In 2005, The Guinness Book of World Records called painite the world’s rarest gemstone mineral. First discovered in Myanmar by British mineralogist Arthur C. D. Pain in the 1950s, for decades there were only two known crystals of the hexagonal mineral on Earth; by 2005, there were still fewer than 25 known specimens.
Today, painite isn’t as rare as it used to be. According to Caltech’s division of geological and planetary sciences, the identification of a new painite repository in Myanmar, “the recent discovery of the actual source of the original stones,” and “the subsequent discovery of two major new localities in the Mogok area” have all led to the recovery of several thousand crystals and fragments, but painite nevertheless ranks among the rarest minerals on Earth. [Photo Credit: Rob Lavinsky