Earth’s Rarest Minerals Give Diamonds A Run For Their Money

Marilyn Monroe, who famously said, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” probably hadn’t heard of Sardinian ichnusaite.

Ichnusaite, a pearly, colorless and brittle mineral, was discovered on the Italian island of Sardinia in 2013. Mineralogist Robert Hazen says that with only one known specimen, it’s a true rarity.

“If you wanted to give your fiancé a really rare ring, forget diamond. Give her Sardinian ichnusaite,” said Hazen, co-author of a new paper categorizing Earth’s rarest minerals.

Or maybe go with cobaltomenite, a pink-red mineral found in just four locations — Utah, Argentina, Bolivia and Congo.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, cobaltomenite is so rare that the Earth’s supply could fit in a shot glass.

In a study to be published in American Mineralogist, Hazen, of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, and Jesse Ausubel, a scientist at The Rockefeller University, inventoried and categorized more than 2,500 minerals — the rarest of the rare. Each comes from five or fewer known sites worldwide, and several have a known supply smaller than a sugar cube.

“These 2,550 minerals are far more rare than pricey diamonds and gems usually presented as tokens of love,” the authors wrote in a statement.

But there’s one major problem for those thinking of putting the rare minerals on a wedding band.

“Several are prone to melt, evaporate or dehydrate,” the authors said. “And a few, vampire-like, gradually decompose on exposure to sunlight.”

While there are more than 5,000 confirmed minerals on Earth, fewer than 100 of them make up 99 percent of Earth’s crust, according to the study.

It’s the rarest ones, Hazen told BBC News, that make Earth special and are “key to the diversity of the Earth’s near-surface environments.”

In their paper, “<a target="_blank" —> Read More