Now, a great number of precious and semi-precious stones are mined all over the world, but even at our place few of us know that the rarest and even one-of-a-kind stones are hidden in the interior of Kazakhstan.
“The best friends for girls are diamonds”, as the well-known song goes. But to be more sincere – not diamonds only, and not for girls only. The passion for gems can be traced back to the dawn of time, when an ancient man found a crystal of sparkling splendor set in the rock, and the awe he felt towards this mystery settled in his heart forever.
A piece of the Universe
Scientists of the world are aware of the crater about 500 m in diameter, which is located in Irghiz district of Aktobe oblast. This is the after-effect of the meteor impact, which, according to scientists, happened from hundreds of thousands to million years ago. An eyewitness of these events, a guest from space, the stone called irghizite is one-of-a-kind.
This splendid mineral is the remains of that very celestial body that collapsed down to earth long ago. Meteor it was, asteroid, or comet – it is not known for certain: researchers still argue about that, but this makes irghizite more and more valuable for collectors and connoisseurs of precious stones. The cost of this unique stone that looks like a little piece of night sky gemmed with millions of stars reaches up to two thousand dollars in various countries of the world in hands of collectors.
The Kazakh emerald
In the late 18th century Ashir Zaripov, a merchant from Bukhara, traveled around Central Asia, and one day he met a man who was selling green crystals of extraordinary beauty. For the small amount of money he agreed to guide Ashir to the deposit of these stones. Having followed his guide to the banks of Altyn Su river, at the foot of a mountain the merchant saw a dyke hiding these amazing stones within itself.
Ashir had quite good relationships with the authorities of the Russian empire, and so he brought the green crystals to the court of Catherine the Great. The news about emeralds from Kazakh steppe spread all over Petersburg, and then reached Europe.
Achirits, as these stones were called in honour of the quick-witted merchant, caught the interest of a big head of science, a founder of crystallography, René Just Haüy. He found out that the mineral from the Kazakh steppe differs from emerald and called it dioptase (from Greek dia – through, optisia – vision). Then, this time in Germany, this mineral was scrupulously studied by a professor of Freiberg Mining Academy, Abraham Gottlob Werner. The scientist left it with the name “emerald”, but added the word “copper” to it (copper emerald). There are only two countries in the world having achirit deposits – Kazakhstan and Chile. It is in the list of the rarest minerals and is very highly valued among jewelers and collectors.
The philosophers’ stone
The great Frenchman Remy Belleau wrote in one of his wonderful poems: “I sing my song to beryl, this gem is good, its colour is like colour of the sea wave”. The beauty of beryl, with its bright flicker and incredible colour gamut was duly appreciated back in the 16th century. It is highly valued by jewelers all over the world. The cost of some beautiful examples reaches up to two thousand dollar per carat.
Amateurs of astrology and esoteric relate this stone to intellect, thinking, and mind. It is regarded as the stone of philosophers. It helps to have philosophic meditativeness and to make scientific researches, brings his owner to people who are important and interesting for him. This gorgeous stone is able not only to adorn a unique piece of jewelry or serve as an amulet, it is also broadly used in manufacturing of the most important details for airplanes, rockets, and spacecrafts.
The thing is that the modern technology is able to extract from beryl the metallic beryllium, which possesses extraordinary features. This silvery-white metal is almost twice as much lighter than aluminum. If the melting temperature of aluminum is 660ºC, then beryllium stands up to 1284 ºC! It has heat resistance out of ordinary.
Such a beautiful and useful mineral. And at the foot of Akshatu mountain, near Karaganda, there is the largest deposit of beryl in the world. These reserves of precious stones are almost intact. The abovementioned unique minerals are one of those few that Kazakhstani land may boast of.
Text by Alexandrina Gorshkova