What makes a gemstone sparkly and alluring? It’s the combination of a mineral’s chemical composition and its crystalline structure. But did you know that not all gems are created equal when it comes to color variation?
Some gems, called idiochromatic, only occur in one color, while others, called allochromatic, can occur in many different shades. Minerals, crystals, and organic materials can all produce gems. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the world of gems, exploring their differences and what makes each one unique.
Introduction to Gems
Gemstones are fascinating minerals that have captured the attention of humans for centuries. They are natural minerals or organic materials that have been cut, polished, and used in jewelry, decorative objects, and even for calming purposes.
These beautiful stones come in a wide range of colors, shapes, sizes, and textures, making them a popular choice for anyone who loves to wear or collect them. As the science behind gems becomes more understood, we learn about the different types of gems, how they are formed, and the role of trace elements and minerals in their color and quality.
#01. Understanding Minerals
Minerals are natural substances that have distinct chemical and physical properties. They are inorganic substances that have a crystalline structure and occur naturally. They are essential components of rocks, soils, and ores. Common minerals include asbestos, aluminum ore, fluorite, gold, quartz, and more.
Gemstones are an example of minerals that can be used for decorative purposes. Gemstones are natural crystals or mineral deposits that have been cut and polished to enhance their beauty.
Some examples include diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, amethysts, topaz stones among others. These gemstones can then be used to make jewelry or other ornamental items.
Some minerals like zinc can be found in food sources such as red meat or nuts while calcium is commonly found in dairy products like milk or cheese.
#02. The Science behind Crystals
Crystals are a natural wonder that have fascinated humans for centuries. They come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors.
Crystals are formed from minerals that have undergone a specific process of solidification under the right conditions of temperature and pressure. This process can take millions of years to complete. The result is a crystal with a unique structure that is determined by the minerals involved in its formation.
Crystals can be found all over the world, from underground caves to volcanic rock formations. Many crystals are commonly used as gemstones, such as diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and rubies. These gemstones are highly valued for their beauty and rarity.
One example of a well-known crystal is quartz. It is one of the most common minerals on Earth and comes in many varieties such as amethyst, rose quartz and smoky quartz among others.
#03. Spotlight on Organic Gems
Organ gems are fascinating examples of how nature can create stunningly beautiful objects from living organisms. These gems are formed from materials produced by living organisms, which have been cut and polished into ornamental and jewelry objects.
Amber, pearl, jet, dinosaur bone, and coral are some of the most well-known organic gems, but there are many others to discover. Fossilized organisms or parts of organisms, such as stromatolite, ammonite, and crinoidal limestone, can also be cut and polished into interesting gems.
These gems often preserve the unique structures and patterns of the organisms that produced them, making them truly one-of-a-kind.
#04. Allochromatic Gems: Explanation and Examples
Allochromatic gems are those that get their color from trace elements present in their chemical composition. These gems can appear in a variety of colors due to the presence of different trace elements.
Gems such as Corundum can have different colored varieties due to elements such as chromium, creating the red color of rubies.
Examples of allochromatic gems include beryl, which can appear as green Emerald, pink Morganite, and blue Aquamarine due to the presence of different trace elements.
#05. Idiochromatic Gems: Meaning and Characteristics
Idiochromatic gems are those that derive their color from the chemical composition of the gemstone itself.
Unlike allochromatic gems that derive their color from trace elements or impurities, idiochromatic gems are always a single color.
Examples of idiochromatic gems include peridot, which is always green due to the presence of iron, and garnet, which can be a variety of colors but is always the same within a specific type due to the chemical composition.
Factors that contribute to the color of a gemstone.
The presence of transition metals like chromium, copper, gold, iron, and nickel, or rare earth elements like gadolinium, erbium, and yttrium can affect how light is absorbed and reflected back to the viewer, creating different hues.
Defects in the crystal structure, length of light rays, and light sources like daylight and fluorescence can also impact a gemstone’s color. The type of gemstone and the presence of trace elements can distinguish between allochromatic and idiochromatic gems.
As the Gem Society explains, allochromatic gems get their color from impurities, while idiochromatic gems have color-causing elements essential to their chemical structure.
Unlock the World of Gems: Explore the GIA’s Online Gem Encyclopedia
The online Gem Encyclopedia launched by Gemological Institute of America (GIA) provides a comprehensive guide to the science and lore of gemstones from around the world. The virtual journey through this encyclopedia is an exciting one that showcases everything from classic jewelry favorites like diamonds and emeralds to lesser-known gems.
The GIA’s Gem Encyclopedia is an essential resource for anyone with an interest in gems or gemology. It contains detailed information about each type of stone, including their history, geology, physical properties, and characteristics.
Additionally, it features stunning high-quality photographs that show off the unique qualities of each gemstone. With over 400 different entries available on the website, there’s no shortage of knowledge to be gained by exploring this vast encyclopedia.
In conclusion, the glimpse of the diverse gems in this article is just the tip of the iceberg!
From the enchanting cat’s-eye chrysoberyl to the mesmerizing tourmaline, from the vibrant turquoise to the serene aquamarine, these gemstones represent only a fraction of the vast world of gemology.
It’s fascinating to learn that over 200 minerals, rocks, organics, and other materials have been utilized as precious gems throughout history.
Dear reader, now we turn the spotlight to you.
Which gemstone holds a special place in your heart? Is it the fiery beauty of a ruby, the captivating allure of an emerald, or the delicate shimmer of a pearl? We invite you to share your favorite gemstone and its significance in the comments below, as we celebrate the everlasting allure and timeless elegance of these remarkable treasures from the Earth.
For an interactive jewelry experience, join the Luxury Jewelry Network to watch Live Shopping shows that are very educational and entertaining. Catch the Gems of the World Show on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. PST and the JUST BECAUSE diamond event on Friday at 4:30 p.m. PST.
To learn more about fine jewelry, join the Trust My Jeweler DIAMOND CLUB Facebook group. You will love community interaction, finding great deals, bid on exciting auctions, and participate in exciting giveaways.