Let's Clear This Out: What is Shungite? Rock or Mineral?

Posted by Karelian_Heritage 22/02/2019 0 Comment(s) Shungite 101,



      You might have noticed that when we talk about our favorite shungite, we use different terms to address it from time to time. Mostly we use words like stone, rock, mineral or crystal. This diversity may cause some confusion, especially among geology or mineralogy experts, and we would lie to you if we said that we don’t get confused ourselves sometimes. So we have decided to end this ambiguity once and for all and sort out different terms that surround shungite.


      First of all we should start with the most neutral word in our geological glossary, which is the word “stone”. We can name stone practically everything in the mineral world, since it is not a technical term.  Usually this word means small single specimens and you can use to describe both raw nuggets and processed item, like polished or tumbled stones.  If the item you have doesn’t have any distinctive features (like crystals, for example, but we will talk about them later) you can use the word “stone” freely. Shungite is definitely falls under this category so there is no doubt that you can use “stone” when talking about shungite.


      Yet there is a derivative term from the word “stone” that should not be used with the same freedom and this word is “gemstone”, since not every stone is gemstone. Gemstone is the stone which is strong enough to be processed (cut and faceted) to be used in the jewelry pieces. Of course we use shungite in our jewelry collections, however here we talk about more complex and detailed production. Basically if a master has a gemstone he (if he is a decent master, naturally) should be able to shape it as he pleases and shungite is just too fragile for that. However stones like moonstone, turquoise, amethyst, aquamarine, etc., are genuine gemstones and can be called that with ease.


      Another common word that is used to describe various stones is “rock”. It seems to be very broad, as it is a simple word that we use all the time since childhood, however if we wish to go technical (and today we certainly wish) the word “rock” is much more complex. You see, the mineralogical definition of the word “rock” is a solid mass composed from grains of multiple chemical compositions and it may contain organic material alongside the non-organic minerals. That is the main difference rocks have from minerals, but more on that later. What’s important here is that all organic-based specimens fall under the name of “rock”. As shungite is composed mostly of carbon (some specimens of elite shungite contain up to 98% of carbon) we can confidently call it a rock, yet some mineral cannot be called that. Other notable rocks include Jade and Lapis Lazuli.


      So now that we have mentioned minerals, we should clear the difference between rocks and minerals. Contrary to rock which contains several chemical compositions, mineral is a solid mass of only one chemical composition. What we call mineral should answer the following criteria: to be of natural origin (so it cancels out synthesized specimens), inorganic in its nature (that cancels out all fossil-based rocks) and it has to have and internal crystalline structure (yet it doesn’t mean that it should have visible crystallized form).  Thus, a large number of specimens are eligible to be called minerals, for example quartz, garnet, pyrite, hematite, carnelian and many more. Technically, shungite cannot be named mineral, since its origin is organic, so we will keep that in mind and try not to make this mistake again. 


      The last but not least, the name that we love to give to every stone regardless of its nature or origin. Maybe it is due to the fact that the thing we do is called “crystal healing” but we use the word “crystal” and just can’t help it. Yet technically this isn’t right. This will be a tautology on our part, but crystals are only minerals with a visible crystallized form. To be more precise, “crystalized” means: naturally faceted, symmetrical/assymetrical three-dimensional geometric form. They can have a large number of shapes and sizes but the one thing is true: you know it’s a crystal when you see it. That way, it is completely wrong to call shungite a crystal, as it bears no features of it. Again, we will try to refrain from using this word so it would not confuse you in the future.


      The bottom line is: It is important to know how to differentiate different terms of mineralogy and genealogy not to cause any confusion among shungite enthusiasts and crystal lovers. But at the end of the day, if you are not too sensitive to semantics and wish to use the word you are more attuned to, of course, feel free to use any word you find suitable. Crystal healing is a very personalized process and it’s the personal touches like this that make it so utterly unique. Learn more about shungite and crystal healing together with our blog at Karelian Heritage!

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