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A Stone of the Strategic Importance to the US

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

In its gorgeousness, this stone is no inferior to precious sapphires. However, only geniuses are capable of cutting it. In 1984, the U.S. Congress recognized deposits with it as “strategic” for the country. In Russia, its production to date is only in plans.

The stone, which the Germans compared with wood, and whose original beauty was noted by Empress Catherine II herself, is called kyanite.

Nature played a pitiless joke with it. It rewarded it with an extraordinarily gorgeous color and transparency, so that it can compete with the most famed precious stones of the planet. However, it made it completely unsuitable for processing. It is a rarity to see it in jewelry.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

The kyanite looks so impressive that starting from the 15th century, people tried to pass it off as sapphire. In those days, the mineral was transported to Europe and Russia from India. They ennobled the stone, for example, baked in honey to make the color more saturated, and then passed off as precious minerals. All merchants buying stones from abroad were in every way warned of the possibility of substitution. Due t this, merchants were reluctant to buy all the gems of blue shades.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

But not only the external resemblance to sapphire aroused people’s interest in this stone. There is a legend that kyanite was highly appreciated by travelers. It served them as a kind of compass. The sailors made a hole in the piece of stone, hung it on a string, and carefully watched. One end of the stone, in their opinion, pointed clearly to the north, and the other to the south. The ancient Slavs believed that kyanite helps to find peace of mind. For this, the stone was clamped in their hands and for several minutes they tried not to think about anything. After such meditation, people felt rested and calmer. It was important that the crystal had no chips and cracks. Otherwise, it, on the contrary, would attract trouble and failure.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

But for all that kyanite had never found a worthy place in jewelry, is achieved tremendous success in many areas of industry. So, the mineral competes with asbestos and claims to be the best refractory mineral. Due to its properties, kyanite is even used for making clothes for firefighters. In addition, after roasting, neither the acid nor alkali can affect the mineral in any way. That is why it is in high demand in the automotive industry, production of aircraft, steel and pneumatic weapons. In the mid-20th century, the U.S. Congress recognized kyanite as a strategic natural resource for America. Indeed, the mineral is a source of aluminum, a metal of a relatively young, but extremely important and useful for the industry of any state. In recent years, Russia got to grips with the issue of extracting this component from kyanite. According to experts, this will allow the country to avoid depending on foreign supplies.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

Anyone can afford to buy kyanite for personal collection: its price is low. Although there is one specific variety, i.e., black kyanite, which is extremely rare in nature, and, as a result, has a high cost. Jewelers do not favor this mineral, because at the slightest inaccuracy in processing, the stone can instantly break into pieces. Up until now, some scammers stain colorless kyanite in blue and pass it off as sapphire. It is important to remember that kyanite has a banded color, and sapphire is consistent.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

Surprisingly, kyanite changes its hardness depending on the direction. If you draw a line with the tip of a needle along the stone, then a scratch will appear; but if you do this across the mineral layers, there will be no trace. Thus you can verify the authenticity of kyanite.