Difference between Minerals and Gemstones?

Difference between Minerals and Gemstones?

Almost minerals and gemstones are same technically if we look at characteristics of them. The science of minerals is called mineralogy. Whereas gemology is a branch of mineralogy. Gemstones are considered as adornment or beauty item which attract human eyes due to its beauty, unique colour, lustre and shapes.

Minerals occur as an inorganic substance having a definite chemical composition and crystal structure. On the other hand, gemstones are those minerals which will be having beauty and rarity. There should be precise numbers of atoms in a particular structure which will make a mineral.

Attributes of Minerals and Gemstones:-


There are many thousand numbers of minerals. Each has its particular chemical composition.

Minerals are usually part of rocks. One rock has various types of minerals. To understand minerals, one must know that what are rocks. There are 3 types of rocks:-

  • Igneous
  • Metamorphic
  • Sedimentary

Rocks are basically a mixture of different minerals. However, each mineral will have its separate chemical formula and crystalline structure. They are formed by different elements or combination of elements.

Metal can also be part of rock though it is not necessary to be in all type of minerals. All minerals can be called rocks or stone. Basalt is an igneous rock. It is a mixture of usually plagioclase, olivine and pyroxene. Just like granite which is mixed with quartz, feldspar, biotite.


A gemstone must be a unique mineral. They can be precious, semi-precious, rare and unique. They are distributed in the following characteristics:-

Beauty: beauty is evaluated by colour, lustre, transparency or optical effects


durability is measured by the following three effects:-

  1. Hardness: Resistance to scratch
  2. Toughness: Resistance to Breaking
  3. Stability: Resistance to chemical attacks, heat or light

Rarity: rarity is measured by their unique formation, colour or structure

They are used for jewelry, ornaments. They are cut, polished and crafted to use for humans in jewelry in particular. They have social effects also.  Gemstones have economic effects on society.

‘To be a gem, an object must display an inherent attractiveness (color, sparkle, or other optical property) and must be able to withstand the physical abuse that frequently accompanies treatment as a gem or piece of jewelry.’

A gemstones will have aesthetic aspects. They are priced for brilliance, rarity, cut, transparency like emeralds, diamonds, ruby, sapphire etc.

Some gemstone takes colour due to the minimum amount of metal such as chromium, iron, copper, titanium etc. For example, chromium gives the intensity of red in ruby or brilliant green in emerald. Similarly iron is responsible for yellow, blue and red in aquamarine, sapphire, spinel, garnet or perridot. One mineral when it is in pure form, it can be colourless like beryl or corundum. when trace elements like chromium or iron play role, they give different colours. such as chromium in beryl gives a green colour to emerald. iron in beryl gives a blue colour to aquamarine. Similarly ruby and sapphires are different varieties of corundum.

How gemstones get their colours? Read here in detail http://www.geogemsmineralclub.com/2017/07/12/how-gemstones-get-their-specific-colours/

About reading articles over-identification of gemstones, read here http://www.geogemsmineralclub.com/category/expertise/


Back to blog

Leave a comment