Israeli firm unearths gemstone with mineral mix previously only found in space

Shefa Yamim mining firm says carmeltazite has not been identified on Earth before; compound could boost value of sapphires from northern Carmel mountain range

A Carmel Sapphire unearthed by Shefa Yamim in northern Israel. (YouTube screenshot)
A Carmel Sapphire unearthed by Shefa Yamim in northern Israel. (YouTube screenshot)

An Israeli mining company has announced that a new type of mineral it found in the country’s northern Carmel mountain range, and which has a chemical composition previously only found in outer space, was last week formally recognized by the International Mineralogical Association.

The Shefa Yamim company began unearthing sapphire gemstones in volcanic rock in the area of the Kishon River, near Haifa, in 2014, according to a statement on the company’s website.

They dubbed the rare stones “Carmel Sapphires.” The new mineral, called carmeltazite, was found embedded inside the sapphires and is a milky mix of dark and light blues.

It was named after the Carmel region, where it was found, and its main components — titanium, aluminum and zirconium.

Shefa Yamim CEO Avi Taub told the Haaretz daily that the mineral has only previously been identified in rocks in outer space.

“We are delighted that our Carmel Sapphire has been recognized as a host to many rare minerals,” Taub said in a statement. “In today’s world where the prices of gems are determined predominantly by their rarity, the Carmel Sapphire is a unique discovery because it has not been found anywhere else in the world.”

The company has already acquired a trademark from Israel’s government to market the stones under the name “Carmel Sapphire.” The presence of the previously unknown mineral could boost the value of the gemstones, reported.

The largest stone the company found was 33.3 carats, the company said.

Shefa Yamim plans on marketing the rock, but with the size of deposits unclear, geologist David Bressan writes in Forbes, “carmeltazite gemstones could possibly become more expensive than diamonds.”

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