What Russia hides underneath? Minerals and Stones of the Russian Federation
The Russian Federation is famous for a high amount of natural resources. When we talk about Russian natural resources, first to come to mind are fossil fuels: oil, coal and gas. And not surprisingly so: Russia is one of the main exported of fuels in the world. But they are not the only resources Russia takes its pride in. Well, today we will look at those stones that are mined in Russia and see what is so peculiar about them. And we got to say, there are a lot of them here, this way Russia can compete with Thailand and India with the amount of deposits and diversity of stones, both regular minerals and rocks and precious and semi-precious gemstones.
- Emerald. One of the most expensive gemstones (larger specimen can be valued higher that diamonds) have been known in the Russian Empire since the beginning of the 19th century. The Ural Mountains mines near present-day Yekaterinburg were opened in 1831 and still operate to this day. The deposits of the largest mine (called “Malyshevskoe deposit”) are evaluated to contain more than 60 tons of emeralds. The biggest emerald ever mined there is 637 grams (1,40 lbs.) and was called “the Jubilee emerald”. Emerald is simply one of the most popular high-grade gemstones and a wonderful sight to behold which made it a go-to stone in jewelry. The unusual green color, of course is not for every style and outfit yet with a thoughtful application it will be a stunning addition to your look.
- Charoit. Now we go from something everyone knows to something hardly anyone knows. Much like shungite, this mineral is mined exclusively in Russia, and more than that it has only one deposit on the border of Sakha Republic and Irkutsk Oblast. The deposit is aptly named “The Purple Stone” and holds more than 100 thousand tons of Charoit. The stone indeed is of purple color (and slight variations of purple) and is named after the river Chara that flows near the deposit. The stone is simple to produce and in polishing so it has become a popular choice in inexpensive jewelry, even though its price increases every year due to its rarity. Its unique color also made it popular in decoration and facing.
- Topaz. Russia has a massive topaz deposit, again in the Ural Mountains. The largest deposits are found in the Ilmen national reserve and the Ilmen’s topaz is known and valued all around the world and it is able to compete with the best specimens in the world. The deposits at Ilmen were discovered in the end of the 19th century and mining is still operational to this day. The most common topaz stones mined in Russia are either clear or blue in color, even though yellow, pink and crimson specimens can also be found. The biggest topaz rocks were estimated at nearly 30 kg (66 lbs.), while topaz crystals had a mass up to 10 kg (22 lbs.). Russian topaz is used in jewelry industry all around the world and the most famous specimens are displayed in museums, both domestic and overseas.
- Agate. Another mineral found in the heart of the Ural Mountains (truly, the treasury of Russia) is agate. Agate has been known in Russia for a long time and it was all around the Soviet Union, with deposits in Georgia, Armenia, Tadzhikistan and Ukraine. Nowadays it is mined, aside of deposits in the Ural Mountains, in Magadan Oblast, Chukchi Peninsular, Nenets Autonomous Okrug and Moscow Oblast. Agate is widely used in jewelry, sculpture and instrument making due to its density. It is also believed to be a powerful talisman and healing crystal, strengthening both physical and mental health of its user. It also strengthens will, inner strength and reconnects the user with nature.
- Amethyst. This semi-precious gemstone is found in abundance, you guess it, in the Ural Mountains. There are large deposits of amethyst near Murzinka in the Central Ural and in the Near-polar Ural. However, the history of amethyst in Russia dates back as far as 16th century, when a large deposit of amethysts was discovered in the Kola Peninsula (now called the deposit of Cape Korabl). Today the deposit is considered to be exhausted and its remains are recognized as the natural monument and are a tourist attraction, as the large layers of amethyst’s rocks are visible on site. Amethyst is considered to be a protective stone that shields its user from the negative addictions (for example, alcohol addiction, hence the name: from Greek a-, which means “no”, and methyo which means “intoxicated”), as well as a powerful healing stone.
- Jasper. This magnificent rock was known in Russia for several centuries and left a mark on its cultural heritage. The artifacts made from jasper are stored in such famous museums as the Hermitage and the Russian museum; it was used in decoration of Kremlin of Moscow, Church of the Savior on Blood in Saint-Petersburg and famous subway stations in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. All these artifacts are made of jasper found in the Polkivnik Mountain near the town of Orsk in the South Ural (ok, that’s not even funny anymore). Other large deposits in the Ural Mountains are near towns of Miass and Sibay. Aside from Ural, jasper is mined in the Altai Mountains near Zmeinogorsk and in the basins of rivers Charysh and Bukhtarma as well as in the Kola Peninsula near the village of Pechenga. Jasper was used by a lot of masters of Renaissance in the sculpture in jewelry, for example Benvenuto Cellini. After Renaissance its popularity didn’t diminish, and it is still a very popular rock in jewelry industry and such masterpieces of the old as Kolyvan Vase (also called the Queen of Vases) is a sight to behold within the walls of the Hermitage.
- Malachite. Russian Malachite was somewhat of a national symbol in the 18th-19th centuries and a symbol of an imperial power of the Russian monarchy. Some of the terms in jewelry and rock decoration were coined from a malachite production, for example “Russian mosaic”. However, those glory days had to come to an end and today the deposits of malachite are mostly exhausted. Most of the mines were opened at the beginning of the 18th century in the Ural Mountains (haven’t you had enough, Ural?!), yet there is still hope for malachite in Russia as the latest large deposit was discovered in Korovinsko-Reshetnikovskoe mine and it has been being developed ever since. The biggest malachite massive is stored in Saint-Petersburg Mining University and weighs around 500 kg (1102 lbs.). Still, the legacy of Russian Malachite industry lives on in the cultural heritage: malachite was used in decoration of famous Russian palaces, for example the Winter Palace. One of the most well-known malachite decorations is within the walls of St. Isaacs Cathedral, also in Saint-Petersburg.
- Shungite. This unique mineral is almost exclusively found in Republic of Karelia in the north-west of Russia (we bet the Ural Mountains are really sad about that). Named after the village of Shunga where the first large deposit of shungite was discovered in the end of 19th century, this rock has become increasingly popular in the 21st century due to its unique healing, protective and cleansing properties. Today the biggest mine is Zazhoginsky mine near Medvezhyegorsk and it is estimated that near 35 million tons of shungite is stored there with the yearly rate of production reaching 200 thousand tons. The array of shungite products is truly overwhelming, including shungite pyramids, cubes and spheres, jewelry pieces, figurines, shungite cosmetics, shungite harmonizers and massage stones, etc. Shungite has proved its effectiveness when it comes to healing and that is why people are so eager to have it as an instrument of everyday protection.
So there you have it, a small list of Russia’s treasures. We hope that you’ll become interested in some of those rocks and minerals to add to your personal collection, whether you are an enthusiastic mineral collector, jewelry lover or and adept of crystal healing. Buy natural stones and rock jewelry from Russia with love and enjoy the miraculous properties of these fine minerals!