The hardness of a mineral is measured by its ability to scratch or be scratched by another mineral. From the softest, talc, to the hardest, diamond, all minerals fit into what is referred to as the Mohs scale. Let’s take a look at the ten hardest mineral in the world.
Talc is the least hardest mineral in the world and is most familiar to us as talcum powder. Made up of hydrate magnesium silicate, this mineral is so soft it can be scratched by a nail or easily cut by a knife. Talc is used most often in cosmetics but can also be found in the manufacturing of paper, paint, rubber and ceramics. Soapstone is a kind of talc that is used often in carvings.
Gypsum is made up of calcium sulfate dehydrate. It is washed up onto dry land from the salt water and lakes and can also be found in volcanic vapor. Because this member of the hardest mineral in the world is so easily dissolved in water, you won’t find it in sand form. Plaster of paris, alabaster and cement all depend on Gypsum in their manufacture. Tofu and fertilizer also contain this mineral, making it a very versatile one.
Calcite is calcium carbonate. This mineral is one of the most common on Earth and is often used in the form of limestone. When you visit caves with stalactites and stalagmites, you are seeing Calcite. This mineral can range in color from completely clear to completely opaque and comes in a wide variety of colors. It can also be multicolored or have bands of a different color than the main one. Many important medications use this mineral and it is also used in marble. The clear version found in Iceland has often been used in things like microscopes.
Fluorite comes in a rainbow of colors and is often used to make jewelry and other ornaments. One thing this mineral is known for is that it is fluorescent. The element fluorine can be obtained in large quantities from this mineral and it is often sought for just that purpose. It is also used to eliminate impurities in the manufacture of steel and other metals. By far the most important use of Fluorite is in the field of optics. This mineral may be one of the most important of the hardest mineral of the world as is extremely important in the making of special lenses.
Apatite ends the first half of our list of hardest mineral in the world. This is the most common of the phosphate minerals. It resembles so many other minerals that its name was derived from the Greek word apate, which means deceit. This mineral is made up of the same thing both animal and human bones and teeth are made from, calcium phosphate. Apatite is mostly used in the making of medications and in other chemical endeavors.
5. Orthoclase Feldspar
Often simply called Feldspar, this mineral starts the second half of our list on the way to the hardest mineral in the world. This mineral comes in two different forms, depending on whether it was formed at a high temperature, known as sanidine, or at a cool temperature, which is known as microline. The first is most often found in Germany and the latter in Switzerland. Used mainly in the manufacture of glass and ceramics, a beautiful version of this mineral, called Moonstone, is very popular in jewelry.
Quartz is probably the most recognized of the minerals, next to diamonds. It is the second most abundant on this planet, and fourth hardest mineral in the world. This is also the mineral with the largest variety of forms and colors. Many varieties, such as amethyst, are used extensively in jewelry because of the abundance of quartz as well as it’s rainbow of colors. When you open a geode, you are likely to find quartz lining the inside. Besides jewelry, quartz is used in the electronics industry and in computers. It is also ground down to form an abrasive for grinding glass and other gemstones. Quartz has also gained the reputation of bringing good luck and is used in many New Age rituals.
This mineral is most often yellow, but can also be reddish-grey or blue-brown. When heated, this mineral can become a variety of colors, like the blue that is most popular. At this time, the largest amounts are found in Brazil, but it can be found in many of the warmer climates. Topaz is used in the making of jewelry and has even gained popularity over the diamond in many instances because of it’s color variety and abundance.
Corundum is the crystallized form of aluminum oxide. It also carries traces of iron, chromium and titanium. This is what makes it the second hardest mineral in the world. While it is most often colorless, it does come in both red and blue, and is more commonly known then as ruby or sapphire. Emery is another form of this mineral. This is one mineral that is not changed by acid. Because of its hardness, Corundum makes an excellent abrasive. While this mineral has some electrical uses, it is most often found in jewelry.
The diamond is the hardest mineral in the world and can be cut only by another diamond or a diamond saw. Diamonds are a natural conductor of heat and hold the spot as having the highest melting point of all the minerals. In spite of its value in the use of jewellery, only twenty percent of all diamonds mined receive that honor. The rest are used as abrasives or in thermal conductors, optics and some electronics. Diamonds do come in other colors than clear, but these are extremely rare.