Christie's London has organized a sale event of 83 meteorites on April 20. The auction house's meteorite collection consists of sample meteorites from various public and private collections. Some items are expected to go up to over a million dollars.
If you factor in the scarcity and how very rare the available stocks are replenished, pricing celestial rocks can be quite difficult and interesting. Meteorites are priced based on the four S's, namely science, story, shape and size, explained Christie's London specialist James Hyslop.
Meteorites that fall into the planet typically tumble quite chaotically. But during rare instances when a meteorite falls straight down into Earth, the surface heats up and then melts, creating a heat shield that contains a perfect parabola.
"Some of the most sought-after ones are the pallasite slices and spheres that have peridot," added Hyslop who referred to the meteorites with greenish gemstones.
Hyslop added that lunar meteorites, which are actual pieces of the moon, are also quite popular. These lunar pieces were blown from the moon's face by a larger meteorite. The pieces floated around in space for millions of years until they collided with our planet.
Unlike diamonds, it's not about the shapes. While bigger meteorites are essentially more expensive, parabola-shaped space rocks fetch more money.
The auction of 83 space rocks is expected to range between $355 for the Toulon meteorite and over $1.1 million for the Brenham Meteorite Main Mass, which is the world's biggest "oriented" meteorite. This rare piece has that sough-after parabola shape and comes with embedded celestial gemstones.
Another interesting piece in the collection includes the Valera Meteorite, which experts believe killed a cow. This makes the meteorite the only space rock that allegedly killed a mammal on Earth. On October 15, 1972, Venezuelan farmhands in Trujillo heard a "sonic boom" and the next day found the meteorite next to a cow's carcass.
According to Christie's description of the meteorite on sale, the farmhands enjoyed a nice steak dinner afterwards. For years, the farmers used the celestial rock as a doorstop before it was confirmed a meteorite over 10 years later.