Both minerals and gemstones have their own science. The science of minerals is called mineralogy and gemology is a branch of mineralogy.
Minerals occur naturally in the earth’s crust and are defined as inorganic solids that have characteristic chemical composition and crystalline structures. With over 2000 known minerals, each has its own definite chemical composition. Minerals are identified by seven properties i.e., color, luster, hardness, streak, cleavage, fracture, and crystal form.
The Difference Between Rocks and Minerals
How to Identify Minerals in 10 Steps (photos)
A gemstone or gem is a piece of mineral crystal, which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments. However, certain rocks (such as lapis lazuli) or organic materials that are not minerals (such as amber or jet), are also used for jewelry, and are therefore often considered to be gemstones as well. Most gemstones are hard, but some soft minerals are used in jewelry because of their luster or other physical properties that have aesthetic value. Rarity is another characteristic that lends value to a gemstone.
A gemstone is either precious or semiprecious stone cut, polished, and used in a piece of jewelry in an aesthetic manner. In modern usage, the precious stones are diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald, with all other gemstones being semi-precious. Traditionally these “precious” stones command a premium price due to their extraordinary color or brilliance and extreme rarity. The category “precious” has changed with time, place, and culture. For example, the ancient Greeks considered amethysts as “precious”; however, today amethyst is regarded as a semi-precious stone because so many have been found.
What is the difference between minerals and crystals?
Of the approximately 3,000 minerals that are admired for their beauty, cut, and polished only around two hundred are set into jewelry and are recognized as gemstones. The basic factors that contribute to the value of a gemstone are BEAUTY (color, luster, perfection of cutting, etc.) durability, rarity, demand (or vogue), tradition, and portability.