Cylus Hill, founder of Primordial Goop Gems and Minerals based in Farmington, holds two large amethysts mined in Veracruz, Mexico. Hill said he believes crystals are “the earth … the universe peacocking at you” and the favorite kinds to sell and collect are anything weird and with a good story. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — A student at the University of Maine at Farmington has a rich crystals collection and a burgeoning business of mineral dealing afoot.

Cylus Hill, 22, is studying creative writing and anthropology at UMF.

But Hill’s interest really lies with the “joyful,” “mind-boggling,” “fascinating nature of crystals.”

Hill remembers first coming across minerals and crystals as a child: gifted quartz and amethyst stones from Hill’s mother and an exciting tourmaline discovery in New Hampshire while mining with family on a trip, among other “foggy” memories.

But Hill still felt a bit lukewarm. At around 17 or 18 years old, Hill’s interest began to grow.

Hill began exploring eastern religions, and worked at Sensi Side in downtown Farmington. Sensi Side is a store with an ample collection of crystals for sale. There, a co-worker gave Hill a book about crystals.


“From there, I just started learning via experience,” Hill said. “I’d go in [to Sensi Side] and I’d play with the rocks every day; I’d find new things to point out to people about them that make each piece unique.”

Hill remembers the first “big buy” as a celestite, a “beautiful geode with a matrix made out of clay (and) really robust, large, light blue, gemmy crystals.”

“That hooked me,” Hill said.

Some of Hill’s favorite kinds of crystals include smithsonite, fluorite, and the “many variations” of quartz.

After learning more and more about crystals and minerals, Hill decided to put the knowledge to use.

Hill decided to sell minerals, in large part from a personal collection, in late 2020, in part due to financial struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic.


With the help of the mineral community, which had turned virtual due to the pandemic, found in Facebook groups like “Rockaholics,” Hill realized the opportunity to make a living from crystals.

The biggest sale Hill can recall, one of the first, was for a garnet. It was a favorite and one of the biggest pieces in the collection.

It was sad to say goodbye to the garnet, but Hill was “elated” to be able to make a living this way.

The business ebbed and flowed — some successful months, some focused on school, playing in a band and other jobs. In October 2021, Hill began dedicating more energy to mineral dealing.

After investing everything into the business, Primordial Goop Gems and Minerals, Hill has been able to self-sustain in a way that is satisfying.

“One of my favorite things is when I get a giant box of rocks in the mail … that’s one of the more self-serving satisfactions,” Hill said. “It’s like ‘oooh, Shiny!’ Opening 50 wadded up rolls of toilet paper that contain precious gems in them is pretty cool … it makes me happy. It’s inherently joyful.”


That joy comes from what Hill describes as the “fascinating nature of crystals, on a chemical and geological level.”

Hill is moved by the interconnectedness, influence of animals and people on crystals.

“I think it’s absolutely mind-boggling how much you can see into the nature of being and existing through a crystal. Geology is how we understand (the nature of) Earth,” Hill said.

“I also personally believe crystals are the perfect representation of a high point of energy … they’re all alive,” Hill added. “You can hold (a crystal) in your hand and tell me how you can’t get closer to the divine than that?”

Another satisfaction Hill gets out of this work is the community that’s been built.

A lot of that community intersects with the community of Grateful Dead fans, also known as “Deadheads.”


“That’s one of my favorite aspects is how many people I grew up with are in this business and how many people I know that know each other,” Hill, who grew up in musical communities, said.

There’s a lot of “passing of knowledge,” Hill added.

That’s not to say the mineral and crystals community doesn’t come with its complications.

There are scammers out there inflating prices, manipulating and creating false value, Hill said.

There’s also a complicated ethical history with the mining and sale of crystals, gems and stones.

“Minerals have a really, really significant history of violating ethics … destroying the lives of people,” Hill said.


An investigation from the New Republic found sources of crystals sold on popular websites “were mined in countries with notoriously lax labor and environmental regulations, and some came from large-scale U.S. mines that have contaminated ecosystems and drinking water” and “large-scale industrial mines owned by companies with poor environmental records and a history of labor violations.”

Verité’ documents “workers, including children, frequently work in extremely hazardous conditions without supervision, or safety gear” in gemstone mining and production across the world; they are vulnerable to injuries and prolonged health issues due to mining conditions. Others are trafficked or unpaid while mining.

“I prefer my minerals to uplift communities,” Hill said.

Hill said there are multiple workarounds to engaging with minerals ethically.

Hill tends to buy old collections of crystals — as though Hill runs a “crystal thrift shop,” if you will. Hill also buys from sellers that work directly with miners, rather than large companies.

Hill wholly recommends those in the market for some crystals “do your research.”


“You can so easily just buy rocks because it was shiny and not really know anything about where they come from,” Hill said. “A lot of (sellers) don’t provide that information (on sourcing),” Hill said. “It’s really important to ask the questions, to make sure you’re not buying them blindly.”

Those questions include ‘where did it come from,’ ‘when did it come out of the ground,’ ‘what are the specifics of the locality,’ etc. Hill said.

Hill recommends those interested in learning more about crystals and where to find ethical sources go to and

Ultimately, Hill’s favorite kinds of crystals are “anything weird and strange and fibrous and fragile.”

And any crystal with a “good story.”

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