An Israeli mining company has unearthed a mineral previously only known to exist in outer space. This special mineral, which was embedded in a blue gem, was called "Carmel Sapphire" or "Carmeltazita", due to its chemical composition and in honor of Mount Carmel, the place where it was discovered.
The new mineral, consisting of titanium, aluminum, and zirconium, was included in the official list of the International Mineralogical Association, Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature, and Classification. To be recognized and approved by this organization, its composition, crystal structure, and properties had to be substantially different from those of any existing mineral species.
The Shefa Yamim mining company, based in the city of Acre, found the new mineral in volcanic rock in the Haifa region, encrusted in a corundum crystal, another mineral of extraordinary hardness, composed of aluminum oxide, which is usually present in nature in the form of ruby or sapphire.
The crystalline structure and properties of Carmeltazite make it a unique element, whose composition closely resembles Allendeite, a mineral discovered after analyzing a meteorite that plowed the Mexican sky in 1969 and fell in the Allende Valley after exploding into thousands of fragments that spread in the state of Chihuahua.
The birth of the "Carmel Sapphire" brand
Shefa Yamim has been working since 2014 to extract volcanic sapphire from northern Israel, near the Kishon River. After its discovery, the mining company received a trademark from the Israeli government to market the extremely rare and precious gems as "Carmel Sapphire".
"In today's world, where gemstone prices are determined primarily by their rarity, Carmel Sapphire is a unique discovery because it has not been found anywhere in the world," said at the time of its discovery Avi Taub, the president of the mining company.
The color of Carmel Sapphire covers a wide range of blue with white ribs and orange-brown - due to the traces of calcium, magnesium, and scandium, which it also contains. Carmeltazite manifests itself in the form of ribs in shades of black and dark green inside the blue crystal. According to experts, its rarity, hardness, and size make it a unique piece for high-end jewelry.
The treasures of Israel
The main study of the new mineral was conducted by a team of experts led by Australian geologist William Griffin, an expert in the earth's crust.
William Griffin originally visited Israel in 2016 to analyze several moissanite rocks, another space mineral found by the Israeli company near the city of Haifa, in the same place as the Carmeltazite, which is formed in the absence of oxygen. Its diamond appearance may confuse the inexperienced eye, but it is a silicon carbide stone that today is even synthesized in laboratories for the jewelry industry.
"Israel has large deposits containing various types of precious stones, including diamonds. This is really a gold mine," said the geologist.
The largest Carmel Sapphire precious stone found so far weighed 33.3 carats.