What Are Gemstones? By Eternal Tools

A gemstone is the name given to a piece of mineral (or other rock or organic material) that after it has been cut and polished has been made into a piece of jewellery or another accessory. Although gemstones are commonly made from minerals, material such as jet or amber or rocks like lapis lazuli can also be utilised in the creation of gemstones. The majority of gemstones will be hard to the touch but depending on the piece of jewellery that is being created, some soft minerals are also utilised. Take a look at Moh's Scale of Hardness to find out more about this.

Some other names for a gemstone include:

  • Gem / Fine Gem
  • Precious stone / Semi-precious stone
  • Jewel

How Are Gemstones Formed?

Even though the vast majority of gemstones are created below the surface of the earth, there are a number of different ways that the individual stones can be created. A great number of these precious stones are created when the minerals react with water that is found just below the surface of the earth and the minerals then dissolve. This process allows the minerals to form with gemstones like opals, agates and amethysts forming when the solution cools or evaporates.

Gems like malachite, azurite or turquoise are formed when water blends with rocks that are rich in copper. There is a strong history attached to turquoise gems with the ancient Egyptians regarding them to be an extremely precious gem. This means that turquoise gems have been around for 4,000 years or even longer!

Value of Gemstones

Much the same as you would expect from any other major industry, the price of gemstones is largely influenced by supply and demand.

One of the most important things for people when considering gemstones is the value and price for them but like in many industries, the laws of supply and demand are very much in place. This means that rare gems will carry a higher price tag.

For instance, a garnet is extremely stylish and attractive but it is not that rare, which means that its price tag is not too high. If you compared a garnet to a ruby of a similar size and condition, the ruby would always hold a higher price, simply because of the fact that it is a rare stone.

It is often difficult to place a true value on any particular gemstone because there is no uniform classification or measurement system in place. This is where gemstones differ from diamonds, which have been subject to a uniform measurement system since the 1950s. Traditionally, gemstones have been examined and evaluated by eye. When examining a gemstone, the four most important factors can be summed up in the four C's, which are; colour, clarity, cut and carat.

Even though diamonds are one of the most prized possessions on Earth, there are actually a number of different gemstones that are rarer to find than diamonds. Some of the rarest gemstones you can find include:

  • Painite
  • Alexandrite
  • Tanzanite
  • Benitoite
  • Poudretteite
  • Grandiderite
  • Musgravite
  • Jeremejevite
  • Red Beryl

Buying Gemstones

With gemstones being the focal point of so many great pieces of jewellery, it is understandable why so many people are interested in buying them. However, it helps to know what you are doing and looking for when you shop for gemstones.

It goes without saying that you should only buy gemstones from respected firms or individuals. If a too-good-to-be- true deal for gemstones arises, it is likely to be too-good-to-be-true. The opportunity of making a great saving when buying a gemstone is very tempting and this can lead people to look for bargains. However, in this case, there is a high chance that you may end up paying a high fee for a fake or synthetic gemstone.

When you are looking to buy a gemstone, you will find it much easier to buy a natural gemstone when it is a colour you are shopping for and not a particular type of stone. In this case, gemstones such as peridot, alexandrite or moonstone, which are not treated, are the better option to look for.

When buying gemstones, like any other major purchase, it pays to do your research in advance and to look around at various shops or outlets before making a purchase. If you are more interested in the look and design of a jewellery piece as opposed to the veracity of it, you may be better off buying a synthetic gemstone. Modern synthetic gemstones, created in laboratories look just as good (sometimes with fewer blemishes) as the traditional pieces.

Drilling, Cutting, Polishing and Carving Gemstones

For further tutorials and information, you might be interested to take a look at our easy step by step guide on How to Drill Gemstones.

To polish, carve, slice, cut and file your gemstones you will need to use diamond tools. We have a wide range of wheels, burrs, files, pastes, drill bits and laps, come and have a look at Eternal Tools Diamond Tools

Whether you're looking to carve, wire wrap, set or drill your gemstones we hope here at Eternal Tools we can help you with the precision tools you'll need.