Category: Science

Happy birthday, May babies!

There’s a perfectly good reason you May babies are making the rest of us green with envy: your birthstone is the emerald.

Emeralds are the vibrant green form of the mineral beryl, given its colour by chromium or vanadium.  They are fairly strong, rating a 7.5 – 8 on the Mohs hardness scale.  While hard, though, emeralds can be brittle.  Most emeralds have some inclusions or imperfections, which dealers call the gem’s “jardin” (French for garden).  An oil treatment is often used to fill surface cracks, improve transparency, and help prevent an emerald from chipping.

The first known emerald mines were near the Red Sea in Egypt.  Cleopatra was well known for her love of emeralds.  These days, Colombia and Zambia are the highest and second-highest producers of emeralds.

One of the “big four” gemstones, emeralds have long been popular and valuable.  One of the world’s largest emeralds is the “Mogul Emerald”, weighing in at 217 carats and stands around 10cm tall.  Dating from 1695, this emerald tablet is inscribed with a flowing floral pattern on one side and a prayer on the other.  And much more recent, who could forget Elizabeth Taylor’s amazing Bulgari set of emerald jewellery?

Elizabeth Taylor in her Bulgari emerald necklace and earrings


Turning Toxic Water into Gold

Looking to turn lead into gold?

Ok, we haven’t gone that far, but scientists have found bacteria that (sort of) makes gold!

Tiny bits of gold!

Gold chloride is a toxic byproduct of mining. Delftia acidovorans and Cupriavidus metallidurans are 2 species that have developed a resistance to the heavy metal toxin. They eat the toxic mix and poop out 24k gold.

Bio-lab/art piece “The Great Work of the Metal Lover" featuring gold producing bacteria
Bio-lab/art piece “The Great Work of the Metal Lover” featuring gold-producing bacteria

Is it going to change the gold market? Probably not, the toxic feed is still costly, and it’s not like artificially created gemstones have stopped the demand for naturally occurring stones. There is, however, talk of using the bacteria to help extract gold out of the mining waste, thereby reducing or eliminating the toxic byproduct, or even using the bacteria’s presence to test soil samples and find the best place for future mining.

gold bracelet
So we can make you more pretty things like this!

All in all, it’s a pretty cool discovery with positive environmental application potential, and a little extra shimmer.

Looking for your own bit of gold? Visit us here, or invite us over for your very own Fabulous Home Party!

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