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Turquoise
Turquoise
 
Crystal Quartz
Crystal Quartz
 
Rose Quartz
Rose Quartz
 
Peridot
Peridot
 
Green Jade
Green Jade
 
Goldon Topaz
Goldon Topaz
 
Tiger Eye
Tiger Eye
 
Lapis Lazuli
Lapis Lazuli
 
Carnelian
Carnelian
 
Malachite
Malachite
 
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Sunstone
 
Amethyst
Amethyst
 
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Coral
 
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Semi-precious stones

Gemstones


A gemstone or gem (also called a precious or semi-precious stone, or jewel) is a piece of attractive mineral, which—when cut and polished—is used to make jewelry or other adornments. However certain rocks, (such as lapis-lazuli) and organic materials (such as amber or jet) are not minerals, but are still used for jewelry, and are therefore often considered to be gemstones as well. Most semi precious stones or gemstones are hard, but some soft minerals are used in jewelry because of their lustre or other physical properties that have aesthetic value.

The traditional classification in the West, which goes back to the Ancient Greeks, begins with a distinction between precious and semi-precious stones. In modern usage the precious stones are diamond, ruby, emerald and sapphire, with all other gemstones being semi-precious. This distinction is unscientific and reflects the rarity of the respective stones in ancient times, as well as their quality: all are translucent with fine color in their purest forms, except for the colorless diamond. Other stones are classified by their color, translucency and hardness. The traditional distinction does not necessarily reflect modern values, for example, while garnets are relatively inexpensive, a green garnet called Tsavorite, can be far more valuable than a mid-quality emerald. Another unscientific term for semi-precious gemstones used in art history is hardstone. Use of the terms 'precious' and 'semi-precious' in a commercial context is, arguably, misleading in that it deceptively implies certain stones are intrinsically more valuable than others, which is not the case.

Color is the most obvious and attractive feature of gemstones. The color of any material is due to the nature of light itself. Daylight, often called white light, is actually a mixture of different colors of light. When light passes through a material, some of the light may be absorbed, while the rest passes through. The part that is not absorbed reaches the eye as white light minus the absorbed colors. A ruby appears red because it absorbs all the other colors of white light - blue, yellow, green, etc. - except red.

The same material can exhibit different colors. For example ruby and sapphire have the same chemical composition (both are corundum) but exhibit different colors. Even the same gemstone can occur in many different colors: sapphires show different shades of blue and pink and "fancy sapphires" exhibit a whole range of other colors from yellow to orange-pink.

This difference in color is based on the atomic structure of the stone. Although the different stones formally have the same chemical composition, they are not exactly the same. Every now and then an atom is replaced by a completely different atom (and this could be as few as one in a million atoms). These so called impurities are sufficient to absorb certain colors and leave the other colors unaffected.

As an example: beryl, which is colorless in its pure mineral form, becomes emerald with chromium impurities. If you add manganese instead of chromium, beryl becomes pink morganite. With iron, it becomes aquamarine.

Some gemstone treatments make use of the fact that these impurities can be "manipulated", thus changing the color of the gem.


Mineral gemstones or Semi precious stones


Aventurine · Agate · Alexandrite · Amethyst · Aquamarine · Carnelian · Citrine · Diamond · Emerald · Garnet · Jade · Jasper · Malachite · Lapis lazuli · Moonstone · Obsidian · Onyx · Opal · Peridot · Quartz · Ruby · Sapphire · Sodalite · Sunstone · Tanzanite · Tiger's Eye · Topaz · Tourmaline

Organic gemstones

Amber · Copal · Coral · Jet · Pearl · Abalone


Synthetic and artificial gemstones


Some gemstones are manufactured to imitate other gemstones. For example, cubic zirconia is a synthetic diamond simulant composed of zirconium oxide. Moissanite is another example. The imitations copy the look and color of the real stone but possess neither their chemical nor physical characteristics. Moissanite actually has a higher refractive index than diamond and when presented beside an equivalently sized and cut diamond will have more "fire" than the diamond.

However, lab created gemstones are not imitations. For example, diamonds, ruby, sapphires and emeralds have been manufactured in labs to possess identical chemical and physical characteristics to the naturally occurring variety. Synthetic (lab created) corundums, including ruby and sapphire, are very common and they cost only a fraction of the natural stones. Smaller synthetic diamonds have been manufactured in large quantities as industrial abrasives.

Whether a gemstone is a natural stone or a lab-created (synthetic) stone, the characteristics of each are the same. Lab-created stones tend to have a more vivid color to them, as impurities are not present in a lab, so therefore do not affect the clarity or color of the stone.