The Earth has 92 naturally occurring elements -- things like iron, calcium and sulfur -- and they've had billions of years to mix and match. So you'd think there'd be an almost infinite number of minerals. But so far, geologists have only found about 4, You can see most of them at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.
Go past the Hope diamond, through a side door, and you'll find a vault-like room where the museum keeps some of its newest discoveries. The walls are lined with glass cases of full of huge, dramatic crystals. Curator Jeffrey Post says that they are worth tens of thousands of dollars. And the prices of these have gotten to be quite high," says Post. Those prices create a big incentive to find new minerals. And Post says that most amazing finds can make their first appearance at the Tucson show.
One example of is a deep raspberry pink mineral now known as pezzottaite. When it showed up at Tucson a couple years ago, it had just been unearthed in Madagascar.
The seller was promoting it as a new color variant of beryl, an old mineral. Then, during the meeting, people realized that it contained high levels of the rare element cesium. Everyone was thinking, 'Oh, a new mineral, great! This one did turn out to be new, and like all new minerals, it had to get the blessing of an international committee, known as the Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names.
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