  • Ordinary chondrites found in hot deserts are not worth as much as those found in North America or Europe.
  • Timing – Fresh falls, even of a common type of meteorite, are worth more than finds of the same type of meteorite. For recent falls, the price drops with time, e.g., Chelyabinsk.
  • What Got Hit – For falls, if the meteorite has a “good story,” like it went through a roof or hit a mailbox, then it is “worth more” than one found lying in the corn field.  
  • Attractiveness – Some meteorites, e.g., Sikhote-Alin, are prettier than others, and they sell for higher prices.
  • Preparation – Some sellers go to considerable time and expense to provide nicely cut and polished slices and endcuts. A meteorite out of the ground needs a lot of work before it will obtain a high price. Most finders do not have the expertise to do the preparation or, worse, they do some horrible preparation, sometimes involving acid or a wire brush, that diminishes the value to collectors.
  • Classification – A meteorite that has been classified and has a name is worth more than one without, somewhat like “a dog with papers.” It costs money to do the analyses necessary to classify a meteorite. Most people qualified to classify meteorites will not even respond to requests from people who are not meteorite experts. They mainly respond only to experienced dealers who have established a reputation for recognizing meteorites from meteorwrongs and not wasting the classifier’s time.
  • Documentation and Provenance – Every year people send me photos of meteorites that were in the collection of a deceased relative. Many such meteorites are not accompanied by a card or bill-of-sale identifying the meteorite. These meteorites are not worth much to collectors. 
  • If you actually find or have a real meteorite, sell it to a dealer. If they offer you $500 cash, haggle a bit and take the offer. They will do all the work.