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What are Natural Gemstones. How are they formed?

Natural Gemstones aregenerally minerals that have been, or may be, fashioned to use for personal adornment. As a rule, gem stones are beautiful, rare, and durable. Most are minerals: natural, inorganic materials with a fixed chemical composition and regular internal structure. A few gems like Amber and Pearl come from plants and animals and are called organics. To be regarded as a gemstone, a mineral (or occasionally an organic material) must be beautiful, most importantly in its color. gemstones must also be durable - hard enough to survive constant use or handling without becoming scratched or damaged. Finally, gemstones must be rare, because its very scarcity endows it with a greater market value. The mysterious appeal of gems, their exquisite colors, and the play of light within them, would alone have made them precious to many. Their rarity, hardness, and durability have made gemstones doubly valuable. The natural beauty, strength, and resilience of gemstones have inspired beliefs in their supernatural origins and magical powers, and gemstones that have survived the centuries have gathered a wealth of history and romance around them.

 sapphire gemstone                          smoky quartz                               aquamarine gemstone


Gallery of Colored Natural Gemstones


Amber is the fossilized resin of trees. Ambers are golden orange in color. Amber contains insects (flies, frogs, lizards), moss, lichen or pine needles that were trapped millions of years ago when the resin was still...


Aquamarine comes in the color of sky blue and dark blue. Aquamarine is often dichroic, appearing colorless or blue while it is viewed from different angles. The colour of aquamarine, however, is usually more even than that of ....


Sapphire  All gem quality corondum that is not red is called sapphire, yet most sapphires are assosiated with colour blue. Variation in color of sapphire is due to the content of iron and titanium impurities in them.....


Emerald is a green colored gemstone. Emerald gets its glossy green color from the presence of chromium and vanadium. The name emerald comes from the Greek 'smaragdos' via the Old French 'esmeralde', and really.....

natural gemstones : Corundum - Rubies

Ruby is considered the king of the gemstones. In the fascinating world of gemstones, the ruby is the undisputed ruler. Ruby is the name given to red, gem quality corondum.


Peridot has an olive or bottle green color due to the presence of iron, and an oily luster. It has high birefringence, so the doubling of the back facets can easily be seen in large peridots when....

cubic zirconia

Cubic Zirconia is a colourless gemstone which closely resembles diamond and oftenly mistaken as diamond. The name probably comes from the Persian word 'zargun', which means 'gold-coloured'


Garnet - By the term 'garnet', the specialist understands a group of more than ten different gemstones of similar chemical composition. It is true to say that red is the colour most often encountered...


Amethyst - Crystalline quartz in shades of purple, lilac, or mauve is called amethyst. The amethyst is extravagance in violet. For many thousands of years, the most striking representative of the quartz family


Turquoise is one of the first gems to be mined. Turquoise has an intense color which varies from sky blue to green, depending upon the amount of iron and copper in it. Being relatively soft, having a hardness of 6.


The name diamond is derived from the Greek word adamas which means invincible. It was given in reference to diamond’s great hardness. Diamond is the hardest mineral on Earth


The name coral however comes from the Greek 'korallion', which denotes the hard, calcareous skeleton of the coral animals, or from 'kura-halos', for 'mermaid', as the fine branches...

smoky quartz

Beautiful quartz, the 'rock crystal' used in ancient times to make crystal balls and bowls, is today more often seen set in gold jewelry.


Pearls are organic gems. Pearls are formed in shellfish especially oyesters. Long ago, pearls were important financial assets.......


Topaz word is derived from the Sanskrit word "tapas", meaning fire. The topaz has been known for at least 2000 years and is one of the gemstones which form the foundations of the twelve gates to the Holy City of the New Jerusalem


The name Jade is derived from the Spanish 'piedra de ijada', loin-stone, jade having been recognised by the Amerindians as a remedy for kidney ailments.

There are over 3,000 different minerals, but only about 50 are commonly used as a gemstones. Others are cut for collectors of the unusual, but are often not suitable for wear because they are too soft and easily scratched. In fact, the number of minerals regarded as gemstones constantly changes, as new sources and varieties are found and fashions change. Over 130 gem species, including some exceptionally rare stones, are described in this website, illustrating the very wide range of natural gemstones.


Gem materials were probably first used as much for their durability as their beauty. But beauty was not ignored. For example, the Stone Age obsidian axe below has been wrought to be attractive as well as practical, and ancient civilizations did fashion gems purely for adornment. Although most were primitive in design, some were highly intricate, with painted surfaces. Down the ages, gems have also been offered as prestigious gifts, and their portability and intrinsic value gave them a natural use as currency.    


         Emerald Jewel Piece                        Exquisite Lapis Lazuli Ring                       A Bracelet of Colored Gems

Most gemstones are mineral crystals that formed during one of three rock making processes: igneous rocks, metamorphic rocks and sedimentary rocks. Gemstones that have a mineral origin are found in rocks, or in gem gravels derived from these rocks. Rocks themselves are made up of one or more minerals, and may be divided into three main types.

The formation of these three types igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic - is a continuous process, best described in terms of the rock cycle. Gem-quality minerals with in these rocks may be easily accessible at the Earth's surface, or lie buried deep beneath it. Others, separated from their host rock by erosion, are carried by rivers to lakes or the sea.

Most minerals contain visible traces of their genesis - perhaps tiny crystals of other minerals that were caught up in the growth of the larger host crystal, or formed simultaneously as it grew, internal fractures that have been partially healed during growth, or traces of earlier growth stages, marked by zoning. Gemologists use the word inclusions to describe these and other internal phenomena. Inclusions in a gemstone, viewed through a microscope or a 10x loupe, can give information about the geological environment in which the mineral was formed. Inclusions can sometimes identify gemstones and they can prove whether the stone is natural or synthetic. Inclusions can also tell us where a gemstone comes from.

OPTICAL PROPERTIES : COLOR IS THE MOST OBVIOUS visual feature of a gem, but in fact it is just one of many optical properties, all of which are dependent upon light. The individual crystalline structure of a gemstone, interacts with light in a unique way, and determines the optical properties of each gem species. Effects produced by light passing through a gem are described here; those produced by the reflection of light. read more on Refractive index, pleochroic gems, birefringence, fluorescence, lustre, Interference, Allochromatic gems and idiochromatic gems.

World's Largest Diamonds

THE PHYSICAL PROPERTIES of gemstones, their hardness, their specific gravity or density and they way they break, depend on chemical bonding and the atomic structure within the stone. For example, diamond is the hardest natural material known, and graphite is one of the softest, yet both are made of the same element, carbon. It is the way in which the carbon atoms are bonded together in diamond that gives it a greater hardness and resilience. Read more on hardness, tenacity & toughness, thermal and electrical conductivity, magnetism, specific gravity, cleavage and fracture, and crystal systems of gemstones.


The most usual method of fashioning a gem is to cut the surface into a number of flat faces, known as facets. This gives the stone its final shape, or "cut". The craftsman, or lapidary, who cuts the stone aims to show its best features, taking into account its colour, clarity, and weight. He may, however, have to compromise to retain weight and therefore value. There are several stages in the cutting of a gemstone, each of which may be carried out by a different expert. In our example, a rough diamond crystal is fashioned into a brilliant-cut. This is the most popular cut for this stone because it maximizes the gem's naturally strong light dispersion. However because each stone is a different shape, or has imperfections within it, or because retaining the weight is of paramount importance, the cut in its ideal form (the "make") may not be possible. 


The shine given to the surface of a stone -either by rubbing it with grit or powder, or against another stone - is its polish. Dark-coloured gemstones and those that are translucent or opaque, for instance opal and turquoise, are often polished rather than faceted, as are organic gems. They may be polished as beads or as flat pieces to be used in inlay work, or cut en cabochon with a smooth, rounded surface and usually a highly polished domed top and flat base. The polishing of stones, is accomplished by the use of very finely powdered abrasives such as corundum powder, tripoli, pumice, putty powder, etc. Each gem material requires special treatment to obtain the best results. The polishing powder should not be quite as hard as the material to be polished, else it may grind rather than polish. The material is used with water or oil to give it a creamy consistency. It is backed by laps of different materials for different purposes. Thus, when backed by a fairly hard metal even tripoli, although much softer, will polish sapphire. On a lap of wood, tripoli would fail to polish hard materials, but would polish amethyst or other quartz gem. A change of speed of the lap, too, changes the effect of the polishing material. The polishing material has to be of a uniform size, preferably water floated or oil floated, to give good results. 


Carving usually refers to the cutting of decorative objects from a larger mass. Stones as hard as 7 on the Mohs' scale were carved in Ancient Egypt, Babylonia, and China. Impure corundum (emery) was used for carving and engraving in India; nowadays a hand-held chisel or turning machine is used. Popular stones for carving include serpentine, Blue John, malachite, azurite, rhodonite, and rhodochrosite.






Gold is a highly sought-after precious metal that for many centuries has been used as money, a store of value and in jewelry. The metal occurs as nuggets or grains in rocks and in alluvial deposits and is one of the coinage metals. It is a soft, shiny, yellow, dense, malleable, and ductile (trivalent and univalent) transition metal.  The colour of gold depends upon the amount and type of impurities it contains. Native gold is typically golden yellow, but in order to vary its colour and increase its hardness for use in jewelry, gold may be alloyed to other metals. Silver, platinum, nickel, or zinc contd...


Silver usually occurs in massive form as nuggets or grains, although it may also be found in wiry, dendritic (tree-like) aggregates. Silver is a very ductile and malleable (slightly harder than gold) univalent coinage metal with a brilliant white metallic luster that can take a high degree of polish. It has the highest electrical conductivity of all metals, even higher than copper, but its greater cost and tarnishability has prevented it from being widely used in place of copper for electrical purposes. On exposure to oxygen in the air a black layer of silver oxide readily forms, tarnishing the surface. Because of this, and the fact that it is contd....


Platinum has been used for thousands of years, but it was not recognised as a chemical element until1735. Of three perecious metals, gold, silver & platinum - it is the rarest and most valuable.Platinum is a slightly more dense than pure gold and about twice as dense as silver. early jewelers had difficulty acheiving the 1,773�C (3,223�F) needed to melt platinum. It wasn't untill the 1920s that the technology was developed sufficiently to work this metal. During the latter eighteenth century, platinum had some industrial uses. It was used to make durable laboratory instruments in Berlin in 1784. In France crucibles for glass production used it, a significant use still today. Platinum also began to impress jewellers and goldsmiths. Leading metal workers, such as Marc Janety, contd... a mineral, stone, or organic matter that can be cut and polished or otherwise treated for use as jewelry or other ornament. A precious gemstone has beauty, durability, and rarity, whereas a semiprecious gemstone has only one or two of these qualities. A gem is a gemstone that has been cut and polished. Diamond, corundum (ruby and sapphire), beryl (emerald and aquamarine), topaz, and opal are generally classed as precious stones. All other gemstones are usually classed as semiprecious.

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The four organic gem groups listed below are highly prized for their beauty and rarity. However, they are not as durable as gems from minerals:

(hardness: 2-2.5 Mohs)
A mixture of hydrocarbons
Specific gravity: 1.05-1.096

Hard fossil resin or sap of ancient pine trees. Usually amorphous (lacks crystalline structure). Sometimes mined, sometimes gathered on seashores. Varies from transparent to semitransparent and generally from light yellow to dark brown, but can be orange, red, whitish, greenish-brown, blue, or violet. Can be dyed in any color. Takes a fine polish. Used mainly in making beads or other ornaments.

(hardness: 3.5-4 Mohs)
Formed mainly of calcite (calcium carbonate) or conchiolin, a horny organic substance
Specific gravity: 2.60-2.70

Each coral polyp, a tiny marine animal that lives in enormous colonies, extracts calcium carbonate from the sea and exudes it to build a protective home around and above itself. Each generation of polyps dies in its protective home and each succeeding generation builds on top of its predecessor. Gem coral ranges from semi translucent to opaque and occurs in white, pink, orange, red, blue, violet, golden, and black. The black and golden corals are largely horny organic substances, not calcium carbonate. The finest coral is used to make figurines, cameos, carvings, and beads.

(hardness: 2.5-4 Mohs)
Carbon plus various hydrocarbon compounds
Specific gravity: 1.30-1.32

This compact velvet-black coal takes a good polish and is often cut into beads, bracelets, and a wide range of decorative and useful objects.

(hardness: 2.5-4.5 Mohs)
Formed within a mollusk, such as an oyster, that deposits a substance called nacre around an irritant that entered the organism
Specific gravity: 2.71

Pearl-bearing mollusks are found in both salt and fresh water. Salt-water pearls of gem quality are usually preferred for jewelry; they are produced almost entirely by the mollusk Pinctada. Fresh-water pearls are produced by various clams and mussels. Organic pearls come in various shapes: round, pear, drop, egg, and others. They also come in various colors, such as white, cream, light rose, cream rose, black, gray, bronze, blue, dark blue, blue green, red, purple, yellow, and violet


Synthetic gems are made in laboratories or factories, not in rocks. They have virtually the same chemical composition and crystal structure as natural gemstones, so their optical and physical properties are very similar. However, they can usually be identified by the differences in their inclusions. Many gems have been synthesized in the laboratory, but only a few are produced commercially- generally for industrial and scientific purposes.


Imitation gems have the appearance of their original counterparts, but their physical properties are different. They are made to deceive. Man-made materials, such as glass and synthetic spinel, have been used to imitate many different gems, but natural stones can also be modified to resemble more valuable gem. It is possible to enhance authentic gemstone by hiding cracks and flaws, or by heat-treating or irradiating to improve their color. Imitation gems merely imitate the color or look of a natural stone. They can be made out of anything. A cubic zirconia is an IMITATION diamond, for example. A blue piece of glass could be an imitation sapphire. A variety of blue synthetic forsterite is an excellent imitation for tanzanite, while chemically, it's composition is much closer to the yellowish green peridot. Another classic example is the "alexandrite" set in many jewelry pieces is actually a variety of vanadium colored synthetic sapphire.

Gem stones are scientifically fascinating, too. Gemologists make a complete study of each stone, both as it is found in rocks and after it has been cut and polished. That is why the species entries in this website show the gem in its rough state, perhaps still embedded in the host rock (or "matrix"), as well as after it has been cut, polished, or carved. Many entries also feature a micro-photograph which reveals the internal structure of the stone by magnifying it many times. In this world within a world the gemologist may turn detective, being able to distinguish between two outwardly similar gemstones, or between a natural gemstone and a synthetic gemstone.

Gemstone meanings


The word "amethyst" is of Greek origin and is translated as- "amethystus" meaning not drunken, or intoxicated ("-methystos" from "methyein" or intoxicated, "methy" = wine).

Aquamarine derives its' name from "sea water." According to some legends, aquamarine is the treasure of mermaids, with the power to keep sailors safe.

Comes from the Greek word, "adamus" which means unconquerable, utterly unyielding in attitude or opinion in spite of all appeals, urgings etc.

The name emerald is a derivative of an ancient Persian word, coming to us through the corruption of the Latin `Smaragdus'. The history of the emerald is as fascinating as it is voluminous. The ancients prized it as the symbol of love, rebirth and eternal youth.

Garnet derived its name from the French word ''grenat" meaning Pomegranate and "granatus" meaning grain. So called from its resemblance in color and shape to the grains or seeds of the pomegranate.

Greek word "opállios" meaning gem and a source akin to Sanskrit "upala" precious stone.


The name Peridot comes from the Arabic word "faridat," meaning gem. Ancient Egyptians called them the "gem of the sun," because of their dazzling brilliance when seen in the desert sun.

The word Ruby comes from the Latin "ruber," meaning red..It has been said that the Ruby's red glow comes from an internal flame that cannot be extinguished

Sapphire was named after the Greek word "sapphirus", meaning blue. The striking deep blue of a quality sapphire is reminiscent of a cloudless night sky.

The name topaz was derived from the Island of Topazos in the Red Sea, which probably refers to Zeberged, ancient source for peridot. But it is more likely that the name derives from the Sanskrit word "tapas" meaning fire.

Turquoise was so named because it was initially brought to Europe by way of Turkey, this stone is one of the first gems to be used in jewelry.   Turquoise was considered by ancients to be a sacred stone, protective against all manners of evil and ill health.  This beautiful gemstone is mined in Iran and the southwestern United States.  A gift of Turquoise represents friendship and luck. The Persian word for turquoise is "ferozah" or "firozah", which means victorious.


Crystals, minerals and metals have played various roles in the myths and legends of human cultures throughout history. They are fascinating examples of the attempts of the men and women of ancient times to explain their world without the benefit of science and with each culture's biases, superstitions and interests impressed upon them and therefore provide us with an especially vivid picture of the psychology of ancient man. What gemstone could make heroes stronger? Legends of Jewels, Quartz Mythology, Myths about crystals and myths about jewelry; Some of those ancient myths and legends have come down intact through the centuries. Others have evolved and mutated as result of the input of other culture as they came into contact with one another. We have done our best to dig up the mythology of crystals, minerals rocks and semi-precious stones from  ancient stories and organize them by their associated mineral, gemstone, crystal or metal. From the holy silver elephant of Buddhist and Vedic Astrology and other silver myths to  the legends, myths and folklore of the Middle East. Follow the links to the left to the ancient and modern myths. Read more on Myths and legends of variuos gemstones.

BIRTHSTONES: Introduction

Early civilization as far back as the Assyrians (1400 BC) invested rare and beautiful gemstones with magical properties. Some minerals were thought to contain a force or possess certain values and powers. For instance, amethyst was said to prevent intoxication. Tradition associates a gem with each sign of the zodiac based on a color system. Color was thought to unleash the power attributed to the birthstone. In time, birthstones became associated with calendar months rather than the zodiac. And people began to select birthstones in colors other than the original.

Read more about gemstones at Gemological Institute of America, GIA, is the world's foremost authority in gemology, diamond grading, jewelry education, gemology research.

mother pearl in her shell           fly trapped in amberowl made of pearl onyx quarts diamonds

Optical Properties - Physical Properties- Specific Gravity- Lustre- Source- Refraction- Polishing- Inclusions-
Imitation- Formation- Finishing- Faceting- Cuts- Crystal Systems- Conductivity- Chemical Process-
Carving & Engraving- Specific Gravity- Gold- Silver- Platinum- Agate- Coral- Bloodstone- Moonstone- Spinel-
Quartz- Pearl- Jade- Amber- Aquamarine- Diamonds- Garnet- Amethyst- Sapphire- Ruby- Turquoise- Topaz-
Peridot- Emerald- Cubic Zirconia- Opal- January Birthstone- February Birthstone- March Birthstone-
April Birthstone- May Birthstone- June Birthstone- July Birthstone- August Birthstone- September Birthstone-
October Birthstone- November Birthstone- December Birthstone- Aquamarine myths- Garnet myths-
Amethyst myths- Peridot myths- Ruby myths- Sapphire myths- Emerald myths- Topaz myths- Diamond myths-
Turquoise myths- Opal myths- Pearl myths- Aires- Aquarius- Pisces- Capricorn- Saggitarius- Cancer- Scorpio-
Virgo- Libra- Leo- Gemini- Taurus- Largest Diamonds pg1- Largest Diamonds pg2- Largest Daimonds pg3- Largest Diamonds pg4-
Largest Diamonds pg5-
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