The 23.1-carat Carmen Lucia Ruby, donated to the Smithsonian Institution.
Gem hunters have always been natural geologists, seeking the mother lode long before researchers explained how gems and minerals form.
Now, scientists want to officially link precious gems to their geologic setting, with a new suite of tectonic gemstones that will help researchers and the public recognize the special conditions that create rare gems.
Their proposal kicks off with ruby and jadeite jade, two rare stones linked to colliding tectonic plates.
"I don't think anyone ever started off looking for gems," said Robert Stern, geoscientist at the University of Texas at Dallas and lead author of the proposal, published May 9 in the journal Geology. "Who was the first person to find a shiny stone? But everybody's always appreciated ideas of beauty, whether or not they understood the natural conditions. We can take advantage of what we know and appreciate them even more," he told LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet.
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