What Is A Gemstone?

Published by Gordon Weller GIA GG on 27th Feb 2020

What qualifies as a "Gemstone"?

What is a gemstone?

Gemstones are either minerals or organic matter (the products of living or once-living organisms and biological processes) that have been cut, polished and fashioned for use in a jewelry piece. Pearls, amber (fossilized tree sap that must be at least 1 million years old), coral and ivory are the most well-known organic gemstones. The vast majority of gemstones are minerals; natural, inorganic materials with specific chemical compositions, most of which have a characteristic crystalline structure. In order to be classified as a gem, a mineral must be:

Beautiful - something that has visual appeal

Durable - a combination of hardness (how well it resists scratching and abrasion), toughness (the ability to withstand breaking, chipping and cracking) and stability (how well it resists the effects of light).

Rare - Of 3000+ minerals currently known to man, only about 100 are identified as gems.

Check out our blog about precious vs semi-precious gemstones!