Precious Gemstones from Outer Space
Precious stones, also known as gemstones, are pieces of mineral crystals which are used as jewellery or other accessories after being cut and polished. They are often labelled as highly-valued objects due to their lack of abundance. It is commonly used in the production of jewellery as a result of various beliefs or simply as a fashion statement.
In the fashion industry, certain precious stones such as opal and obsidian, and naturally occurring organic materials such as pearl and amber, are used frequently as well. However, in this article we will be focusing more on the gemstones in our universe. But first, how exactly did gemstones come into existence?
Ever heard of the phrase ‘Pressure makes Diamonds’? Likewise, gemstones are created from rich minerals which have been compressed under pressure over a long period of time. That is why most gemstones are found in the Earth’s crust, approximately 3 to 25 miles beneath the Earth’s surface. However, there are some gemstones that were not discovered under the Earth’s surface but instead, by asteroid impact or from outer space through a meteor.
Gemstones from Asteroid Impact
Asteroid impact refers to the process when a rock in space moves through the atmosphere to collide with the Earth surface. During the entrance of the rock into the Earth’s atmosphere, it is travelling at very high speeds which in turn generates high pressure and high energy onto the rock.
The impact of the rock to the Earth also causes the rock to undergo certain changes with the impact. Such an interaction generates high pressure and high heat, added on with minerals from the atmosphere, it is a recipe for discovery of gemstones. Such asteroids that form gemstones upon impact are also known as impactite.
Gemstones formed by impactite are scattered all across the world as they break into tiny pieces upon entering Earth’s atmosphere and impact on Earth’s surface. These stones formed are beautiful but generally not recommended for daily wear in jewellery due to the softness of the material.
A few examples of gemstones (moldavites) by asteroid impact are:
Forest green, olive green glass by meteorite impact in southern Germany, 15 million years ago.
Libyan desert glass
Desert glass or Great Sand Sea glass, found in western Egypt, Libya deserts and eastern Sahara. Due to the vast area of desert glass, it is easily harvested and sold by the crystals wholesaler from Egypt.
Black, green, brown or grey natural gravel-sized glass.
2. Diamonds in Russia
Russia is known to be home to the largest accumulation of diamonds in the world, from the Popigai Crater. It was created during the collision of an asteroid to the Earth – specifically a carbon-rich area in Russia. With the extreme heat and pressure, it was a miracle for the carbon-rich area to be cultivated into diamonds.
1. Meteorite Slices
Majority of meteorite slices originate from outer space – as pieces of debris from comets, asteroids, meteorites, or meteoroids. They are alloys of iron and nickel, and have a slight shine to them after cutting and polishing. The meteorite slices are mostly used as jewellery inlay to make channels or voids such that the gemstone attached to the jewellery will not fall out. Most meteorite for fine jewellery is sourced from Namibia where the Gibeon meteorite is found.
Due to the varying patterns of meteorite slices, sometimes an acid bath is used to emphasise the etching, which is uniquely known as the Widmanstӓtten pattern. It is similar to the charring method for wood called Shou-Sugi. Shou-Sugi is a process where wood is burned with a butane torch and the burnt portion of softwood is brushed off with a metal brush to reveal the grain.
2. Black Diamonds
Black diamonds, also referred to as Carbonado diamonds, are entirely different compared to the traditional diamonds and are not found in the crystal mines. Because Carbonado diamonds are so rare, many diamonds try to replicate it by irradiating to their dark colour.
According to scientists, Carbonado diamonds consist of Nitrogen and Hydrogen, whereas regular diamonds are made of a single element – Carbon. The presence of the other elements in the Black Diamonds suggests it might have a stellar origin, and might have been formed via explosions of the stars in space. Some other hypotheses are that the Black Diamonds might have descended on Earth in asteroids even before the separation of the continents, which might suggest why they are only found in Brazil and the Central African Republic.
Another hypothesis is that diamonds exist on Jupiter and Saturn as they have the appropriate atmosphere for the creation of diamonds. The atmospheric pressure, topped off with the lightning storms, are good conditions to churn carbon into raw diamonds. Hence it is thought that deep in the seas of Jupiter and Saturn, exists large deposits of the precious gem.
A gemstone that is widely used in the present in the jewellery industry, especially in the production of various jewelleries for brides. It made its first appearance on earth 50,000 years ago during the collision of a meteor and Earth.
Among the dispersed pieces of the meteor across northern Arizona’s desert, Moissanite was discovered at Diablo Canyon by a French scientist Dr. Moissan in 1893. Due to the rarity of natural moissanite, researchers have developed a method to recreate the crystals synthetically in a lab, which is now very widely used.
4. Opal on Mars
Opals have been used to produce jewellery from our home planet Earth, however, the presence of it was discovered back in 1911. Back in 1911, a meteorite from Mars had descended upon a village in Egypt. From the meteorite, scientists observed the existence of fire opals, which gave way to a theory on Mars. With opal containing mostly found near high temperature water and abundance of minerals, this gemstone has brought about further confirmation of the presence of water on Mars in the past.
5. Space Peridot
Peridot is a birthstone associated with the month August. It is considered a common gemstone that can be easily discovered on our earth. Hence, the majority of this particular gemstone used in the production of exquisite jewellery is based on earth.
However, Space Peridot is a whole different ball game. Space peridot, as the name suggests, is from the cosmos. The outer space gem comes in the form of Pallasite Meteorite as first discovered in 1749 by Peter Pallas, a famous German naturalist. The Esquel meteorite is also one of the most notable sources of the interstellar-space gemstones.
These stones discussed in this article were not found on the Earth’s surface, but rather, were granted to us from the cosmos. The universe is a beautiful place which delivers us magical new discoveries all the time. Other magical crystals that you might be more familiar with are Birthstones as seen from the chart below:
|January||Garnet||Love, friendship, passion, loyalty, faith|
|February||Amethyst||Peace, courage, stability|
|March||Aquamarine||Youth, loyalty, hope, truth, purity|
|April||Diamond||Commitment, promise, love, faithfulness|
|May||Emerald||Health, prosperity, elegance, hope|
|June||Alexandrite / Moonstone / Pearl||Luck, intellect, growth, peace|
|July||Ruby||Love, power, nobility, passion, courage|
|August||Peridot / Spinel||Joy, longevity, passion, revitalisation|
|September||Sapphire||Fortune, royalty, wisdom, truth|
|October||Opal / Tourmaline||Innocence, hope, creativity|
|November||Topaz / Citrine||Success, wellness, abundance, happiness|
|December||Tanzanite / Zircon / Turquoise||Truth, wisdom, stability|
All in all, crystals can be discovered in the earth’s crust or through meteorites from outer space. It usually takes a long time for these crystals to form – up to millions of years, hence, this makes each jewellery containing these gemstones a valuable one.