Origin of Gemstones

Diopside before it becomes a gemstone

Gemstones have been around since the earliest civilizations. From these earliest civilizations, gemstones have always represented wealth and power. Gemstones have been used not only as decorations, but as talismans, amulets and charms. Today, as in days of old, gems are collected, given as gifts and worn as jewelry. Simply, precious gems and jewelry are an absolute joy. They continue to dazzle and captivate and we are enamored by their beauty.

Gemstones begin as naturally formed, solid, inorganic chemical compounds or mineral crystals found in rocks. The three types of rocks that contain these mineral crystals are igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. Deep in the Earth there is an inferno boiling made up of molten rock and gases called magma. Magma will surface and break through as lava. When the lava cools, it forms igneous rock. Within the rock and gas bubble spaces, interlocking crystals grow. How the crystals form is dependent upon the minerals present, the environment and the cooling process. Diamonds and topaz are examples of the gems found in igneous rock.

Sedimentary rock consists of rock fragments that are near the surface and are washed into riverbeds and sea beds. Over time, these rock fragments combine together with mud, organic and non-organic elements. Eventually, the elements compact together into hard rocks. Sapphires and rubies are usually found in sedimentary rocks.

Intense pressure and high temperatures can re-crystallize and transform the composition of the rock. This is an example of metamorphic rock. Some of the gems located in metamorphic rock are emeralds and peridots.

Once the mineral crystals are mined, skilled craftsmen cut and polish the crystals to become gemstones. Gem cutting and polishing is an art form and contributes to the beauty, appearance and value of the gemstone.

Plants and animals also play a role in the formation of gemstones. The tusks of the elephant are ivory and the interior of the oyster produces the pearl. Fossil resin, commonly called tree sap, formulates the amber gemstone. Finally, there are gemstones that are not naturally created. They are produced in labs and are called synthetic gemstones.

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March 05 2010 10:22 pm

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