The mineral is widely known for its extreme hardness and for the fact that it is sometimes found as beautiful transparent crystals in many different colors. The extreme hardness makes corundum an excellent abrasive, and when that hardness is found in beautiful crystals, you have the perfect material for cutting gemstones.
Natural and synthetic corundum are used in a wide variety of industrial applications because of their toughness, hardness, and chemical stability. They are used to make industrial bearings, scratch-resistant windows for electronic instruments, wafers for circuit boards, and many other products.
Corundum is a crystalline form of aluminium oxide (Al2O3) with traces of iron, titanium and chromium. It is a rock-forming mineral. It is one of the naturally transparent materials, but can have different colors when impurities are present. Transparent specimens are used as gems, called ruby if red and padparadscha if pink-orange. All other colors are called sapphire, e.g., green sapphire for a green specimen.
The name corundum is derived from Tamil word Kuruvindam or Sanskrit word Kuruvinda meaning ruby.
In the gemstone and jewelry market, almost all of the attention goes to a small group of gems known as the big four: diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald. Two of these, ruby and sapphire, are gem corundums.
Corundum has many other uses. It is chemically inert and resistant to heat. These properties make it a perfect material for making refractory products such as fire brick, kiln liners, and kiln furniture. Today, these products are usually made with synthetic corundum.
Pure corundum is colorless, transparent, durable, and scratch resistant. Large crystals of clear synthetic corundum are grown, sawn into thin sheets, and then used as the windows of grocery store scanners, watch crystals, aircraft windows, and protective covers for electronic devices.
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