Australia is a land of natural beauty and abundance, with a diverse range of flora, fauna, and geological wonders. One of the many treasures hidden beneath the country’s rugged terrain is an impressive array of gemstones. Australia is home to some of the most beautiful and valuable gemstones in the world, and their unique qualities have made them highly sought after by collectors, designers, and jewelry enthusiasts alike.
What Gemstones come from Australia
- Opals: Australia is one of the world’s leading sources of opals. These gemstones are found in various regions, including Coober Pedy, Lightning Ridge, and Andamooka. The most valuable and sought-after variety is the black opal.
- Sapphires: Australia is also known for its sapphires, which are primarily found in New South Wales and Queensland. The most famous Australian sapphire is the particolored sapphire, which is blue and yellow or green.
- Diamonds: Although not as well-known as other Australian gemstones, diamonds are also mined in Australia. The most significant diamond mine is the Argyle mine in Western Australia, which produces rare pink diamonds.
- Chrysoprase: This bright green gemstone is found in Western Australia and is a variety of chalcedony. It is often used in jewelry and carvings.
- Zircon: This gemstone is found in a few locations in Australia, including Queensland and the Northern Territory. It is typically brown or orange in color but can also be found in blue, green, and red varieties.
- Kunzite: This pink or lilac-colored gemstone is found in the Pala district of California and in Western Australia.
- Garnets: Australia has several types of garnets, including almandine, grossular, and pyrope. The most significant deposit is located in the Central Australian gem fields, where the garnets are typically red or orange.
Where they can be found in Australia
- Opals: Opals are found in several regions across Australia, including Coober Pedy and Mintabie in South Australia, Lightning Ridge in New South Wales, and Andamooka and Lambina in South Australia.
- Sapphires: Sapphires are primarily found in New South Wales and Queensland. The New England area in New South Wales is a particularly well-known source of sapphires, as is the Central Queensland Gemfields in Queensland.
- Diamonds: The Argyle mine in Western Australia is the most significant source of diamonds in Australia. Other smaller mines are also located in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and Queensland.
- Chrysoprase: Chrysoprase is found primarily in Western Australia, where it is often mined in association with other minerals such as nickel.
- Zircon: Zircon can be found in several regions in Australia, including the Harts Range in the Northern Territory and the Central Queensland Gemfields.
- Kunzite: Kunzite is found in the Pala district of California and in Western Australia, where it is often associated with other minerals such as spodumene and tourmaline.
- Garnets: The Central Australian gem fields are the most significant source of garnets in Australia. These fields are located in the Northern Territory and include the Mount Hay and Harts Ranges.
The Properties of the Gemstones Found in Australia
- Opals: Opals are prized for their unique play of color, which occurs when light refracts through tiny silica spheres within the stone. They have a hardness of 5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, which means they are relatively soft and require gentle handling to avoid scratches and cracks.
- Sapphires: Sapphires are a type of corundum, which makes them one of the hardest gemstones, with a rating of 9 on the Mohs scale. They are available in a range of colors, but the most valuable sapphires are typically blue, pink, or yellow.
- Diamonds: Diamonds are the hardest mineral known to man, with a rating of 10 on the Mohs scale. They are prized for their brilliance and fire, which are a result of their high refractive index.
- Chrysoprase: Chrysoprase is a variety of chalcedony and has a waxy luster. It is typically a bright green color but can also occur in shades of yellow or brown. It has a hardness of 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale.
- Zircon: Zircon is a relatively soft gemstone with a hardness of 6 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale. It is available in a range of colors, but the most common zircons are brown or yellow.
- Kunzite: Kunzite is a relatively soft gemstone with a hardness of 6 to 7 on the Mohs scale. It is typically pink or lilac in color and is prized for its delicate color and transparency.
- Garnets: Garnets are a group of minerals that come in a range of colors, including red, orange, yellow, and green. They have a hardness of 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale and are prized for their brilliance and fire.
In conclusion, Australia is home to a variety of precious and semi-precious gemstones that are highly sought after by jewelers and collectors around the world. Opals, sapphires, diamonds, chrysoprase, zircon, kunzite, and garnets are among the gemstones that are found in various regions across Australia. Each gemstone has its own unique properties, such as hardness, color, and transparency, that make them prized for jewelry and decorative uses. The specific properties of each gemstone can vary depending on the quality and origin of the stone. Overall, the gemstones found in Australia represent a diverse and valuable resource that contributes to the country’s rich cultural and natural heritage.
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