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corundum (kərŭnˈdəm) [key], mineral, aluminum oxide, Al2O3. The clear varieties are used as gems and the opaque as abrasive materials. Corundum occurs in crystals of the hexagonal system and in masses. It is transparent to opaque and has a vitreous to adamantine luster. The transparent gem varieties are colorless, pink, red, blue, green, yellow, and violet; the common varieties are blue-gray to brown. Emery is a common corundum, used as an abrasive and distinguished by its impurities of magnetite and hematite. The chief corundum gems are the ruby (red) and the sapphire (blue). Yellow, pink, green, and white stones are also called yellow, pink, green, and white sapphires. Corundum gems are also made synthetically. The chief sources of natural corundum are Myanmar, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Republic of South Africa, Tanzania, and the United States (North Carolina, Georgia, and Montana). Most of the emery is mined in Naxos and the other Cyclades and in Asia Minor.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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