Mineral of the Month: Nuummite (Greenland)
To unravel the history and origin of this ancient stone, we embark on a journey to Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, accessible only by boat. In fact, the name "Nuummite" translates to "derived from Nuuk" in Greenlandic.
By delving into the fascinating world of Nuummite, we uncover a rare gem from the depths of Greenland, its allure heightened by its timeless beauty and intriguing history.
Historical Significance of Nuummite:
Nuummite is believed to have been formed about 3 billion years ago, but only appeared in the trade market sometime in the 80s. Some claim it was first discovered in 1810 by mineralogist K.L. Giesecke and then subsequently rediscovered in 1982.
Nuummite holds cultural and historical significance for the Inuit people of Greenland. The exact beginnings of nuummite's discovery and use by the Inuit people are shrouded in the mists of time. It is believed that nuummite has been known and revered by the Inuit for over a thousand years. It has been used in their traditional practices and is regarded as a stone of empowerment, healing, and spiritual connection.
The fame of nuummite spread beyond the boundaries of Greenland in the late 20th century, capturing the attention of gemstone enthusiasts and collectors worldwide. Its unique appearance and metaphysical properties garnered interest and admiration from individuals seeking its transformative qualities.
Nuummite is of volcanic origin and a metamorphic rock composed primarily of two minerals: anthophyllite and gedrite. Formed through the metamorphic alteration of rock, nuummite exhibits a striking mixture of elongated crystals, often arranged in sheaf-like groups. With an overall hardness rating of 5-6, this gemstone showcases a remarkable optical phenomenon called iridescence when polished. Delicate and thin crystals create a breathtaking iridescence, infusing the gem with an inner golden glow reminiscent of flames in a fire.
The iridescence found in polished nuummite is the result the interference of light reflected from layers of anthophyllite and gedrite.
What is iridescence?
Iridescence is a name used to describe an optical effect when colors are produced by light interference. Basically, colors change with the direction of observation.
When iridescence happens within minerals, a mineral displays an “inner glow”. The diffraction of light through various mineral structures result in spectacular colors, some compare this to a rainbow. This light effect is caused where exsolution has occurred in the mineral.
Iridescent minerals are considered some of the most fascinating displays of color in the mineral world. This optical phenomenon can be described in many different words such as a glow, shimmer, or glitter and compared to fire, rainbows, a kaleidoscope display of colors.
The official definition of iridescence from mindat.org is, “The exhibition of interference colors from the surface or interior of a mineral, caused by light interference from thin films or layers of different refractive index. Labradorite and some other feldspars show it. The tarnish on the surface of coal, chalcopyrite, limonite, etc., is sometimes iridescent. Adj. iridescent.”
Other examples of popular iridescent stones are opal, tiger’s eye, and labradorite.
Nuummite in Jewelry:
Polishing nuummite gemstones is typically effortless, although specific qualities may present challenges in avoiding holes and cracks within parallel crystals. While the conventional choice is a cabochon shape, other convex finishes can yield alluring forms. In larger specimens, it is possible to preserve the vibrant range of iridescent colors, resulting in one end of the cabochon exhibiting a shimmering golden hue, while the opposite end emanates a beautiful bluish tone.
A polished piece of nuummite makes an excellent choice for jewelry such as pendants, bracelets, and rings. Due to its mesmerizing appearance, it is highly valued by jewelry designers and individuals looking for distinctive gemstones. Designers often choose to feature nuummite as the centerpiece of their creations, allowing the stone's rich play of colors to take center stage.
With its rise in popularity, imitations and misrepresentations of nuummite also emerged. When acquiring nuummite jewelry, it is crucial to ensure the authenticity of the stone. Buyers are advised to purchase from reputable jewelers or dealers who can provide verification of the stone's origin and quality.
Many individuals argue that Greenland nuummite holds the distinction of being the "authentic" nuummite. Similar-looking stones from other regions were sometimes sold as nuummite, leading to confusion. Authentic nuummite, sourced from Greenland, remains highly valued for its rarity and authenticity.
Online articles suggest that this stone could be the real-life equivalent of the Sorcerer's Stone depicted in the Harry Potter books. While the magical powers attributed to nuummite remain a subject of debate, there is no denying its sheer beauty as a magnificent cabochon.
Today, nuummite continues to be celebrated for its rich history, captivating beauty, and spiritual significance. It serves as a bridge between ancient traditions and modern practices, reminding us of the deep connections we share with the Earth and the power of natural elements to inspire and transform our lives.
- Chemical Formula: (Mg2)(Mg5)Si8O22(OH)2
- Mohs Scale Hardness: 5.5 – 6.0
- Luster: Vitreous/glossy
- Density: 2.85 - 3.57