Gems and Minerals

What are Gems and Minerals?

The earth creates over 4,000 minerals. They are a natural production of inorganic solids which have a chemical composition with a defined crystal structure. Minerals begin from a simple molecule that becomes arranged in a repeating chain, a three-dimensional array, or in sheets.

How do Minerals and Gems Form?

When magma or molten rock cools, it forms the minerals. Some are also found in underground caves by separating out the minerals from the water found below. Minerals are very small particles that will form in a confined area like grain sediments or lava flows.

Rock will form from a cluster of minerals and significantly affect how the land develops. It will also create natural resources such as; granite, iron, marble, tin, and even gold. The most common mineral classes are quartz, olivine, mica, and the emerald. They also comprise most of the rocks you see every day. Minerals also form beautiful crystals. The most sought-after of them are gems.

What are Gems?

The more prized crystals formed from minerals are the gemstones. Before they are cut, gemstones look much like an ordinary rock. Gems don’t get their luster and brilliance until they are cut and polished. Once gems are cut and polished, they gain their value.

GemsGems are often placed in two separate categories; semi-precious and precious. These categories were established mainly as a marketing tool for those who wanted to sell precious gems at a higher price.

Precious has been attached to gems like the ruby, emerald, sapphire, and diamond. The semi-precious gems are all the other stones used to create jewelry or other embellishments such as the garnet, amethyst, peridot, pearl, and a few others.

Precious Gems Form Differently

Appearances vary considerably in precious gems due to how they are formed. Their appearance will also vary with their composition of different materials.

• The diamonds are comprised of carbon atoms and are the hardest natural substance on Earth. These gems form under extremely high-pressure hundreds of miles under the Earth’s surface in very few locations. Graphite is comprised of carbon atoms also, but not in the same arrangement. This is why the diamond is harder than graphite which is used as lead in pencils.
• Emeralds form from a mineral known as beryl. The chemical formula for Beryl is a mix of aluminum, oxygen, silicon, and beryllium. Emeralds get their color from the traces of vanadium and chromium found in them. Other trace elements produce different colors such as the blue present in the aquamarine.
• Rubies are formed from a mineral known as corundum and consists of aluminum oxide. The red color of the ruby comes from traces of chromium found in them. Corundum is also in the sapphire where it produces a different color when it appears with traces of iron, chromium, and titanium.

Hardiness, luster, magnetism, density, and color all determine the classification of gems and minerals, as well as their physical properties. They can also be identified by how they break, streak, or by marks, they leave on a laboratory tool when rubbed across it.