From matte black to adamantine gunmetal, shungite lends an air of sophistication and mystery. Relatively unknown, shungite is a gemstone that’s been making waves in recent years. With an unusual color range and a mysterious past, the stone is poised to intrigue a generation of consumers with its dark and captivating allure.
What Color is Shungite?
Shungite ranges in color from a perfect matte black to a gleaming gunmetal finish. Rare for being a non-crystalline version of carbon, it’s this unique composition that creates the subtlety captivating colors of this nighttime gem. Most gemstones owe their coloration to impurities. When considering shungite, additions like trace metals produce the metallic version of the stone. Meanwhile, minute amounts of sulfur lend a matte black finish.
Shungite is around 98-percent pure carbon. During the Precambrian Age, algae and other microscopic organisms underwent a unique process of heating and pressure leading to the formation of shungite.
Other Shungite Quality Factors
Another fascinating property is the stone’s unique luster. Polishing a stone is the final step of processing. The luster of shungite can be very matte and resinous, or extremely glossy and glass-like. The variation occurs depending upon how the shungite forms in the Earth, and from where mining occurs. Even shungite coming from the same location can display a range of different lusters after a polish.
Shungite is opaque, with the matte charcoal version of the gem appearing to drink in surrounding light. Alternately, a highly polished gunmetal gemstone reflects like a mirror, drawing attention without saying a word.
The material’s density lends it a satisfying heft, making its presence undeniable. Shungite is popular for carving into decorative objects and shapes, such as pyramids, spheres, and other geometric figures. As forshungite jewelry, cabochons are a popular choice. But, just like Thai Black Spinel, specimens with faceting are possible.
Who Should Wear Shungite?
Fans of black and metallic gems will undoubtedly fall in love with shungite. Anyone who obsesses over the inky darkness of Thai Black Spinel or Australian black tourmaline will adore shungite. Connoisseurs of marvelous Meteorites will appreciate the gleaming finish that gunmetal shungite provides.
Does Shungite Have Healing Properties?
• Advocates of crystal healing believe that shungite possesses variable healing properties. While that remains debatable, there are documented uses of shungite for medicinal purposes.
• While traveling with his army on campaign, Peter the Great consumed water that locals explained had been purified by the shungite deposits of Karelia. He later attributed that drinking this filtered water lead to his subsequent military victory against Sweden at the Battle of Poltava in 1709.
• As a result, Peter the Great later oversaw the founding of a spa in Karelia to take advantage of this property. Also, the Russian army would begin using water purified water from this area. To this day, these spas treat people with cardiovascular disease and ailments of the spine and joints.
• Later testing, conducted in the 20th and 21st century shows that these shungite deposits possess antibacterial properties. As always, it’s recommended to follow the advice of your doctor.
What is Carbon Black?
• Besides decorative, jewelry, and spa purposes, shungite finds use as a component in paint. Ground up, shungite is used in the color known as carbon black or shungite natural black. Shungite’s use in paint pigment dates as far back as the mid-18th century.
Shungite is rare; it’s only found in a few locations worldwide. Occurrences exist in Austria, India, Russia, and the United States. Shop LC sources our supply from the original country of origin, Russia.
Where was Shungite Discovered?
Shungite initially was found in the Republic of Karelia, near Lake Putkozero. The original supply hails from near a village called Shun’ga. Shun’ga village and the surrounding area loaned shungite its name. The word “shungite” has been used to describe this material since at least 1879.
How is Shungite Mined?
A combination of intricate machinery and specialized techniques are required to mine shungite. Since the source exists in Northern Russia, the harsh temperature and climate limit digging to the spring and summer.
Rough shungite quickly whittles down as expert gem cutters shape stones. Only around 4-percent of rough ever becomes finished gemstones!
• Ranks 3.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale of hardness.
• Shungite is matte black or gunmetal in color.
• Sourced from Russia.
• Shungite undergoes no additional treatment.
Few gemstones lend an air of sophistication and mystery like that of the lustrous shungite. Said to be over two billion years old, shungite was first formed during the Precambrian age, when algae and other microscopic organisms underwent a unique process of heating and pressure that lead to its formation. Although shungite was initially discovered in the Russian republic of Karelia, its name derives from a nearby village called Shun’ga which was the source for this stone. Requiring no additional treatments, shungite sports a rich, black matte which was so desirable that it was often used as a paint pigment in the 1750’s. Advocates of crystal healing believe that shungite can possess variable healing properties and while that remains debatable, there have been documented uses of shungite for medicinal purposes. This is graduate gemmologist Becky Booker with your gem minute.