How are Fossil Shark Teeth Priced?
This question is probably one of the most frequent asked questions we get from either new collectors or from people that are just curious. When pricing megalodon teeth or any fossil shark tooth, it all comes down to location, color, quality and size. There are other factors involved as well, for example, does the tooth have any repair or restoration? Is it a pathological tooth or a hubbell? We will get more in depth with this further down the page, but first, let's see how to properly measure a fossil shark tooth.
Properly Measuring a Fossil Shark Tooth
To properly measure a fossil shark tooth, you start from the very tip of the tooth and measure diagonally to the left or right root lobe, whichever is longer. A tooth is NOT measured from the tip directly vertical. As shown in the picture, notice the two diagonal lengths.
Location is one of the biggest factors when pricing a shark tooth. Some locations may produce more shark teeth than others. Some locations may also be closed to collecting, meaning there will be no more fresh teeth coming out of that specific location. A great example of this is Aurora, North Carolina. There is a phosphate mine there named Lee Creek which is now closed to collecting.
Each location may also produce more of a specific tooth. Over in Morocco, H. mako & C. megalodon teeth are considered rare. While the same teeth are more abundant in the Carolina’s & Georgia.
To some collectors, color is everything. Color plays an important role when it comes to pricing a shark tooth. Certain locations can produce a variety of colors, some being more common than others. Each tooth in the picture on the left is from Bone Valley, Florida. Even though they are all from the same location, each tooth is priced different because of their color. The classic blue enamel and white root is common, while something like the orange tooth is quite rare.
Does it have sharp serrations with an intact tip? This picture shows what a tooth looks like with sharp serrations and a distinct tip, compared to a tooth that does not.
Does it have any root damage? This picture is an excellent comparison of a tooth with significant root damage, and a tooth that has a nearly perfect root with no cracks or damage.
Does it have enamel peel? or any kind of enamel damage? Enamel peel is another big factor when looking at the quality of a tooth. You can see in the picture that the two teeth on the top have some enamel peel, while the tooth on the bottom has none.
Is the bourlette perfect? What is a bourlette? The bourlette shown in the example picture is the black section between the root and enamel. Most of the time, a fully intact bourlette can make a tooth much more eye appealing than one that is worn down or chipped. As you can see from the picture, this tooth has a full and beautiful bourlette.
Size plays a pretty big role when it comes to pricing any kind of shark tooth. The bigger they get, the rarer they become. When it comes to megalodon teeth, the average size and the most common size found seems to be ranging around 5 inches or less. Anything above 5 inches starts to get rare and pricey. Especially when the overall condition is pristine. This size tooth isn't extremely rare, but they aren't common either. When approaching into the 6 inch range, that's when things start to get really rare, and if you're hoping to get your hands on a 7 inch tooth, I wish you luck... only a handful have ever been found.
Repair vs. Restoration
Repaired teeth and restored teeth are two different things and both can have an effect on the price of a tooth.
- Repair - Repaired teeth are often have pieces that were broken off and glued back into place. The tooth on the left in the picture was split in half and glued back together.
- Restoration - Teeth that are restored often have more work put into them and often have parts reconstructed to make them look nice again. The tooth on the right had its tip broken off, Some enamel peel on the display side, along with a big crack going around the left root lobe. As you can see, it doesn't even look like it was broken in the first place.
We go more in depth on repair in restoration work in another blog article here.
Pathological (deformed) teeth are quite rare. These teeth are often priced depending on their deformity, size, and condition. The deformities can range anywhere from a tooth having multiple tips, shrunken roots, curved tips, and much more. Are they worth more than regular teeth?
It really depends on the personal interest of the collector. Some collectors love pathological teeth while others don’t.
Teeth with Pyrite
Pyrite (fools gold) is a mineral that can be found attached to fossil sharks teeth. The amount of pyrite on a tooth can vary from being a very small amount on the bourlette, root, or enamel, to heavier deposits. The amount of pyrite and general condition of the tooth is usually the deciding factor on the overall price of the specimen. Since these teeth are relatively scarce, the price is usually more than your average tooth. Below are some examples of pyrite teeth ranging from a small amount of pyrite, to a generous volume.
The pyrite on this tooth appears to be "bleeding" from the enamel.
This tooth has a small clump of pyrite between the root and the enamel. The contrast between the jet black tooth and the pyrite is pretty cool.
This tooth is absolutely loaded with pyrite. The pyrite on this tooth is located all over the bourlette and in the cracks on the enamel. An absolutely stunning example of a tooth with a heavy concentration of pyrite.
The bourlette on this tooth is absolutely loaded with pyrite. Even the missing flakes in the bourlette have been filled with pyrite! You can also see that the cracks on the display side going down to the tip are filled in with this golden pyrite. Absolutely one of the best pyrite teeth I have ever seen.