Gemstones and Crystals
A rock is a rock right? Not necessarily. While some people do use words like “rock,” “stone” and “gem” interchangeably, there are some noticeable differences between these words. The most common misconceptions occurs when you begin talking about “gems” and “crystals” . Are these two words synonymous, or is there an actual difference in the verbiage?
A gem is a rare mineral. This mineral is of the purest quality, so it is priced highly and considered “gem quality.” A crystal is a pure substance that has its molecules arranged in such a way that it creates a geometric pattern formation in some way.
These definitions are obviously not the same, but they can potentially sync up. Because a gem is a rare, high-quality mineral, it can certainly be crystalline in nature. However, not all crystals will be made of a rare, high-quality mineral. Thus, these terms aren’t synonymous BUT they may coincide with one another on occasion.
You may have already used this distinction in your everyday life and not have known! Consider sugar crystals -- you wouldn’t call a crystal of sugar a gemstone, would you? Salt crystals are also crystals, but you certainly couldn’t call them gemstones either. This goes to show that while sometimes a gem can be a crystal, and vice versa, Gems are made organically through minerals or organic matter. Crystals are defined solids that contain atoms, molecules and ions in a fixed order. These then go on to extend to three dimensions, creating a crystalline shape.
The way we classify both gems and crystals varies, though a gem that is crystalline will occur and fall into both categories. Gems are usually categorized based on their chemical makeup -- what makes this gem the gem that it is? What trace minerals can be found within it that make up its colour scheme? How is it structured? Gems are then typically cut to size after their value is determined
Crystals, on the other hand, are usually classified by their shape. This can mean a cubic crystal, a tetragonal crystal, a or a hexagonal crystal. Other crystal classifications include orthorhombic, monoclinic and rhombohedral. Crystals are also categorized by their crystal system, which refers to a subcategory of the above lattice systems.
Gemology and crystallography lingo can be confusing to many if they’re unfamiliar with the nuances of these studies. At the end of the day no one is going to judge you hard on the terminology but its fun to get a little deeper insight.
Crystals have differing vibrations which connect on physical, emotional and spiritual levels and assist in many of the healing arts. Keep a gemstone in your pocket or purse, under your pillow, or around your home to benefit from the properties within.
Whether you are starting out on your crystal journey or well advanced in your knowledge, there are a few basic stones that everyone should invest in. For instance:
- Rose Quartz, (unconditional love and infinite peace, purifies opens and heals the heart at all levels).
- Black Tourmaline (protection, it also cleanses, purifies and transforms dense energy into a lighter vibration. Protects against negative energies of all kinds).
- Amethyst, (enhances spiritual awareness and has strong healing and cleansing powers).
- Clear Quartz (most powerful healing and energy amplifying stone. It absorbs, stores, releases and regulates energy).
- Smokey quartz (one of the most efficient grounding and stabilising stones).
- Citrine, (joy and abundance, teaching us to manifest and attract prosperity, success and all good things. A happy and generous stone).
- Selenite (brings clarity of mind and higher guidance. A stone of deep peace that calms the mind).
These are a handful of stones you should always have within reach for their ultimate general healing nature.
Precious stones have been used for centuries amongst many cultures throughout the world to help healing in a variety of ways. They were used to diagnose illness and aid recovery, for clarity, calmness and even for love, also used to aid physical and emotional pain. They were selected according to their colour or metaphysical properties, placed on certain parts of the body to promote healing and recovery. Nowadays crystals are integrated into our lives for a number of reasons for grounding, meditation, balancing chakras, physical and emotional healing, relaxation and providing clarity, and larger pieces not only enhance the metaphysical properties they are a natural piece of art to integrate into your home.
Crystals help us gain inner strength, clarity, wisdom, confidence and self love. All traits that we need a little help with at certain times in our lives.
A stone of many colors. This unique gemstone elicits a color-changing effect. In the daylight, it looks like a deep-earthy turquoise color - inside under the light of a lamp Alexandrite is red with a touch of raspberry. Value of this gemstone is higher when the color-changing effect is more pronounced.
Adding some romance to the Valentine’s Day month, Amethyst is a fitting birthstone for February. In addition to the beautiful color of this gemstone, Amethyst is also widely popular because it’s abundant and comes in many shapes and sizes, which make this more affordable than many gems.
You can almost visualize the color of this gemstone just by its name alone. In fact, Aquamarine literally translates to “seawater”, and the color is a vibrant blue that brings to mind images of the sea. Symbolizing youth, health, and fidelity, this timeless gemstone is also a birthstone for March.
Golden yellow-orange hues in the Citrine gemstone were no doubt the origin of the saying that “Citrine is a gift from the sun”. French for the word lemon, Citrine ranges from a bright lemon yellow to an orangish-brown color. Widely available in many shapes and sizes, including very large stones, Citrine is one of the most affordable and popular gemstones.
Harder than any other gemstone on Earth, diamonds have been highly sought after since ancient times. For hundreds of years, women and men have been wearing diamonds and they are considered the ultimate gift and symbol of love. Diamonds are available in a variety of cuts and colors, and when evaluating a diamond - the 4 C’s apply: cut, color, clarity, and carat.
As a May birthstone, Emerald is the perfect color to symbolize springtime because it represents rebirth and love. Value of an emerald is higher in the stones with deeper, more intense hues of green. In fact, the most valuable Emeralds in existence are so rich they also exhibit vivid-bluish hues.
Because certain rare geological conditions must be present to create a colored diamond - these gemstones are scarce and expensive. Pink, blue, yellow, orange, green, red, and brown-colored diamonds exist. The value of a colored diamond is dependent on the intensity of their color in terms of tone, hue, and saturation.
January’s birthstone can be found in a wide variety of colors, all with incredible hues and tones. Garnet can be found in various shades of red, green, orange, brown, pink, and purple. Mysticism surrounds this gemstone with legends that it protects against accidents and nightmares. Around the world, people give Garnet gemstones to one another as gifts for any occasion.
Everyone is familiar with green shimmery Jade gemstones. But, did you know that Jade is also found in shades of yellow, white, pink, and lavender? Because this gemstone was thought to preserve the corpse of the dead, it’s not uncommon to find in tombs. Various shapes exist for Jade, but a flat disc is the most common.
Lapis Lazuli dates way back to 400 B.C. and is a highly-revered gemstone. Vibrant blue tones within the stone have been used for paint in ancient culture. The name of this stone is a combination of the Persian word lazhward, “blue”, and the Latin word lapis, “stone.” The rich celestial-blue color of this gem has long been associated with gods, royalty, power, spirit, truth, wisdom, and vision.
Beneath the pearly luminescent covering of the moonstone lies centuries of mystique and power associated with this gorgeous gem. Alternating layers of Albite and Orthoclase create an effect called adularescence - which is the diffraction of light as it hits these layers.
Known as the stone of divine love, Morganite is an overall pink precious gemstone. When looking closely at this gem, a myriad of dazzling shades are visible from soft subtle tones of pink and lavender to peach and apricot and even hot fuschia. Morganite symbolizes love and prosperity.
Black Onyx is typically the first variation of this gemstone that comes to mind. However, many do not realize that Onyx comes in a variety of colors, including white, brown, reddish brown, and banded. Sardonyx is a type of Onyx that has reddish brown, white, and lighter bands throughout. Regardless of the options, black remains the most popular variety of Onyx.
Opal became known as the “Queen of Gems” in ancient times because it hosts all the colors of other gems. Unique as our very own fingerprints - Opal is an original and versatile gemstone that will never date or go out of style. Some Opals display stunning blues and greens while others feature yellows and reds - and even rarer Opals are found in stunning black.
Paraiba Tourmaline was only discovered in the late 1980s, but it has become one of the rarest and most valuable gems worldwide. Coincidentally, the gem comes from the ocean shores of Paraiba, and the electric blues and greens are reminiscent of its origins. No other gem in the world has the same shades of blues and green as this gemstone.
Pearls have been admired, sought after, and even worshipped by people throughout documented history. Pearls are a birthstone for the month of June. What makes pearls so unique compared to other gemstones is that they are the only ones that are formed inside of a living creature. Cultured pearls can be found in many colors from pale cream, lilac, white, rose, gold, black, grey, and green.
An August birthstone, Peridot, is an historic stone that is most commonly found in a signature lime-green color. In ancient times, this gem was said to be a gift from Mother Nature, and people have believed it could bring the wearer healing powers and magic.
Red Tourmaline, also known as Rubellite Tourmaline, combines vivid shades of pink with dark ruby red and violet tint. Unlike other gemstones, true Rubellite gives off just as much intensity in daylight as they do in artificial light. The vibrant colors in this gem symbolize life, energy, and passion.
Known for many years as the “king of all gems”, Ruby represents emotion, courage, love, and passion. Often owned by kings and royalty throughout the ages, rubies were believed to bring good fortune to the wearer. Rubies are the most-valued gemstones and come in a range of red colors from purplish to bluish or even orange-red.
Because the origin of the word sapphire is Greek for “blue”, many people associate Sapphire with blue or bluish-purple hues. Known as a birthstone for the month of September, Sapphire represents honesty, purity, trust, and loyalty. Because of this symbolism, Sapphires are the most popular gemstones to adorn engagement rings today.
Because the color of Spinel is similar to that of the Ruby, centuries ago it was referred to as the daughter of the Ruby. Contrary to popular belief, Spinel's are actually rarer than Rubies, but can often be found in large sizes. Spinel is a birthstone for the month of August.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the only place on Earth where Tanzanite gemstones have been found. This gem is a birthstone for the month of December and displays an intriguing rich-blue color with tones of vivid purples.
Topaz is a birthstone for the month of November and comes in various shades of green, blue, red, honey, yellow, brown, pink - or even no color at all. Imperial Topaz is the most highly-prized and features orange and pink undertones.
The name Tourmaline means “mixed stone”, and this October birthstone lives up to its name! This unique stone is available in a rainbow of colors and often features more than one of these colors: mint, peach, pink, magenta, blue, violet, dark green, bright yellow, purple, and more.
Turquoise is one of the oldest-known gemstones. In addition to being ancient, Turquoise is also a December birthstone. Its distinct robin’s egg blue color has drawn people to this gem for centuries, and it’s symbolic of healing, wealth, and luck.
Zircon is found in an array of colors, including dark red, brown, orange, green, and yellow - but the most popular and well-known varieties of Zircon are bright Caribbean Sea colors. Also, a December birthstone, Zircon is associated with honor, wisdom, prosperity, and resting.