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Jewels are also the end result of a process begun billions of years ago when the Earth was first formed. All that existed originally were the elements. Common elements you may be familiar with include oxygen, silicon, and carbon. Gold and silver are also elements. Far below the Earth's surface, where they were subjected to tremendous heat and pressure, certain elements combined to form minerals.

Atoms of an element may combine with other atoms of the same element; or they may combine with atoms from other elements to make compounds. Sulfur is a pure mineral, that is, it contains only sulfur atoms. Sulphur atoms may also combine with iron atoms to form a compound mineral called pyrite.

Diamond, which is pure carbon, is the only gemstone formed from one element. All the other minerals that we classify as gemstones are compounds--they are minerals that include atoms from more than one element.

Minerals formed from more than one element are also called chemicals. Like other minerals, gemstones can be described by chemical formulas. For example, quartz is a combination of silicon and oxygen called silicon dioxide.

Structure of a diamond
Arrangement of carbon atoms in a diamond gives it a highly refractive surface which makes it shine elegantly.

Natural Gemstones




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