The two main types of gems are mineral (crystalline) gems and organic
gems, which may or may not form crystals.
The organic gems are
by biological processes and they include amber, corals, seashells,
pearls, anthracite, copal, and jet.
The mineral gems that
are formed by
inorganic processes include diamond, emerald, sapphire, ruby, opal,
aquamarine, turquoise, jadeite, peridot, tourmaline, topaz, garnet,
moonstone, sunstone, chrysoberyl, lazurite (lapis lazuli) and
While there are about 4000 minerals on the Earth, only 130ish are
gemstones, and only 50ish are those more known and often-used gems.
They are so rare because unusual conditions are required for their
formation. They have to be not only beautiful to be named gemstones,
but they also have to be hard enough to be able to be cut to make
jewelry. The names of
gemstones vary very much - some are called according to
name, such as tourmaline and chrysoberyl, others have got a different
name from their actual mineral name such as ruby, emerald and sapphire.
Collecting gemstones is at least as popular as is collecting rocks and
fact, I think it is more
popular than rock collecting, even though it's not my cup of tea. There
are many people out fossicking gemstones and selling them in local
shops and markets, where they excitedly talk about how they found them.
Many people who collect gemstones also make
sell it. A
nice hobby I think. Personally I am not into it because I don't get
excited about beautiful stones anymore - I like to find and collect
interesting stones - the rocks that tell me a story ;-)
Because gemstones are also minerals (they are one type of minerals -
the type that forms beautiful crystals), identifying gemstones
typically happens in the same way as mineral identification.
You have to check the crystal
(as with minerals, don't trust the colour only); transparency and lustre; cleavage and fracture; and hardness and
specific gravity (density).
People have always liked different gemstones to mean something, so gemstone
meanings is a popular subject. It is often thought that
ruby means love,
emerald means friendship,
agate means luck,
garnet means self-confidence,
amber means creativity,
opal means enthusiasm,
rose quartz means fertility
and aquamarine means stamina
(in fact, there are more gemstones involved in the big picture, and
they sometimes overlap.
Gemstones have also long been known for their healing properties. Crystal
healing has been used for thousands of years by
different peoples to
improve immune system,
heart, lungs, blood, eyes, throat, kidneys, liver, bones, cure
relieve stress and anxiety,
and filter unnecessary information to the brain. And crystal
meditation is becoming more and more popular.
Gemstones Information: Famous. By edgeplot via Flickr.com
Some famous gemstones through the history have been St Edward's Sapphire
(worn by the British Edward the Confessor about 1000 years ago), Black Prince's Ruby
- a Koh-i-Noor diamond that was given to the Black Prince in 1360s; and
the Hope Diamond
which was given to King Louis XIV in 1660s, was stolen during the
Revolution, resurfaced in 1800s and was bought by King George IV. After
his death it was bought by Henry Hope and others, and in 1900s it
gained a reputation to bring bad luck when a few of its owners were