By Michelle Graff
The picture on the left shows one of the diamonds that contains the newly discovered mineral that’s been named crowningshieldite, in honor of gemologist G. Robert Crowningshield; the mineral is in the area circle in red. The right image is an enlarged view of crowningshieldite as seen in a fine-grained mixture with other minerals. (Photo credits: Evan M. Smith, left image, and Fabrizio Nestola, right image)
Carlsbad, Calif.—Researchers at the Gemological Institute of America have discovered a new mineral and named it in honor of a famous gemologist.

Evan M. Smith revealed the discovery of the nickel sulfide mineral now known as crowningshieldite—named for G. Robert Crowningshield, who led gemological research at GIA for more than five decades—during his presentation Monday afternoon at the GIA Symposium 2018.

Smith is the research scientist whose findings on the origin of Type IIa “CLIPPIR” diamonds—diamonds that are Cullinan-like, large, inclusion poor, pure, irregular in shape and with resorbed surfaces—and Type IIb (blue diamonds) landed him and his team cover stories in two prestigious publications.

His CLIPPIR diamond research was profiled in Science magazine last year, and his revelations about blue diamonds were featured in the August 2018 issue of scientific journal Nature.

As he explained during his Symposium presentation, both CLIPPIR and Type IIb stones form deeper in the earth than other diamonds, dispelling the long-held theory that diamonds that come from deep in the earth are generally small, low-quality stones.

It was during an examination of CLIPPIR diamonds specifically that Smith, along with researchers from the University of Padova, stumbled across the new mineral; it was found as an altered inclusion in two diamonds from Letšeng in Lesotho, a mine that regularly produces large white diamonds.

Crowningshieldite is a nickel sulfide mineral with a hexagonal crystal structure and can be regarded as the high-temperature polymorph of the mineral millerite.

The International Mineralogical Association accepted it as a new mineral on Sept. 18, GIA said. The IMA is comprised of 40 national organizations and works to promote the science of mineralogy as well as to standardize nomenclature for all known mineral species.

The GIA Symposium took place Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in Carlsbad, California.

The 2018 event marked the sixth time GIA has held a symposium. The last one took place in 2011, though GIA CEO Susan Jacques hinted Tuesday while closing the event that the organization might not wait seven years to hold another.

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