2017 Rare Beauties Extraordinary Gemstones $1 PNC

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Throughout history, gemstones have been used for personal adornment, ritual practices and as status symbols. During this time the cutting of gemstones has evolved from a limited practice using simple tools into a complex art that uses sophisticated technology to reveal a mineral’s hidden beauty. To be transformed into gemstones, minerals need the following qualities: hardness (resistance to scratches and general wear), beauty (colour, clarity and lustre) and rarity. The minerals must be large enough for cutting and the deposits rich enough to warrant the costs of extraction.

As well as widespread mineral deposits, Australia has so far provided more than 200 new minerals, discovered and named for the first time. Australia’s best-known gemstone is precious opal, which was officially designated the national gemstone in 1993. Around 95 per cent of the world’s opal comes from Australia and it is one of the few countries where precious black opal is found.