Baffin Island holds some of its treasures in plain sight with rocks that produce rare gems sitting exposed to the elements, scientists say. A new study from the University of British Columbia shows the area is home to a mineral that is prized by jewelers and collectors.
Study co-author Philippe Belley said in an interview that cobalt-blue spinel, "which is a ridiculously rare gemstone" gets a lot of interest from gemologists and jewelers but there's not enough supply.
The most significant source of the gems is Vietnam, and even then production is limited, said Belley, who's a PhD graduate within the department of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences.
He and report co-author UBC mineralogist Lee Groat conducted the first scientific study of the cobalt-blue spinel in Canada. Baffin Island is "really unique" because it has all the "right ingredients" needed to produce colored gemstones but the area is "virtually" unexplored, Belley said.
"The rock is extremely well exposed so not only is it easy to see if you have a gem occurrence by just walking on the surface and doing geological mapping, but its also suitable for remote detection methods using drones and satellites to collect data on the rocks."...