Written by Staff Writer
Editor’s Note — This story originally appeared on www.alexandra-gingerburg.com
Like many others, my parents got a diamond ring for Christmas as a teenager — but my husband and I got the shock of our lives when I saw it the next day. Instead of a ring, the new jewelry was a 2.5 billion-year-old ruby.
It wasn’t the rock, it was the stone.
According to CNN’s science correspondent Lisa Desjardins, this 2.5 billion-year-old gem was “surprisingly soft” and “so primitive.”
The giant stones have been unearthed at the site of the earliest known city in the world. Its site, in Guangdong Province, China, goes back almost 1 billion years.
At the time of this discovery, this was the world’s oldest gold jewel of a gem, according to Xi Yuanqi, curator of Precious Metal at the China Academy of Sciences.
New discovery…and some skeptics
In this photo provided by the China Academy of Sciences, a 2.5 billion-year-old ruby is seen. China Academy of Sciences/Handout via REUTERS
We spoke to Xi Yuanqi about the discovery of the newly found ruby to find out more about the size and shape of the stone.
“We have 8 million facets, and it is about 6 centimeters long,” he said.
“There is an internal crystal which forms when the diamond is cut, and that is very important,” he continued. “That crystal is essentially old diamond, so a very old mineral structure.”
Xi said it could have been used for jewelry, but it also appears in paintings of ancient Chinese warriors.
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The ruby was found in 2012 by an Italian team who were exploring ancient cave art in the 3.2-billion-year-old Chauvet Cave in southern France.
The rock apparently came to light after it was identified in a microscopic color structure by the team led by Italy’s Alessandro Forino in the International Journal of Paleontology.
The stone was first discovered in 2012 by an Italian team which is part of the international team that discovered the earliest known city in the world. Courtesy CNA/ UNESCO
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This is the third stone of its kind to be discovered in the same cave and the fourth fossilized gemstone.
“It is the first example of ancient gemstone anywhere in the world,” said Xi.
The team says this is the third stone of its kind to be discovered in the same cave. Courtesy CNA/ UNESCO
So, what is the age of the ruby, and how are they saying this isn’t the oldest ruby of its kind, but the 2.5 billion-year-old gemstone?
“By the standard of the present-day world, the stone is older than the other known gemstones,” Xi added.
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When does the stone look old? By the standard of the present-day world, the stone is older than the other known gemstones. The diamond unearthed at this site was found at the time of this discovery.
“[The stone] has a very small surface area because it is not bright, and by most conventional criteria it is not a natural stone that looks ‘old,'” Xi said.
The geologists are still trying to determine the exact age of the stone by extracting sediment from it.