The Amazing History of Gemstones
From their miraculous extraction from the earth, gemstones date back to their discovery by ancient civilizations 5,000 years ago. From then on, the colorful beauty of gems have maintained a prominent and integral place in our lives. The fascination with these wonderous stones finds its origin in the early belief that they were created by gods or goddesses for their own use.
The ancient Roman myth expressed a belief that raw diamonds were so precious that to defile them with a cut was to engage in an expression of so vile it would be a seen as an attack directed against the gods themselves. In a corresponding act of reverence, raw diamonds, in fact, were worn and treasured beyond even the richness of gold.
And so begins the story, and the amazing history of gemstones.
As amulets against evil spirits and diseases, or talesmen trusted to bring us physical, emotional, or material benefit, gemstones have been treasured in every ancient culture from the moment they were held and beheld.
A Gift From Mother Nature
Today we know more about how gemstones form than ever before. We also understand better what makes a stone valuable. But there is still much mystery surrounding this fascinating subject.
The natural product of the chemicals buried deep within the earth, formed over time and by great pressure, the crystalline structure of the gemstone is as varied as the geographies that give birth to them.
Certain areas are responsible for the most coveted and high-quality stones, crystals, and pearls — yes, pearls are considered gemstones as well, assisted by clams and mussels as much as by mother nature herself.
Whether blue sapphires from India and white diamonds from Africa, each stone is a complex matrix of chemicals and chemical impurities such as iron, carbon, chromium, calcium carbonate and various other minerals all processed to become the magnificent shimmering decorations we all hold so dear.
Earth’s Gemstone Recipe
Although comparable distinctions have been made by other cultures, the Greeks are recognized for the classification we commonly use today. The distinction of precious and semi-precious refers to the scarcity (and corresponding value) of the gemstone.
Importantly, although some mineral gemstones are categorized as semi-precious, that does not mean that they are of lesser value than their so-called precious siblings; often, a semi-precious stone can fetch a higher price than a more moderate precious alternative.
Noted as precious stones, rubies, diamonds, emeralds, and the coveted blue sapphire are recognized in this prized category, while garnets, aquamarine, moonstones, quartz, amethysts, and even pearls are included on the list the semi-precious gemstones — but again, there have been more than one occasion when a pearl or amethyst has been valued higher than a esteemed member of the precious stone classification.
The Rock Cycle
All gemstones are formed by what we know as the rock cycle, or the process of minerals taking their shape over long periods of time (sometimes over millions of years) where the conditions transform the Earth’s chemicals into the wonderous stones we ultimately discover and fashion into our beloved jewelry.
The igneous rock is a product of volcanic magma that results in basalt which takes its shape from rapidly cooling lava. The rapid cooling forms cracks responsible for the cleaving (or fracturing) of the cooled rock.
The rock, through its travels by wind and water, is reduced in size and smoothed out much like the graphite in a sharpened pencil. Amazingly, this rock is common in planetary formations such as the planes of Mars and Venus.
This rock is formed by the erosion of earth or the shells of tiny dead organisms that accumulate into a larger formation such as calcite or quartz. The result of the small fragments cemented together and compacted to become a limestone rock. The pressure of the earth’s plates and its heat compresses the rock even further until it crystalizes to become metamorphic marble.
The Earth’s temperature and pressure over time can melt the resulting rock, which contributes to the rock cycle in its transformation back into magma, and the cycle starts all over again.
How Are Gemstones Formed?
Minerals that result from the cycle are occasionally organized atomically, taking on a special structure we know as a crystal. The mineral crystals known for their shapes and beautifully colored stones can be classified as Gemstone Crystalline Structures.
Gemstone Crystalline Structures
When these rock crystals are recognized for their extraordinary colors, they are processed into gemstones. They are cut, polished, and designed into beautiful treasures we can admire, keep close to us, or present as a tribute to those we love.
This is the story of the valuable gemstones which began millions of years ago, find their way into the beautiful gemstone designs at HerMJ, and ultimately into your necklaces, bracelets, and earring jewelry.
Created with love and care by HerMJ. We Love Gemstones!