Schungite is a Precambrian carbonaceous rock of organic origin, which had been found only in Russia, Karelia, Lake Onega area. Its name comes from the small village of Shunga where it was first discovered. Scientists estimate the age of shungite to be almost 2 billion years. Though it is similar in appearance to coal, it is found in very ancient layers of the Earth crust that were formed when there were no life forms on the Earth.
There are three basic types of shungite. Typical shungite, which comes from Zazhoginskaya mine in Karelia, contains about 30% of carbon, 57% of silicates and 13% of other minerals like aluminium, iron, manganese oxides and some others. This material has black color, matt surface, sometimes with visible inclusions of other minerals.
Another type is silver (or noble) shungite, which contains up to 98% of carbon. It has black color and metallic lustre. It comes in small quantities from Shunga village, and the small pockets of this shungite can be found occasionally in other parts of Karelia. But in general, it is a very rare type of shungite, and therefore, much more expensive.
The third type which contains from 70% to 80% of carbon is called Petrovsky shungite. People already used it more than 300 years ago, during the times of Russian Tzar Peter the Great, and this material can still be found, but in very limited quantities. Read the story about Petrovsky shungite here.
A very important property of shungite is its electric conductivity. It gives us a very simple method to tell the real shungite from any fakes or imitations. One needs a battery, a lamp and two wires. If you connect a battery to a lamp, and then touch a piece of shungite with wires, the lamp will flash.
In general schungite is amorphous substance, but there are elements of graphitic, diamond and fullerene internal structures. It is the fact that shungite contains fullerene molecules that makes this stone so unique and different from any other mineral. Fullerene is one of 4 known crystalline modifications of carbon (except diamond, graphite and carbon). It is the hollow ball-shaped molecules predominantly C60 and C70 . Only recently discovered, fullerenes were among the scientific sensations of the 20th century. Named after the great architect, Buckminster Fuller, this closed, hollow cage of 60 or more carbon atoms that form a fullerene molecule, resembles the geodesic domes popularized in his work. Fullerenes are found in very minute quantities in nature, usually formed by lightening charges. How they came to be present in the shungite mineral remains a mystery. Shungite is the only mineral known to contain fullerenes.
Shungite is also considered to be unique for its healing properties. It is said to eliminate and absorb all that imposes a hazard on people and living beings, but to concentrate and restore all that is helpful for a human being, and also to shield harmful electromagnetic radiation of any origin like computers, microwave ovens, TV sets, mobile phones and others. A pyramid made of shungite is believed to protect human energy field and reduce stress, headache and insomnia.