Some people believe gems have almost magical, otherworldly healing powers; they are convinced that their color, shape and type ward off evil or attract love. Ever since humans first dug up precious crystals out of the dirt, they have astounded and inspired us with their trippy colors and mesmerizing striations. And today gems continue to have a strong appeal, with the wealthy still paying through the nose for the best of them. But some minerals appear more out-of-this-world and awesomely alien than others. Here, we give you 20 inspiring and impressive gemstones that look like they come from another galaxy.
20. Multi-Colored Fluorite
The term fluorescence stems from fluorite. You can see why. The alien-looking mineral comes in a broad swathe of colors: yellow, purple, green, blue. A lot of them happen to be visible on this fantastically rainbow-infused rock. Its unique coloration is regulated by radiation or extra “impure” chemicals in its structural composition.
This manganese-based gem literally rocks with its striking lollypop reddish pink color. Likewise, it looks tasty and edible, like a kind of rocky fruit or Turkish delight. Beholding this unusual hue, it’s perhaps not surprising to hear that crystal enthusiasts claim it emits a sense of love and heals the lovelorn. In fact, rhodochrosite translates from Greek as “pinkish colored!”
Bedazzling bismuth is technically referred to as a “chemical element.” And this particular example was cultivated in a lab – although it may also appear in nature. The spectacularly spacey and metallic colors develop when oxygen initially interacts with bismuth on its surface. Looks a bit like an extra terrestrial communication device, doesn’t it?
17. Contraluz Opal
It’s impossible to properly experience this amazing Contraluz opal without the right lighting set-up. It’s not like an ordinary opal, and it certainly looks like something out of the movie Interstellar. While lighting it from the front – that is, the direction you’re looking from – reveals the magic in standard opals, the Contraluz is unusual in that it displays its splendor via backlighting. The clue’s in the name.
16. Fire Opal
Here’s another opal that’s equally true to its name. The fire opal is formed from fiery lava. When water splashes over lava that is rife with silica, turning it into a hardened curd (pretty quickly, we’d imagine) it results in the creation of this hunk of burning love. It originated long ago in Mexico and is often thought of as an emblem of passionate desire.
15. Raw Bismuth
This deadly rock appears once again on our list – this time, in its raw form. If ingested, the sometimes-lethal but fantastical gem could cause serious problems for your kidneys, lungs and liver. But why would you consume it, you ask? Well, surprisingly, bismuth can also, in the right formulation, be used as a medicine for ailments as benign as a stomach ache. (It’s actually the main ingredient in Pepto-Bismol.)
Fluorite comes in a number of different shades: white, blue, pink, red, orange, yellow, brown, black, green, gray… Purple fluorite – like the gem above – comes into existence when the fluorite structure is lacking a negative ion. Crystal aficionados believe purple fluorite promotes a meditative state and “spiritual wholeness.” Indeed, this groovy-looking cosmic gem does give off some pretty out-there vibes.
13. Botswana Agate
This type of agate, of the quartz grouping, is nicknamed the “sunset stone” because it holds sunshine in and acts much like a natural night light. It’s excavated in Botswana, Africa and is used there during rituals to promote reproductive prowess. In addition, the groove down the middle, known as its eye, is said to fend off the “evil eye.”
12. Boulder Opal
What you see in this picture is not a nascent life form from an outer galaxy waiting to hatch into existence. Rather, this surreal-looking, egg-like stone is a blend of ironstone (a natural rock made from iron) and opal (the iridescent crystal shining through it). Despite its beauty, though, this is one the cheapest forms of opal money can buy!
This massive rock weighs an excess 50 pounds – about the same weight as four bowling balls! It’s called heterogenite, and its dark bubble structures are formed when cobalt – an element used as the base for certain blue paints – interacts with oxygen. This particular gem, found in Africa, is a favorite among some mineralogists because of its sheer size.
10. Jasper Opal
What looks like stardust coursing through a galaxy in this rock is actually a reaction to jasper, a quartz variation. The creation of this opal – another of the Contraluz ilk – is dependent on silica, broken down in water, flowing onto the rocks. This particular gem – and a dreamy one it is – turned up in Oregon.
9. Andamooka Opal
In the 1930s, two Australian explorers sought refuge from a rain storm beneath a tree when they saw a glittering green rock: an opal. Named after the aforementioned locale, the Andamooka opal resembles Superman’s scourge, kryptonite – and is just as powerful. Likewise, the spectacular-looking gem has been dubbed “Queen’s Opal,” as it’s the centerpiece of one of Queen Elizabeth II’s necklaces.
8. Raw Fire Opal
This fire opal resembles a bursting soon-to-be-extinct faraway planet. It still has its lava casing, which looks like a frame for a much-adored treasure. In this vein, back in the 1960s and 1970s there was something akin to a Goldrush – but for coveted fire opals – in Quéretaro, Mexico. And, apparently, thousands of miners dug up bags and bags of fire opals like this one!
7. Pyrite on Quartz
No, it’s not gold. This is what they call Fool’s Gold because it looks so much like the precious metal. Gold, unfortunately, never forms perfect cubes like this. And, far from being pricelss, pyrite is made up of iron and sulphur. Nevertheless, it’s beautiful, and it’s sitting on a bed of almost icicle-like quartz.
Ammolite could be called the gemstone cousin of ammonite – an extinct sea creature. Likewise, it’s an aesthetic intricate-looking miracle of nature. Ammolite’s formation is contingent on aragonite – a crystal naturally seen in ammonite shells. There are a handful of examples of this sort of thing found in nature, pearls and amber among them. This particular ammolite comes from Canada.
This is probably one of the best examples of azurite you’ll ever see. In the amazing specimen here, the blue copper material has spread out like petals on a flower – and makes it look like a breathtaking blue rose! It therefore may not be surprising to hear that artists from the Middle Ages used azurite as blue pigment for their paintings.
This complicated looking gem conjures up an out-of-this-world dream come true – or a nightmare – depending on your persuasion. Acanthite, as it’s called, is not terribly uncommon. Partly made of silver, and the chalcopyrite that covers it, the rock is generally found in Mexico.
This amazing gemstone’s hue can change depending on the quality of light that’s bathing it. Under natural daytime lighting or a fluorescent bulb it shines green, but under dim or candlelit conditions it looks purply-red, like this one. Alexandrite is classified as “rare” and of high worth. It was first unearthed in the 19th century in the Ural mountain range in Russia and gets its moniker from Czar Alexander II.
2. Koroit Opal
The different opals in this gem look like mini encapsulated universes. Eugene McDevitt, an opal miner in Koroit in Australia, dug up this particular “nut,” as he calls it. And the prolific mines in Koroit produce opals that you won’t see anywhere else, if his account is anything to go by. We like to fantasize that it’s a mini-Star Wars set!
A stellar sea swell seems to flow over the tops of rock pools in this gorgeous gemstone sample. Meanwhile, in the distance the sun breaks over the hills, creating an orange arc around it. While the pretty “picture” may resemble the spacey seaside area in the sci-fi movie Contact, in actuality this is a common agate rock from Scotland.