Minerals have a broad range so much so that they have their own discipline of study called mineralogy. These essential elements often have complex processes that lead to their formation.


Saltpeter, the common name for potassium nitrate, a white, crystalline solid composed of potassium, nitrogen, and oxygen.

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  • Everyday Science: Diamond Quiz

    Everyday Science: Diamond Quiz

    A famous slogan claims that a diamond is forever. While these precious stones symbolize love and glamour for millions of couples, there's a lot about nature's most famous jewel you might not know. See more »

  • How are crystals made?

    How are crystals made?

    From the Hope diamond to the shiny bits in instant coffee, crystals have always held the power to fascinate us humans. Are they more than just a bunch of pretty facets? See more »

  • How Diamonds Work

    How Diamonds Work

    Diamond engagement rings. Diamond anniversary bands. Diamond earrings and necklaces. And now, the right-hand diamond ring! The four Cs -- cut, clarity, carat and color. Find out what the fuss is all about. See more »

  • How Moissanite Jewels Work

    How Moissanite Jewels Work

    Diamonds are beautiful and popular - but not everyone can afford these gems. While man-made versions are less expensive, most lack the luster and brilliance of the real thing, except moissanite. See how it compares! See more »

  • Name the Price: Gemstone Quiz

    Name the Price: Gemstone Quiz

    The world of famous gemstones is a strange one. If we had a nickel for every gargantuan, mystery-shrouded, supposedly cursed ruby or diamond, we'd have enough money to buy one of them. See more »

  • What are the "four Cs" that people talk about when buying a diamond?

    What are the "four Cs" that people talk about when buying a diamond?

    Whenever I hear people talking about buying diamonds, they keep mentioning the four seas. What does that have to do with diamonds? See more »

  • The Ultimate Asbestos Quiz

    The Ultimate Asbestos Quiz

    Asbestos, once seen as a miracle construction material and used ubiquitously, has been found to be a deadly and unwanted substance. It is now clear that asbestos exposure places you at risk for a variety of respiratory illnesses. Is asbestos a friend or foe? Take this quiz and learn more about asbestos. See more »

  • Alabaster


    Alabaster, True alabaster is a soft, fine-grained form of gypsum (calcium sulfate) that is easily carved. See more »

  • Asbestos


    Asbestos, a name applied to several minerals from which flexible, heat-resistant fibers are obtained. See more »

  • Gypsum


    Gypsum, a soft, white mineral consisting of calcium, sulfur, and water. Gypsum is found in thick beds deposited by ancient seas. See more »

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