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Since the time of its discovery, shungite mesmerized the public with its mysterious healing and cleansing properties. Since its popularity and fame was growing, it drew attention of academic community. Everyone was eager to know, what is so special about this unique stone from the North of Russia and why did it possess these properties. For the first time shungite was described in the book “Journey to Lakes Onega, Ladoga and Ilmen” by Nikolai Ozeretskovski which was published in 1792. But back then the stone didn’t even have the name.
The name shungite, which derives from the name of the village Shunga where the stone was found, was given by professor Alexander Aleksandrovich Inostrantsev back in 1885. Professor Inostrantsev wrote the first in-depth scientific work about shungite which later became widely recognized all over Europe and attracted attention. His work was called “The newest member of the group of amorphous carbons” which was published in 1877, and it was followed by “More about shungite” in 1886. The attention to shungite grew substantially after these works were published, and 1907 marked the first time the word “shungite” was described in a dictionary, namely in the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron, the major dictionary of the Russian Empire. But at the time there wasn’t enough academic background to provide comprehensive scientific research in the field of geology, and shungite works were left on the shelves for the time being.
However, the establishment of the new system of higher education in the Soviet Union and the foundation of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR opened new possibilities for the studies of shungite. At the forefront of these studies was, of course, the Academy of Sciences of Karelia, since shungite is exclusive to this region. Such researchers as Pyotr Borisov (“Karelian Shungites”, 1956), V. Sokolov and Y. Kalinin (“Shungites of Karelia and ways of its comprehensive research”, 1975;”Geology of shungitonous volcanogenic sedimentary formations of the Proterozoic period in Karelia”, 1982; “Shungite – the new carbon material”, 1984) and V. Solovov (Radio-shielding properties of composite materials based on shungite rocks and its compounds, 1990) dug deeper into the physical properties of shungite, its composition, its abilities in electromagnetic protection, its origins and possibilities in further application of shungite. These studies helped to create the image of shungite, proved some rumours about it, including its cleansing and shielding properties, and drew attention to further researches, as well as established the Institute of Geology of the Academy of Sciences of Karelia as one of the leading research center in the field in Europe.
With the collapse of Soviet Union and the arrival of the age of globalization, the whole world became interested in studying this mysterious stone from Russia. And arguably the most important study of all was conducted in the US at the beginning of the 1990s. Robert Curl and Richard Smalley of the Rice University and Harold Kroto of the University of Sussex, England, carried out a 10 years long research which resulted in discovery of unique structure of carbon inherent in shungite – fullerenes. For their discovery the three scientists were acknowledged by the Nobel prize in Chemistry in 1996. This discovery created countless possibilities for new inventions in the fields of industry, medicine, energy, new materials and so much more. And it all started when they took a closer look on the piece of shungite from Karelia.
This groundbreaking work was later supplemented by a number of scientific researchers all around the world, including the Russian federation, which solidified the reputation of shungite and proved it to be a reliable material for filtering toxins and neutralizing different kinds of radiation. In turn, it raised the popularity of shungite in water filters and created a buzz around this unique stone. To this we can witness a growing popularity of shungite among common people, who wish to acquire it for personal protection and purification. It is expected to continue to grow as people will learn more and more about this somewhat mysterious mineral through this substantial scientific basis.