Graphite from the Sterling Mine, near Ogdensburg, New Jersey. A great example of natural crystalline Carbon, and the most stable form of Carbon found naturally.

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Graphite has a hardness of 1-2 and a specific gravity of 2.09-2.23. First named “Plumbago” in 1739 by Magnus von Bromell, and then called “molybdaena” by Carl Wilhem Scheel in 1781, it was finally named Graphite in 1789 by Abraham Gottlob Werner from the Greek “graphein” for “to write”.

According to Mindat, Graphite “usually occurs in flakes in metamorphosed rocks rich in carbon, but it can also be found in veins and in pegmatites. Where large deposits are found, it is mined and used as an industrial lubricant and for ‘lead’ in pencils. The crystallinity depends on the temperature of the formation and the grade of metamorphism.”

Nearly 1.3 million metric tons were mined last year for pencils, lubricants, electrodes, crucibles, nonautomotive brakes, and for so many more purposes, and was first found to have been mined and used as paint for pottery nearly 6,000 years ago.

While it’s been found in a couple thousand locations worldwide on every continent and around 24 locations within Colorado alone, it’s not the most prized or valuable rock you could stumble upon, but keep your eyes out for a rock like this and you’ll be able to write with your own natural pencil, or keep it on your shelf in your collection as a perfect Carbon sample.


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