This mineral is made up primarily of only one element—bismuth—and is therefore known as a native element. Bismuth (Bi), with an atomic number of 83 on the periodic chart, is the heaviest element that is stable and non-radioactive. Bismuth crystal, with its unusual structural formation, often resembling a temple or a ziggurat, does not occur in nature. They have to be grown from molten bismuth in a laboratory under controlled conditions. As the bismuth cools, the atoms arrange themselves in this interesting crystal lattice. The iridescent coloration of the bismuth crystal is caused by natural oxidation. Bismuth is used commercially in medicines, pigments, and low-melting-point alloys. This particular specimen finds its origins in Europe. The incredible variety of color and structural variation means no two bismuth will ever look exactly alike, and the exciting appearance of the crystal is sure to spark imagination and enthusiasm. Makes an excellent gift for children and adults alike, and makes an excellent addition to any geology instructor's mineral collection.
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