While not an everyday occurrence; new gemstones and minerals are discovered from time to time. Israeli mining company Shefa Yamim has recently identified a remarkable new mineral trapped within the inclusions of the sapphires it recovers near Mount Carmel in northern Israel.
The new material was named "carmeltazite" to honor the location of its discovery and its unique mix of chemical components; titanium, aluminum and zirconium (TAZ).
Carmeltazite was officially recognized and approved as a new mineral by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA) Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification. For a new mineral to be declared as such, its composition and crystal structure and properties must be substantially different from those of any existing mineral species.
The sapphires extracted from volcanic rock by Shefa Yamim near Mount Carmel are so unique that the Israeli government granted a trademark for the corundum to be marketed under the name "Carmel Sapphire."
Using state-of-the art technology, scientists at Macquarie University in Australia were able to identify the precise makeup of the Carmel Sapphire inclusions, which included the first non outer space occurrence of natural tistarite. Previous discoveries of the mineral tistarite reached the Earth via meteorites. They also found the TAZ chemical components of the newly designated carmeltazite, as well as volcanic glass.
Shefa Yamim described Carmel Sapphire as typically "black, blue to green and orange-brown in color." The largest rough gem found, so far, weighed 33.3 carats.
"We are delighted that our Carmel Sapphire has been recognized as a host to many rare minerals," Shefa Yamim CEO Avi Taub said in a statement. "In today's world where the prices of gems are determined predominantly by their rarity, the Carmel Sapphire is a unique discovery because it has not been found anywhere else in the world and was discovered by Shefa Yamim in the soil of the Holy Land."
A note about sapphires in general; while sapphires are mostly thought of as blue, sapphires actually come in many different colors. Besides blue; sapphires can be green, purple, golden, pink, etc. Red sapphire is known as ruby. Gemologists have often argued over many light red rubies as to whether or not they are a ruby or a pink sapphire.
Credit: Image courtesy of Shefa Yamim.