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The rarest mineral on Earth exists only in a single known gemstone

By T.K. Randall
January 1, 2023 · Comment icon 1 comment

A great many minerals have been found in Myanmar. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Arezarni
Some minerals can be found almost anywhere, while others are so rare that there is only one known example.
You might be forgiven for thinking that even the rarest and most valuable minerals on our planet can be tracked down given enough time and money, but there exists one mineral in particular that is so rare that it has only ever been found once.

Known as kyawthuite, it was discovered in the Mogok region of Myanmar in the form of a single 1.61-karat orange gemstone.

A natural bismuth antimonate, little else is actually known about it, making it one of the most enigmatic minerals on Earth, in addition to being the rarest.

The second-rarest mineral on Earth, meanwhile, is painite - a red hexagonal crystal that, although still exceedingly difficult to find, is at least a bit more readily available than kyawthuite.
The first two known samples were acquired in 1952 by gem collector and dealer Arthur Pain (after which the mineral was named) who initially believed them to be common rubies.

Since then, mineralogist George Rossman has been maintaining a database of every sample found.

"To my knowledge, no one has done a serious study of what it takes to form painite," he told Live Science. "I know of no attempt to synthesize it in a lab."

Source: Live Science | Comments (1)

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