Beryl: A Lesser Known Gemstone

Albite-Beryl-weillaqua2
Albite-Beryl-weillaqua2
The beryl family of mineral has bestowed us with many gemstones. Some of them, such as emeralds and aquamarine, are widely known and sought-after. However, some lesser-known beryl stones are also mined throughout the world. Among them, the most striking is goshenite. This stone is usually found as a white and colorless specimen in nature. According to some mineralogists, goshenite is the most abundant beryl in nature. Chemically, it is the purest beryl stone.

However, the abundance of this mineral doesn’t mean that the each and every excavated specimen of the stone is worthy of being faceted into a gem. Jewelers usually prefer to facet only those goshenites into ornamental stones that are transparent and free of every impurity. It is important to mention that the goshenite is also considered the mother of crystals because of its pure existence in nature. The naturally occurring specimens of this crstal contains nearly no chemical impurities.

Goshenite is a Modern Gemstone

Unlike many gemstones that have been in human use for centuries, goshenite is comparatively a modern gemstone. People only came to know about this variant when it was discovered from a small mine in Massachusetts as slightly white and opaque during the 19th century. Soon after that, miners started to look for this gem in other geographical locations. Now, it is found in nearly every part of the world. However, the most notable goshenite mines are in South America and the gem-grade goshenite is mostly mined from Brazil.

The Name of the Stone

Since this mineral is a modern gemstone, no Greek or Latin etymologies are attributed to its name. The gemstone is named after the locality where it was first found. Goshen, a small town in Hampshire County, Massachusetts had a small area from where the first goshenite specimen was mined.

Goshenite and Similar Gemstones

Beryl-ed11dBecause of its transparent and whitish appearance, goshenite resembles many other minerals. For instance, it will be difficult to distinguish for a non-expert if a specimen is placed among white zircon, white sapphire, or white quartz.

Goshenite and Diamond

Some really fine and transparent pieces of this gemstone can also give the impression of a diamond. However, such specimens are really hard to find. Moreover,  this rare mineral can be distinguished from diamonds by analyzing one definitive gem characteristic called fire

Fire is a geological term for dispersion. It entails the ability of a gemstone to break down the light into a spectrum when exposed to a light source. The dispersion or firing capability of a diamond is second to none. One can easily tell diamond and goshenite specimens apart by observing them from different angles in an illuminated space. The diamond specimen would produce quick flashes on the exposure of light. On the other hand, goshenite stones can’t produce the same flickers in a similar setting.

One can also tell goshenite from diamonds specimens by conducting a hardness test. Goshenites are way softer than diamonds. Therefore, they can easily get scratched. Nevertheless, it can be used as an inexpensive alternative to diamonds in jewelry items. Many jewelers offer goshenite-laden necklaces, rings, and pendants. Amid all its use as an ornamental article, the greater demand for this gemstone is attributed to stone collectors.

Goshenite and Metaphysics

Two Hands Together
Hand Healing Energy 

The metaphysical uses of minerals have been discussed several times in this section. There are many people who strongly believe in this branch of philosophy and subsequently use several everyday items in accordance with the principles of metaphysics. Like any other naturally occurring stone, there are many metaphysical uses of goshenite. It will be fitting to discuss some of them in this article.

Healing Energies of Goshenite

People who believe in healing energies of gemstones call goshenite as a crystal of the moon. All those stones associated with moons are believed to improve the balance of hormones and bodily fluids. Therefore, the stone is used by some to treat mood disorders stemming from postnatal depression, PMS and bipolar disorder.

Goshenite and Chakra Therapy

Chakra therapies are based on the ancient Sanskrit dogma that our physical and spiritual being is governed by seven wheels (chakras) of energy located at different positions on the body. Different gemstones are believed to activate these chakras to benefit the treated individual.

Goshenite is known to activate the Crown Chakra that is located at the top of the head. This chakra is believed to expand our understanding of the world beyond the existing reality. It is also known to provide a gateway to our beliefs, universal energy and truth. In short, the use of goshenite in Chakra therapies entails a peace of mind while providing more clarity regarding the surrounding universe. During Chakra therapies, goshenites are used with other stones to enhance their healing properties. In addition, it can also be used on any of the seven Chakras to clear and revitalize the given body area.

Goshenite as a Zodiac Stone

Like any other beryl stone, goshenite is considered a Zodiac stone for Taurus. However, it is deemed suitable for Cancerians as well. Due to its association with the moon, it is known for clamping down the predisposition of impulsively charging ahead.

Goshenite and Feng Shui

Feng shui (Chinese characters)
Chinese Lettering for Feng_Shui
Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese practice of controlling the energies of the surroundings to create an optimal living environment. Mineral stones play an important role in controlling and managing the energies of a Feng Shui environment.

For instance, goshenite is associated with metal energy. This Feng Shui energy can be optimally harnessed in the west and northwestern portion of a residence or room. Metal elements, as described by Feng Shui, school of thought, fetch the attributes of determination and concentration in our lives and residential settings.

Feng Shui experts recommend the use of goshenite in the residential spaces used for any work of concentration or group tasks. It is believed that the presence of this stone in its surrounding helps in solidifying the determination and the efforts being made in a particular space.

Eight Crystals that Can Help to Calm Your Mind and Improve Your Mood

Healing Crystal
Photo by tipota – yayimages.com

Crystals have been used as a mode of healing for centuries. Focusing on energies, crystals can help to dispel negativity, improve your mood, calm your mind and even bring prosperity into your life. In fact, many minerals are naturally found in the form of crystals so using them as is can give you more benefits.

Keep in mind that crystals are not a substitute for medical advice. However, they are used by people who believe that these minerals provide some sort of pain relief and improve their mind and mood. Many people also believe that some minerals also have different energies attached to them.

Following are some of the more popular ones that people use for mind and mood:

Amethyst

Amethyst. Magaliesburg, South Africa
Amethyst. Magaliesburg Crystal
Also called the “All Purpose Stone,” the Amethyst is a beautiful, purple crystal that soothes the mind, relieves anxiety and reduces stress. It is available in various shades of purple, ranging from light lavender to a deep plum purple. The stone is said to connect with the Third Eye Chakra (Ajna) and the Crown Chakra (Sahasrara) in the body.

It is said that wearing amethyst can help to improve your immune system, help with insomnia and alleviate stress. It is also a great stone that brings more clarity to your mind when your thoughts are confused or foggy. For meditative use, the amethyst crystal is the best as it can help to bring contentment, peace and help one recover from grief and loss. 

Amethyst is popular when worn as jewelry. It comes in many sizes and shapes and this beautiful stone may inspire you to go to the jewelry store and purchase a nice Amethyst necklace. Even if you don’t believe in its powers, it’s a lot cheaper than diamonds!

Black Tourmaline

Black Tourmaline Crystal
Black Tourmaline Crystal
One of the strongest healing stones, black tourmaline is thought to absorb negative energies and offer spiritual protection. Negative energy refers to the vibes you promote when you appear to be down because you are looking at a situation with a negative (pessimistic) attitude.

Black tourmaline is said to eliminate these negative vibrations, but it may also minimize the effect of electromagnetic fields or frequencies that are emitted from the gadgets and electronic objects in your home. If you are one of those concerned about the negative effects of cell phone waves in the air, perhaps acquiring this stone may make you feel better, even if it is just from a placebo perspective.

This mineral also helps aid in proper sleep. It is said to reduce stress and promote a calmer mind. Black tourmaline can be worn to keep your anxiety at bay and to help you feel more grounded. The crystal is also said to offer an aura of protection that keeps you feeling spiritually healthy and positive.

Rose Quartz

Rose Quartz Healing Gemstone
Rose Quartz Healing Gemstone

A pink colored stone, rose quartz is connected with love, harmony, and emotional stability. The crystal holds a reputation for being the best for soothing your heart and helping relationships blossom in a healthy manner. People claim that it is great for calming, dealing with emotional trouble or trauma and even past issues.

Wearing or holding it can bring emotional relief and keeping it in your home will fill it with harmony and love. Rose quartz is also said to help with emotional blockage, healing from emotional abuse as well as develop better relationships and friendships. There are reports that it can release anger, jealousy, and resentment of others, so if you are in a bad relationship right now, how about obtaining a rose quartz mineral and see what happens? It will also look great on your mantelpiece. 

Citrine

Citrine Crystal
Citrine Crystal

A yellow colored stone, Citrine is the crystal of prosperity and plenty in all areas of life. Also known as the “Merchant Stone,” using or wearing citrine regularly can also improve your financial areas in life by removing blockages. It is also said to attract new and better opportunities in the professional life of a person.

Citrine is a crystal that makes one feel more creative, mentally invigorated and feel happier about life again. It is also said to improve focus and concentration, boosts energy and reduces stress associated with your personal and professional life. Wearing it or keeping it at your workplace can also improve the atmosphere around you.

Jade

With a deep green hue, jade can be great for calming your emotional energy and releases negativity. The stone symbolizes tranquility, purity and brings about more harmony to the person. Jade is said to be linked with the heart chakra and those who believe say it also enhances relationships and attracts more love into a person’s lives.

Jade is popular in jewelry and tends to be available in a range of different green hues, including emerald green or apple green with hints of yellow, red, brown and lavender or blue in it too. In rare instances, you can also find a white jade stone but the color does not always impact the healing powers of the stones.

Turquoise

Turquoise-216415A gorgeous vibrant blue stone and rare in most parts of the world, turquoise has been highly prized by different cultures, including the Ancient Egyptians, Native Americans, North and South Americans, and others. Apart from its distinctive blue colors, turquoise is said to make one happier and more outgoing.

Social anxiety can be reduced with the stone as it not only makes you more confident, it also influences other people around you. The shades of turquoise can range from an eye-catching aqua blue hue to a demure cerulean green tone.

This is probably a great stone to take with you when you go on a job interview, but don’t tell the interviewer you have on. He/She might not understand, unless they have read this article (smile) and with it said that it can manage social anxiety, those who routinely post on social networks should have one next to their computer or mobile device. Who knows? Maybe the social media world would become a little more friendlier! 

Moonstone

Considered to be a personal stone with a feminine energy, the moonstone is a crystal which brings happiness, abundance, and improved relationships into one’s life. The stone is said to protect from negativity and can calm the mind with ease. It also relieves stress and anxiety.

Moonstone is also great for meditation as they say it makes the mind calmer, brings a better understanding of self and boosts your mental health. It is also a great stone for someone who is very sensitive to energies and can feel drained and depleted in social interactions with other people.

Blue Topaz

Natural blue topaz gemstone
Blue topaz in a gemstone setting
Known as the “Writer’s stone,” blue topaz is used as a crystal for clarity in thought and speech. The crystal is said to bring good fortune, joy, and abundance. As a stone that is used to improve communication, blue topaz is said to help with writer’s block and can even help one overcome anxiety related to public speaking.

The blue topaz is also said to have a soothing effect on the mind, reducing stress, eliminating anxiety and bringing more clarity to your thoughts. With better communication methods, you will ultimately be able to enjoy better relationships in all areas of your life.

The crystals mentioned here are all available in raw form or can be shaped to be worn as jewelry pieces, They no doubt will look pretty to wear, but even though many people may swear by their healing powers, there is not much scientific evidence to support these claims. If you have a desire to use them, always remember that these crystals are not a substitute for therapy or prescribed medication

Labradorite: A Feldspar with a Distinctive Optical Characteristic

Labradorite belongs to a large group of silicate minerals, believed to make up more than half of the Earth’s crust, known by the name of feldspar. Labradorites are usually found in the igneous rock formations all around the world. Before discussing the wonderful optical characteristics associated with this stone, let’s delve into some of the details about its geographical occurrence.

Presence of Labradorite in the Nature

Labradorite can be found in different unique geographical settings. They are mostly formed through the process of metamorphism in which igneous rock of norite and basalt transforms into foliated rock formations. But they can also be found in sedimentary rock specimens that break away from the geological formations containing labradorites due to extreme environmental conditions.

Labradorescence:  Exhibition of Schiller Effect From This Feldspar Specimen

Some of the labradorite specimens have the inherent ability to exhibit rare optical phenomenon of adularescence which is commonly known as Schiller effect. In this optical exhibition, stones glow with a sheen which is coming from the inside of the stone instead of its surface. Opal, agate and moonstone are the widely known gemstone or ornamental specimens which possess the property of adularescence.

However, this same phenomenon becomes very different altogether, and in a good sense, when it is observed in some of the labradorite stones. Because few specimens are so good with the Schiller effect that they simultaneously exhibit multiple colors from the inner layers of their structure. Due to this distinctive and strong demonstration of adularescence, this phenomenon has got its own name as “labradorescence”.

How Labradorescence occur?

We have already known that how adularescence works. Labradorescence also plays in the same way where light reflects back from the internal surfaces instead of the exterior of the stone but here more than one type of wavelengths are reflected back by the internal twinning layers of the stone which are seen in the form of different colors ( blue, orange, red, green) by the observers. Labradorites possess adularescence or labradorescence are considered gem-grade feldspar.

Famous Labradorite Mining Locations

There are geographical locations all around the world which are famous for the deposits of labradorite.

Labrador, Canada: Birthplace of Labradorite

These unique feldspar stones were discovered in the 17th century on the Isle of Paul, Labrador, Canada and hence named after the place which is a province of present day Canada.

Gray and Black Labradorite: Russia and Madagascar

Gray and black labradorites which exhibit fine labradorescence can be found in Russia and Madagascar. It is interesting to note that both of the countries are more than 6000 miles apart but still host the same variants of labradorites.

Spectacular Deposits in Finland

Labradorites with an exceptional exhibition of labradorescence are mined from rare deposits of feldspar in Finland. They even named by the local administration “spectrolite” because of their spectacular display of rare optical characteristics.  

Oregon Sunstone: A National Labradorite Deposit

Labradorites are also mined in the US. However, they don’t possess the characteristics of labradorescence. Feldspar mines in the state of Oregon produces these stones different hues with a more transparent crystalline structure.

Labradorites mined in these sites are branded with the name of ‘Oregon sunstone’ and there is a reason to that. Many of the stone specimens found in this area contain metallic inclusions in the form of copper impurities. Due to this, these labradorites get the property of flashing with aventurescence in the presence of light. This specific property of Oregon labradorites compensates the absence of labradorescence. It is in great demand due to its popularity among local jewelry dealers and tourists.   

Labradorite: As a Gemstone and Décor Material

Labradorites with strong exhibition of Schiller effect are usually cut into gem-grade sizes of stones. They have a Mohs Hardness of around 6, making them more suitable for jewelry items that are less exposed to abrasion. To cherish the labradorescence of the stones, they are cut into cabochons. These cabochons are cut in a way where their base is corresponding to the inner twinning layers producing adularescence flashes.

Some large specimens of the stone can be cut into slabs which then can be employed in the making of small sculptures and other decor articles.

How to Distinguish Real Emeralds and Ambers from the Fake Ones

Gemstones are beautiful and precious and have been used in the fields of astrology, medicine and fashion for thousands of years. With time and technological innovations, fake or synthetic gemstones have also made their way into the gem market. If you are spending significant money on buying gems, make sure that you are getting the ones that are real, as the chances of getting conned are very real as well.

In this article, we discuss some of the techniques and methods that you can use at home to distinguish between real and fake emeralds and ambers. As the commercial says “The more you know…”.

How to identify a fake emerald

These green beauties are one of the most prized and beautiful gemstones out there. They can be used as ornaments in any style of jewelry, be it a bracelet, necklace or earrings. Emeralds are relatively harder than other gemstones, but real emeralds are not as hard as synthetic ones. Natural emeralds contain internal imperfections, which make them easier to break, compared to synthetic ones that are manmade and free of imperfections.

What are fake emeralds?

Fake emeralds are usually categorized into two categories

‘Natural’ fake emeralds: Since emeralds belong to the beryl family that is green, natural gemstones of the same color shade are often also sold off as emeralds. Peridot, olivine and green garnet are usually sold in the name of emeralds.

Synthetic emeralds: Synthetic emeralds that are created in the lab possess the same internal crystal lattice as natural emeralds, so in theory, they are not fakes. If you are going to buy a synthetic emerald then make sure that it is priced less than the natural ones.

A simple way to tell whether a stone is synthetic or natural is to observe its surface texture. Synthetic emeralds appear cleaner than natural emeralds since they don’t possess any natural impurity.

Some other techniques which can help you find out the genuineness of an emerald:

Check hues and reflection

A natural emerald usually doesn’t possess non-green hues. The secondary undertone of any color other than green indicates that the emerald is a fake. Another way to check is to expose it to light. If the stone exhibits colorful reflections, it is probably bogus. Real emeralds don’t reflect strong flashes.

Clarity can tell the authenticity of an emerald

Remember a general rule, the clearer the stone looks, the greater the chances that it is fake. You can use a normal magnifying glass to check the clarity of the stone. In natural emeralds, you will observe bubbles and crystal formations inside the stone, while synthetic ones don’t possess such imperfections.

How to identify fake Ambers?

Falling in the color range between gold and orange, this gem made of a fossilized tree resin has been appreciated by human beings since the Stone Age. It is imperative to know the difference between real and fake ambers because real ambers are used for different purposes.

  • They are used as decorative objects and in jewelry
  • Since they are a tree resin, real ambers are also used as ingredients in perfumes and scents
  • Many people use amber for its range of healing properties

Buoyancy test

If you want to test the beads of amber for their originality, then you can conduct a salt solution test. Put the amber stones in a supersaturated salt solution. Real ambers will not sink, while the fake ones will touch the bottom.

Scratch Test

Remember that not all ambers are same in their price. Ambers that are used for health benefits are cheaper than the ones that are used in jewelry. Only inexpensive amber can be subjected to this test. Just scratch the surface of the amber with any metallic object using soft hands. Fake ambers (usually made of glass) won’t get any scratches on their surfaces.

Electrostatic test

There is another tree resin by the name of copal, which is also sold as amber because its surface texture is almost identical to real amber. To know whether you are holding amber or a copal, you can simply perform an electrostatic test on the stone to find its authenticity.

When rubbed continuously for a minute, real amber produces an electrostatic field around it. You can test this using a tiny piece of paper or a strand of hair. If paper pieces or hair strands stick to the stone, it means that there is an electrostatic field presentand that the stone is real.

Enigma of Diamonds: Expensive Yet Always in Demand

Fine Cut DiamondThey are the manifestation of glitz.  Some refer to them as the tears of the gods and some consider them stardust. No matter how you identify with them, diamonds have captured the imagination of mankind since the very beginning. And the real wonder is that even after all these years, human beings are still dazzled and mesmerized by the enigmatic beauty of these precious stones.

In this article, we will find out what factors make this beloved gem so expensive and how it has been part of the human history for so long, so let’s begin with some relatively less known facts about diamonds.

Not all diamonds are expensive

Very few people are aware of the fact that not all types of diamonds are as expensive as we are taught to believe. Diamonds don’t come out of mines in the shape and texture we are used to seeing in ornaments and jewelry items. In fact, most of the natural diamonds never make it to that beautiful refined state because they come with too many imperfections and defects and consequently, such diamonds are only really suitable for industrial use.

Since the majority of mined diamonds can’t be used in jewelry, we are left with very few grades of diamond that have such quality, the expensive ones that can be used for decorative purposes.

It’s the simple imbalance of supply and demand makes this stone expensive. But that’s not all. There are other characteristics which add to the cost of diamonds.

Color of the Stone

The diamond’s color is one major factor in determining its price. Most of the naturally occurring diamonds contain a noticeable tinge of a yellowish hue. In fact, it is hard to find a stone that is completely colorless; thus, the more colorless a diamond is, the rarer and more valuable it is.  Although they may be colorless, the diamonds will appear whiter and brighter to the eye. Therefore these diamonds automatically become more expensive.

When traces of the yellowish hue drop, the demand and price of the diamond increases exponentially. This is more noticeable for diamonds that have other color traces like pink and blue in them. These color traces come from the natural impurities that are present in the internal chemical structure of the stone but are valued highly by diamond lovers.

Clarity of the stone

It is very rare that an original diamond comes without any internal spots and lines within the stone. Now, you can easily deduce how difficult it is to find the stone that has the color shade of your choice and comes with the clarity you want. Once again, demand and supply sets the price of the stone.

Size of the stone

The weight and size of the diamond also affect its price. Diamonds that are larger in size are hard to find naturally and consequently come with an expensive price tag.

Cut of the stone

As we all know, mined diamonds can’t be fitted directly onto jewelry. They have to be polished and cut into a shape that can give optimal balance between size, clarity and color. Getting the perfect cut is a tricky prospect.

There is a tremendous balancing act involved in which the cut has to be made to enhance clarity without reducing the weight of the stone. There is always the chance that the weight and size of a diamond may be compromised while removing some visible imperfections from it.

As a result, a diamond with balanced aspects of clarity, size and shape are hard to find and expensive to buy.

Have diamonds always been so popular and in demand?

Diamonds have not come to the forefront from the renaissance, agricultural or industrial revolution. They have been important since ancient times when the Greeks ruled the world. Even the name ‘diamond’ is said to be derived from the Greek word ‘adamas’, meaning indestructible, because the Greeks associated the radiant and ever-glowing glitter of the diamond to be an indestructible sign of love.

Generally, throughout the course of history and various civilizations, diamonds have always been considered as the sign of supreme power. Many cultural dogmas considered diamonds to contain magical powers that can be used to cure madness and repel evil spirits. Plato, the famous Greek philosopher shared the thought that diamonds were living spirits. Diamond powder, due to its curing abilities, had also been used in medicines.

There are a lot more historical anecdotes that can be mentioned to highlight the fact that the diamond has always been popular. It’s this popularity that makes it so expensive.

 

Six Metals that are Rarer than Gold

Rare Metals on DisplayThere are six metals in nature that are rarer than gold and possess their own unique properties. In this article, we will shed some light on these relatively unknown elements and their uses.

Ruthenium

In the 1840s, Russian chemist, Karl Ernst Claus, provided evidence for the existence of new element in platinum ore. This new element was then named after the ancient name of Russia, Ruthenia.

Ruthenium has a silver-like sheen. It is a hard metal with a melting point between 2300 to 2450 degrees Celsius and boiling point that ranges between 3900 to 4150 degrees Celsius. Ruthenium is a relatively non-reactive metal. It doesn’t dissolve in most acids, and reacts only with those metals that have similar chemical properties. At room temperature, it doesn’t react to air, but higher temperatures can make it reactive to oxygen.

In nature, it is mostly found in platinum ores. Ruthenium is also obtained as a byproduct of  nickel refining. This platinum metal is so rare that its abundance is only 0.0004 parts per million in  nature.

Uses

Ruthenium is used in the production of different alloys due to its hardness and inertness to oxygen. Electrical contacts used to measure extreme temperatures usually contain ruthenium alloys.

Palladium

It resembles ruthenium in appearance, but has vastly different physical and chemical properties For instance, unlike ruthenium, it dissolves in aqua regia. Like other platinum group elements, palladium is mostly found in copper and nickel ore, however, small deposits of uncombined platinum have been found in Brazil. Palladium is 15 times rarer than platinum, and is considered to be highly toxic and carcinogenic.  

Uses

It is used in the making of an alloy — white gold — which is extensively used in jewelry making. Nowadays, palladium is being used in many electrical appliances as the component material of multi-layer ceramic capacitors.

Rhenium

Rhenium was discovered by a German team in the 1920s. It was the last discovered naturally occurring element. Chile, The United Kingdom, and Germany are major exporters of this rare metal. Rhenium is usually extracted from molybdenites and columbite ores.

Uses

Rhenium is used to make superalloys that are used to make parts of jet engines and gas turbine engines. They are also used in the making of temperature controlling devices and heating elements.

Rhenium is also used as a catalyst to fracture the natural petroleum extracts into more useful products like gasoline, diesel.

Iridium

Iridium is another rare earth metal with a high density and a melting point. Its reactive tendencies are similar to that of gold. Iridium is also extracted during the process of nickel refining. Like other platinum family group members, it is very rare and used for very specific purposes.

Uses

Alloys made of iridium are used to make bearings used in compasses. Due to its high density and melting point, it is also used to make standard meter bars. It is also used as an electric contact in spark plugs due to its inertness and high melting point.

Rhodium

Rhodium is another rare metal from the same family of rare elements. In fact, it also resembles other metals of the group. Rhodium is highly conductive and is extremely resistant to corrosion.

Uses

Rhodium is used as catalyst in the making of acetic acid, nitric acid and other hydrogenation reactions. One of the distinctive uses of rhodium is the part it plays in catalytic converters of cars. It is used to reduce the formation of nitric oxide in exhausts gases of the car.

Osmium

It is the densest of all the rare metals of the platinum family. It is a hard bluish metal with powerful properties as an oxidizing agent. It can be extracted from platinum bearing ores in North America, South America and Urals.

Uses

Due to its high density, it is used to make different instrument pivots and electrical contacts. An amorphous form of the metal can be used for staining on microscopic slides and detecting fingerprints.

The distinctive and unique uses of all these six rare metals tell us that while they belong to the same metal family, their properties go beyond the familial bond they share. Each individual metal has its own unique traits that distinguish it from the rest.

 

Rarest of the Rare: Unique Gemstones of the World

Alexandrite Mineral
Alexandrite (variety of chrysoberyl)

In all the naturally occurring substances, gemstones catch our attention the most. Due to their color, shapes, sizes and textures, gemstones are intrinsically rare and always an eyecatcher. And among all the elite and rare stone types, there are some which are considered as the rarest due to their scarcity of nature.

Let’s find out some details about these gemstones that are the rarest of the rare.

Alexandrite: Emerald by Day, Ruby by Night

Named after the Russian tsar Alexander-II, Alexandrite belongs to the family of Chrysoberyl family. It was first found in the Ural Mountain range in Russia in early 18th century. Due to some digression from Chrysoberyl minerals, it became one of the rarest gemstones on the face of the earth. Alexandrite is famous for exhibiting hues of emerald and ruby when seen in the presence of light and darkness respectively.

When it shines under different light sources, it appears with different shades of green, magenta and blue which clearly indicate that Alexandrite possesses splendid color features. The impurities of iron, titanium and chromium are supposed to be the reason why it stands alone among all the other Chrysoberyl gemstones.

Tanzanite: A Gift from Foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro 

This gemstone belongs to the family of zoisite gemstones with blue color. The rarity of this stone can be understood by the fact that the only known deposit of this stone is found in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Northern Tanzania. Therefore, this zoisite gem is even named after the country.

The bluish-purple stones are found and mined in decades, and therefore it is considered rarer than diamonds. Tanzanite also exhibits different hues under different crystal orientations and light conditions.

Red Diamonds: A Rare Tale of Romance

The combination of red color and diamond stone can be the ultimate gesture of love. Red diamonds are considered to be the fanciest and rarest diamonds. Unlike other fancy diamonds which get their color from different impurities, diamonds get red hue due to a rare bend in its atomic structure known as plastic deformation. There are very few red diamonds in the world (some estimates suggest that only 30 diamonds exist with such color formation).

Grandidierite: Madagascar’s Another Natural Offering

Grandidierites are extremely rare gemstones only found in very few places such as Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Namibia. They were first discovered in Madagascar in the early 19th century by a French mineralogist and named after Alfred Grandidier who is thought to be the first authority on the natural history of the region.

Grandidierite comes in bluish green color patterns, shades which come from the tinge of iron impurities in it. They come in orthorhombic crystal structures. The typical rare Grandidierite appears completely transparent.

Poudretteite: An Exquisite Pink Gem

Poudretteite was first discovered in Canada and named after the family which operates the quarry from which this stone was discovered. Even after more than 50 years, it can only be found in two locations in Canada and Myanmar which makes this gemstone incredibly rare.

The color of Poudretteite depends on the optical phenomenon in which different the color appears when observed at different angles. However, Poudretteite shows light pink and purple hues mostly. Manganese is the color giving element present in Poudretteite, so the color saturation depends on the amount of Manganese present in the stone’s crystal structure.

Benitoite:  A Californian Rarity

Benitoite is a rare gemstone that is extracted from the only and limited deposit near San Benito River in California. It was discovered in 1907. Benitoite comes in blue and purple shades and glows like blue chalk when put under UV light.

Due to its unavailability, Benitoite is not used as a typical gemstone in jewelry items. It is almost impossible to find in the open market and is usually part of rare gem collections.

Musgravite: Distinctive among all the Taaffeite

Musgravite is a rare oxide gemstone belonging to the family of Taaffeite gemstones. Musgravite was first discovered in the Musgrave Range of South Australia. It is very difficult to differentiate them from all the other Taaffeite stones and only an expert can do this. Musgravite exists in grey, mauve, grey purple and light olive green shades.

Opal: A Precious Stone with a World of Colors

Coobe Pedy Opal Doublet Mineral
Coober Pedy Opal Doublet Mineral

Due to its exuberant display of color, opal has often been compared with erupting volcanoes, galaxies and fireworks. A stone exhibiting such grandeur inherently appears mystic and mysterious. And we humans  are always intrigued and fascinated by such characteristics. Therefore, opal comes in an elite category of stones that have always been appreciated and revered the world over.

What is an Opal?

The opal stone is classified as mineraloid, a mineral-like substance that doesn’t possess the characteristics of crystalline structures. Opal is an amorphous form of silica which displays a mix of various colors giving it its enhanced enchantment quality. The colors are borne out of the chemical and physical conditions in which the stone is formed.

Most common opals have green and white hues, while black opals are considered to be the rarest. Let’s look into the history of opal to know how this gemstone has been perceived over time.

Historical Journey of the Opal

Opal became mainstream with its discovery in South Australia in the 18th century. However, anthropology tells us that opals were in use way before this discovery.

An opal artifact was discovered from a cave in Kenya which dates back to 4000 B.C. According to anthropologists, these artifacts were brought over from Ethiopia.

Apart from that, opal is also depicted in many ancient paintings as a part of ornaments and jewelry. In ancient Europe, Hungary was the origin of opal mining and it is believed that Spanish soldiers introduced this stone to the rest of the world in the 16th century.

Name’s Origin

The historical significance of opal can also be authenticated by the origin of the name ‘Opal’.

  • According to some references, the name opal is derived from a Sanskrit word ‘Upala’ which means ‘precious stone’.
  • Many historians associate the word opal with ancient Rome where two languages were dominant, Latin and Greek. A Latin word ‘Opalus’ means ‘precious stone’ is also thought of as the origin of the name, while the Greek word ‘Opallios’ meaning ‘to see a color change’ is also considered to be a strong contender for the origin of the word Opal.

It is quite evident that whichever origin story you want to buy, the characteristics of opal have always been linked to magnificence.

Types of Opal

Opal is categorized into different types according to its optical density and colors. There are numerous types of opals according to their appearance, however we will discuss the ones that are found commonly and are more popular among all the different types.

Fire Opal: They are mostly mined from Western Australia and contain the background color combination of yellow and red with an overall semi-transparent appearance.

Black Opal: Opals are called black due to less transparency which makes their appearance darker. Black opal exhibits beautiful play of color which makes them one of the most attractive and popular opals out there.

Boulder Opal: This type of opal is basically housed in the fractures of a stone in the form of vein like meshwork. These opals are mostly mined along with their host stone so that the opal remains in its natural state.

Common Opal: Common opals have the highest opacity and does not exhibit any play of color. However, common opals can be used in ornaments due to their lustrous appearance.

Gem Therapy with Opal

Gem therapy has been practiced in a plethora of cultures around the world. Although, not scientifically proven, anecdotal evidence  suggests that gems do have healing powers. With that said, some health benefits that might be associated with opal are:

  • Fire opal is thought of having healing power for blood related diseases. Its psychological benefits include getting rid of laziness and depression.
  • Black opal has therapeutic benefits for reproductive disorders. By wearing black opal people can also get rid of the stress that comes with those reproductive disorders.
  • White opals are considered very effective for people who have been experiencing neurological disorders.
  • People who are facing sleeping disorders and have frequent nightmares can wear almost any kind of opal stone. Opal is known to relax and therefore, help you sleep.

Zodiac Association of Opal

Opal is considered as the gemstone for the month of October in the Gregorian calendar. It is said to be a suitable gemstone for all those zodiac signs that are ruled by Mercury. People with zodiac signs of Cancer, Libra, Pisces and Scorpio might want to wear opal for its potential benefits.

Emeralds: A Part of Ancient Religious and Cultural History of The World

red diamond 3d rendering
Red Diamond Emerald

Since ancient times, the Emerald has caught the interest and fascination of humans. Like many other gifts of nature found in lush green shades, real emeralds are also found in stunning green color. There are other green gems such as peridot and tourmaline but none are as famous, beautiful and rightfully expensive as emeralds. In this article, we will try to shed some light on the historical significance of the stone. Let’s start with its name origin and some ancient history.   

Emerald’s name origin

Historians are agreed on the fact that the word ‘Emerald’ is the distorted form of a Greek word ‘smaragdus’ which means ‘green’.

Trace back of emerald in the history

The first mining of emerald was reported in the ancient Egypt dating back to 300 BC. In Egypt, emerald was revered as a precious gemstone.  Cleopatra, the last ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt considered the manifestation of beauty, was fond of emerald and it is used as part of many of her royal adornments.

History also suggests that Roman were also fond of this magnificent gemstone. According to the writings of famous Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder, in ancient Rome people stared into emerald to relieve tediousness and exhaustion.  

In the following discussion, we will try to look into the importance of emerald in different cultural and religious symbolism.

Emerald: Equally loved by ancient gods

In many religious beliefs, offering emerald to the spiritual deity results in different rewards for the people. For instance, Hindus were the belief that people who offer emerald to the god Krishna become high in heaven and god rewards these generous offerings with the knowledge of soul and eternity.

There is another historical trace of people offering emeralds to their gods.  A Spanish historian from the 16th century AD, who had extensively researched on the north of South America, also hinted about the emerald offering of the natives to their gods. According to him, people used to burn emeralds and gold before the depictions of the Moon and Sun which are considered the highest divinities.

Emerald used as a rewarding gift to gods implies that not only humans but gods were also fond of this gemstone.

 

Emerald: A stone embedded in the breastplate of Aaron

The breastplate of Aaron, which is discussed in the Old Testament, had different gemstones embedded in it. Scholars are still debating the type of those gemstones because revision to the original text has changed the names and categorization of the stones. Apart from that, the linguistic changes through the course of time have also altered the names of different gemstones.

It has been cited that a greenstone was used in the breastplate of Aaron. It could be the real green emerald, green feldspar or any other green stone but historical indications are stronger towards the use of emerald. Emerald began to be mined near the ancient site of Nubia, Egypt before the era in which the breastplate got made.

The Peruvian goddess made of emerald

In the 15th century, when Spanish kingdom was roaring around the South America, people of the city of Manta in present-day Peru used to worship a goddess named Umina. The goddess was made of an emerald of the size of an ostrich egg. It was displayed to the public only on feast days by the priest.

According to their dogmatic belief, followers can worship the goddess by only bringing her daughters. Small size emeralds were called the daughters of the Umina. When the city was captured and conquered by the Spaniards, they found plenty of emeralds there however they failed to trace the emerald goddess Umina.

Spaniards also waste many of these precious gemstones in order to determine their originality. They smashed emeralds on anvil because they were of the thought that original emerald is the hardest gemstones and it can withstand this smashing.

Emerald Symbolism embedded in depiction of mystic and mysterious cities

There are many tales and folklore in India which talks about the mysterious cities and forts with walls, facets and entire temples made of gold and other precious elements. There are paintings which depict these cities and their features. According to the pictorial depictions of those wealthy cities, leaves of plants and trees have dripping emeralds and rubies.  

From the above discussion, it is quite clear that emerald has always been an important part of different historical religious and cultural reference spread all across the world.

 

Zircon: From Gemstone to Pigment

Zircon gem in red

Photo by simplyyayimages.com

Zircon is a mineral compound composed of the elements zirconium and silicon. Zircon is commonly found in nearly every type of rock formations all around the world. Zircon has been used as a gemstone for millennia. Even though zircon comes in different colors but the most sought after is colorless zircon due to its close resemblance with diamonds, thanks to its fine dispersion and brightness.

Name and history of zircon

Zircon faces chronological injustice because most of the people know it as an imitation element due it its extensive use as a low-cost diamond substitute in the beginning of the 20th century. However, the stone is naturally found in many different shades. Even the origination of the name ‘zircon’ indicates that the other colors of the mineral were equally popular in the past.

Name origin of zircon

There are two popular theories regarding the name origination of this mineral stone:

  • Some historians think that ‘zircon’ is derived from the Arabic word ‘zarkun’ which translates to vermilion or cinnabar, both represents the different shades of red.
  • Other historians are of the thought that zircon is borrowed from the Persian word ‘zargun’ meaning gold colored.

With zircon’s natural occurrence in a wide variety of color shades, either of the name origination can be true.

A prized stone during medieval times

Different variants of zircons held important place during middle ages. People believed that these stone had the ability to repel evil spirits. Possessing zircon was associated with good fortunes and wisdom.  

Important ornamental stone of Victorian era

Zircon became widely popular during Victorian era. Many jewelry specimen of the time were fitted with rare blue variants of the gemstone. A famous gemologist of the time, George Kunz was known for his fondness of zircon. He even proposed the change in name of the stone to highlight its vivid characteristic.

Geology of the stone

Igneous rock formations that have undergone the process of metamorphism usually host zircon gemstone. They are also found as accessory mineral in granite deposits. Most of this zircon goes unnoticed because its aggregate are present in very small size dispersed in a larger volume of the given ore.  

Gem-grade variety of zircon can be found in the soil and sedimentary rocks. Due to their high resistance to graze and chemical reactions, they remain keep their shape and structure even when the rock formation around them undergo erosion. Therefore, there are certain billion-year old deposits of zircon as per their carbon dating. The bigger the cut of zircon, the better it would be to be used as gemstone.

Gemstone zircon

Even in modern times, zircon gemstones are used in many jewelry items. Most of the famous choices of zircon gemstone are brown, red and yellow and treated variants of green and blue. We have already discussed that colorless zircons are used as the low cost diamond substitutes. The other in-demand type of modern times is blue zircon.  

Perfect fit for jewelries’

Due to its greater value of hardness on Mohs scale (7.5) and good cleavage grading, it is suitable to be used in different ornamental items including earrings, brooches, rings and bracelets. Jewelry items featuring zircon as the primary gemstone can last for many years without losing the sheen and magnificence of the stone.

Industrial and gem-grade mining of the stone

Since the use of zircon is not limited to the domain of jewelry and gems anymore. Industrial use of zircon has also been established with time. Mining of both type of grades are usually done in separate geological sites.  

Gem-grade

Gem-grade deposits of zircon are being mined for centuries from the alluvium deposits located in the far eastern countries of Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia. Sri Lanka is also famous for the mining of gem-grade zircon.  

Industrial-grade

Now more mining of the stone is done for the sake of its industrial uses. Australia tops the chart for mining zircon for its industrial uses. Brazil, China and Kenya also have some noteworthy land and marine alluvial deposits of industrial-grade Zircon.

Due to its high temperature resistant characteristic, zircon is used as a refractory lining that are installed inside furnace and kilns. By converting zircon mineral into zirconium dioxide at extremely high temperature, it gets into amorphous form which is then used as a pigment in different industrial and manufacturing processes.  

Howard Fensterman Minerals