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Painite from Myanmar, 2 cm long
CategoryBorate minerals
(repeating unit)
Strunz classification6.AB.85
Dana classification7.5.2.1
Crystal systemHexagonal[1]
Crystal classDipyramidal (6/m)
(same H-M symbol), although earlier reported as hexagonal (6)[2]
Space groupP63/m
Unit cella = 8.72 Å,
c = 8.46 Å; Z = 2
ColorRed, brownish, orange-red
Crystal habitElongated crystals, pseudo-orthorhombic[3][2]
Mohs scale hardness8
Specific gravity4.01
Optical propertiesUniaxial (-)
Refractive indexno = 1.8159, ne = 1.7875[3]
PleochroismRuby-red parallel to [0001]; pale brownish orange or pale red-orange at right angles to [0001]
Melting point2094[ambiguous][citation needed]
SolubilityInsoluble in acids[3]

Painite is a very rare borate mineral. It was first found in Myanmar by British mineralogist and gem dealer Arthur C.D. Pain who misidentified it as ruby, until it was discovered as a new gemstone in the 1950s. When it was confirmed as a new mineral species, the mineral was named after him.[2] Due to its rarity, painite can cost in the range of between US$50,000 to $60,000 per carat.

The chemical makeup of painite contains calcium, zirconium, boron, aluminium and oxygen (CaZrAl9O15(BO3)). The mineral also contains trace amounts of chromium and vanadium, which are responsible for Painite's typically orange-red to brownish-red color,[1][6] similar to topaz. The mineral's rarity is due to the fact that zirconium and boron rarely interact with each other in nature. The crystals are naturally hexagonal in shape, and, until late 2004, only two had been cut into faceted gemstones.[7]

Discovery and occurrence[edit]

Extensive exploration in the area surrounding Mogok, which comprises a large part of the extremely small region the mineral is known to exist in, has identified several new painite occurrences that have been vigorously explored resulting in several thousand new available painite specimens.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b T Armbruster; N Dobelin; A Peretti; D Gunther; E Reusser; B Grobety (2004). "The crystal structure of painite CaZrB(Al9O18) revisited" (PDF). American Mineralogist. 89 (4): 610–613. Bibcode:2004AmMin..89..610A. doi:10.2138/am-2004-0415. S2CID 53848992. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2012-05-28.
  2. ^ a b c d Anthony, John W.; Bideaux, Richard A.; Bladh, Kenneth W.; Nichols, Monte C., eds. (2003). "Paynite". Handbook of Mineralogy (PDF). V (Borates, Carbonates, Sulfates). Chantilly, VA, US: Mineralogical Society of America. ISBN 0962209740. Retrieved December 5, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b c Claringbull GF, Hey MH, Payne CJ (1957). "Painite, a New Mineral from Mogok, Burma". Mineralogical Magazine. 31 (236): 420–5. Bibcode:1957MinM...31..420C. doi:10.1180/minmag.1957.031.236.11.
  4. ^ Painite. Webmineral. Retrieved on 2012-05-28.
  5. ^ Painite. Retrieved on 2012-05-28.
  6. ^ a b Painite history at Caltech. Retrieved on 2012-05-28.
  7. ^ Ten gemstones that are rarer than diamond.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Painite at Wikimedia Commons