Articles on Gemstones

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Pictured is a slag pile at Broken Hill in New South Wales. Slag is a man-made waste product created during smelting. Anita Parbhakar-Fox

Our ability to manufacture minerals could transform the gem market, medical industries and even help suck carbon from the air

Manufacturing minerals is an expanding field of study. Making more of them could help alleviate various pressures faced by our growing population. But how are they made, and where can they be used?
Diamond or zirconia? Apart from the price, it can be hard to tell these two gems apart. from www.shutterstock.com

A disappointing earring, and the world’s hottest rock: zirconia

Zirconia is a mineral with a crystal structure made from the elements zirconium and oxygen. It looks pretty like diamond, but is only worth a fraction of the value.
The first three Natural History Museum painites – including one in its natural state with rubies that had been sitting in their collection for years. It had initially been misidentified as the much less valuable tourmaline. © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

What is a gem? And why painite from Myanmar can fetch US$60,000 per carat

What makes a stone a gem? It boils down to a few key qualities: beauty and durability. But opal, the national gemstone of Australia, is an anomaly - it's soft.

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