Have you ever heard of carmeltazite? Don’t feel badly if you haven’t. This is a new mineral and until recently was thought to exist only in space. Several months ago, however, it was discovered in Israel. The mineral is exceptionally rare and beautiful. According to Forbes it also has the potential to become more valuable than diamonds.
Shefa Gems, an Israeli mining firm based near Haifa, discovered a deposit in the Zevulun Valley in northern Israel. Abraham Taub, the company’s CEO, named the new stone “carmeltazite,” in honor of Mt. Carmel, the mountain where it was found, and the three metals contained in it: titanium, aluminum, and zirconium.
According to the company, carmeltazite bears a close resemblance to sapphires and rubies in its composition, a point that has grabbed the attention of both the jewelry industry and investment community. These characteristics, coupled with the facts that it has a higher density than diamonds and also is even rarer.
But carmeltazite also resembles allendeite, an even rarer mineral. Allendeite comes from space, and the only known location on Earth is on the Allende Meteorite, which fell on Feb. 8, 1969. This makes Shefa Gems’s discovery of significant geological importance, too.
Most Expensive Stone?
One photo of carmeltazite is of a dark blue stone, with patches of medium blue in some areas, light blue in others, and the entire stone streaked with blazing white. The combination of these colors is magnificent.
This gemstone, however, has also been found in other color combinations, including black to blue-green, and orange-brown with some metallic luster. The largest stone found so far was 33.3 carats.
The International Mineralogical Association compiles an official list of new minerals that are discovered, and approximately 100 new substances are added each year. Most of these are filed and forgotten, with nothing of particular interest in terms of their beauty, rarity, or market value.
But carmeltazite stands apart from this crowd. Shefa Gems has trademarked the mineral with the formal name “Carmel Sapphire,” and according to sources in the jewelry industry it has potential to become one of the most valuable gems in the world.
A Rocky Start
Geologists offer explanations about how everything above and below the surface of the Earth came into existence, including rare stones. They believe these were formed 18 miles below ground, in an area where the Earth’s crust meets the mantle.
There, the very high pressures from all the formations above, combined with the very high heat in that part of the Earth, create partially molten rocks. It’s said that over time some of those molten rocks release fluids that form new minerals like carmeltazite. Geologists add that those minerals can quickly make their way to the surface of the Earth through what’s called volcanic vents and form gemstone deposits, such as the one being developed by Shefa Gems in the Zevulun Valley.
Shefa Gems was doing extensive work in this area exploring for diamonds and sapphires when they found carmeltazite. The Zevulun Valley has at least 14 volcanic vents, which makes the area highly prospective for potentially hidden gemstones.
Carmeltazite is one of those, and as more of these gems are found and become available for commercial sale, increased interest in this could soar. It’s already quite expensive; independent experts say a carat is valued at up to $10,000. The company commissioned one of the top jewelry designers in the world, who has created a line of bracelets, necklaces, rings, and related items
Before mining for resources, exploration companies have to do a variety of geologic studies, surveys, and other preparatory work. Shefa Gems got its start in a very different way: from a comment made by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l, zy”a.
This story starts back in 1988, when Aryeh Goral, the then mayor of Haifa, came to New York and paid a courtesy call to the Rebbe in Crown Heights. Goral proudly told him about the progress the city had made in improving relations with the Arabs.
But the Rebbe steered the conversation in an entirely different direction by quoting from Devarim (Deuteronomy) 33, verses 18-19. Those verses talk about secret treasures hidden in the depths of the sand in what is now the area around Haifa.
“There are many precious stones that G-d hid in the depth of the ground...” the pasuk says. The Rebbe then cited the Me’am Loez, a well-known commentary, which explains that the phrase “precious stones” refers to diamonds. The Rebbe said very specifically that precious stones would be found both offshore and in the valley near Haifa.
Did You Say Diamonds?
Mayor Goral was taken aback. After all, Haifa is best known as a major seaport. There was nothing even remotely similar to mining in the city’s ongoing activities, nor in its long-range plans. Moreover, there were no records of mining ventures of any kind that had been done in this area in the past.
But those who knew of the Rebbe’s insight were certain there were diamonds and other precious stones in the Haifa area. Followers, some chasidim, formed Shefa Gems to discover these precious minerals.
The company was founded in 1999 but, as with many exploration firms, putting together a management team, raising funds, and getting permits can be quite time-consuming. Initially progress had been slow. However, activities have been increasing steadily in recent years. The company has drilled 137 holes, piled 14 bulk samples, and recovered more than 10,000 carats of minerals – pretty exciting since experts stated flat out that there were no gems of any kind in that region.
The company completed its initial public offering in 2017 under the name of Shefa Yamim, Abundance of the Seas, but their name was recently changed to Shefa Gems. Chairman Michael Rosenberg recently predicted that a mining license would be granted in the coming months and that the company could begin to generate a steady stream of revenues from mining carmeltazite, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and other minerals as soon as next year. For Shefa Gems, it looks as if a brilliant road lies ahead.
Shefa Yamim Uniquely Placed as it Looks Forward to Near Term Production and Revenues: You Tube; Shefa Yamim More Advanced And In Stronger Position As It Looks To Further Exploration: You Tube