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Hidden treasure of the Urals

­Gemstones from Russia’s Ural Mountains have fueled many fairytales and legends. But now, beautiful tales are all that's left of the once-rich gemstone mines, with most precious stones now imported to the region from abroad.

First accounts of rich precious stone deposits in the area are date back to late seventeenth and early eighteenth century. For several centuries, regional capital Yekaterinburg took advantage of the mineral wealth of the Urals.

Ural gemstones are surrounded by mystery stories and beautiful legends. The most famous is one about the Mistress of Copper Mountain, who hides precious stones in the entrails of the Earth.

But in the twentieth century, local industry focused on mining metals like beryllium, which has nearly put an end to the production of malachite, emerald and other gemstones in the area.

The region, however, still has craftsmen that spend their working lives creating masterpieces from precious stones.

There are still thought to be enormous deposits of gems within the Urals. Maybe one day Yekaterinburg will regain its fame as the gemstone capital of Russia.