Many people get delighted with the beauty of gemstones, precious and semi precious stones, but few of them know what sets them apart.
How about you? Do you know what is a mineral, a crystal, and a gem? Do you know what distinguishes a rock from a mineral? To clarify these and other questions, we created this article.
“Minerals are the “bricks” that make up the rocks” ¹. A mineral is a solid substance. Except for rare exceptions², minerals are produced by a non-organic process (i.e., it is not made inside a living organism).
It is a substance made by one or several natural processes such as:
– cooling of the magma under the earth
– rainfall (rain)
– condensation (evaporation in air)
– accumulation of sediment layers
– strong pressure at high temperatures, among others.
And these natural processes can take millions of years to happen.
The chemical formula of a mineral is precise and fixed. A mineral is a compound made up by molecules arranged in repetitive formations creating patterns. The most common patterns are the following: cubic, tetragonal, hexagonal, monoclinic, orthorhombic, rhombohedral and triclinic.
A crystal is a very particular subgroup of minerals. The specific characteristics of the crystals completely set them apart from other minerals. Therefore, a crystal is always a mineral, but not all minerals are crystals.
The reason crystals belong to a very distinct subgroup of minerals is that, the crystals have a well-ordered structure (atomic structure that forms a well organized and harmonious pattern).
From this regular atomic organization will happen that the faces of the crystals are flat, and the junction of these faces always happens at regular angles. It results from this that a crystal is a transparent mineral with high hardness.
The term gem includes any mineral, or rock, or organic substance (e.g., pearl, jet, amber, coral) that is:
1st of attractive appearance, named by its color,
2nd slightly changeable
3rd solid enough to withstand manipulations and daily use without scratching or ruining
The gemstone can be natural, treated or synthetic (manufactured artificially by man or partially forced by man).
There are also the organic gemstones which are substances produced by an organic process, i.e., they are made inside a living organism.
In the group of organic gemstones are included: amber, jet, coral, melite, pearls.
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