Humans have long been fascinated by semi-precious and precious stones, finding uses for them from the superficial (adornment) to the scientific (surgery). Some stones are more precious than others due to the limited quanitities as well as how high quality each specimen is, and contrary to popular use, diamonds are not the most precious or sought after stone. One of the newest discoveries in the gem world is named after its discoverer, Adrian Pain. Painite was found in Myanmar in the late 1950’s, but there were only two specimens. It took nearly a half century of work to discover the source. Even with the several thousand painite crystals that have been uncovered, the ones that have been cut are few, and thereby hefty in price.
Part of the reason painite is so costly is that it can only be found in the Mogok region in Myanmar. With just one location in a place not widely accessible, there are only a certain number of stones available at a time. The gem itself is precious because it consists of two elements that are rarely seen together, boron and zirconium. There are no other stones in the world that carry this combination, even if some have a similar coloring due to impurities found in the stone’s makeup.
With the ease of selling online, you can pick up some smaller, lesser quality stones for under $100, or a low quality cut stone for around $100. However, if you’d rather do some excavating yourself with the hope of uncovering larger crystals (weighed using the traditional system of the ‘carat’ which is roughly equal to .2 grams), you’ll have to either book passage or find a company to join or fund. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll find some high quality stones, which can net around $60,000 per carat.
Of course, there are easier places to access and many people have fun mining for smaller, semi-precious stones and can even make some money on the side.
Interested in reading more about painite, crystals, mining, or new gem discoveries? You can start by going to the Geology In site.