We have always thought of the diamond as the hardest substance on earth, but a recent discovery in the holy land of Israel as changed that. In 2014, a mining company by the name of Shefa Yamim discovered a strange corundum mineral in the valley close to Mount Carmel in Israel. After close study of its physical attributes, in 2018 the International Mineralogical Association proclaimed this mineral to be new to science, and has named it carmeltazite, after the place where it was found.
Carmeltazite appears to have similar corundum properties, except that it is harder than diamond while corundum is not. It was found to possess hardness exceeding that of diamond after scientists tested its density. To add to the intrigue, this mineral does not seem to occur anywhere else on earth except in the Mount Carmel region of Israel, as well as being “extraterrestrial” in nature.
It is believed this type of mineral was hitherto only found in asteroid fragments from outer space. That it was found in residual lava deposits left behind from ancient volcanoes in that part of Israel was cause for much excitement among mineralogists.
Comprising aluminum, titanium, and zirconium in its make-up, carmeltazite is said to resemble another mineral, allendeite, which is a mineral found in the Allende meteorite fragment that fell to earth in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1969. Its name comes from its locality (Carmel) and its chemical composition (TAZ – Titanium, Aluminum, Zirconium).
Carmeltazite is marketed as “Carmel Sapphire” by Shefa Yamim. Those stones that are of gemstone grade indeed superficially resemble sapphire in appearance. It occurs in dark blue, dark green, and dark brown colors.
Is this the rarest gemstone in the world? It just might be. There are other rare gemstones like Tanzanite, but this seems even rarer. The largest specimen found to date is only a tiny smidgen of its other fellow gemstones, and it’s unknown if bigger stones would be unearthed in future. Because carmeltazite is so new, most people have not heard of it, and there is probably still more to be known of it in future. The page about carmeltazite on Shefa Yamim’s website has additional interesting information on its metaphysical properties.
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