Five things to know about gemstones (Part III)

3. Basic physical features of gems:

Hardness: This can be defined as the relative solidness of the mineral, or how easily it can be scratched. It may seem it is not a scientific evaluation, but in fact, it can be accurately defined by something called “the Moh’s scale”.

The concept of hardness actually baffles people. Diamond is famous to be the hardest stone on Earth – but, in fact, is very breakable, which signifies that it is relatively susceptible to impact (e.g. Another example would be metal iron that is not very hard (easy to scratch), but very hard to break, and must be red-hot for crafting) We, as newly made scientists – gemmologists, are required to differentiate and understand hardness and toughness as different physical characteristics.

Materials that are soft below 4 on Moh’s scale are hard to craft. so are seldom used for jewellery making unless used in its raw form (I love to use Selenite in its natural form only, it cannot be treated as it is too soft). Gems are treated only (faceted) if they are hard above 5 on Moh’s scale.

Specific gravity: relative density of any material. This is a significant characteristic to recognize the gem in question. This traits tells us that one specific volume (measured in cubic meters) has always specific weight – this is a good way to find out if some mineral is what is claimed to be. All mineral specific gravity are measured and known, and so if you measure some gem, and measure its dimensions, it must be corresponding to specific gravity for that gem – or its a fake, simple as that.

Cleavage: This is a trait that tells us about the frailty of the flat side of gems. This is important to know as it will tell us if and how we can cut for jewels.

Tenacity: Refers to some other traits of firmness. The aforesaid toughness is one of those traits, and there are some more, like brittleness.

Crystal structure: Most of the gems have crystalline structure. That means that its internal composition of atoms in a molecule is geometrically arranged in a certain pattern form. Consequently, this is how another name for gems became known – crystals – one most often used by supporters of gem use as healing crystals. It is an understanding that natural minerals have energy influence on the human body and mind.

Gems are classified by their structure, and that is also a fascinating nature form. They form well known, but again very mystical shapes of sacred geometry, making that yet another interesting field of study. By geometry of their structure, crystals can be:

Cubic – Right angle geometric forms that can be structured as cubes, octahedrons and dodecahedrons (depending on a number of sides – 4, 8 and 12). In this type we have platinum, gold and diamonds, so a high a very high-class society.

Tetragonal – similar to elongated prism, most famous member of this group is Zircon

Trigonal – threefold symmetry, similar to elongated pyramids, most important mineral is Quartz, the most respected mineral in the healing crystal world.

Hexagonal – sixfold symmetry, Aquamarine and Emeralds are proud members.

Monoclinic – meaning having only one incline, my favourite here is Selenite, please follow this link to see RubyCharm offer

Triclinic – are actually not very symmetrical, its orientation is more or less random. Sunstone is most famous representative of this group.

Orthorhombic – the shape of a parallelogram, famous representatives are Peridot and Iolite.


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