It can be a bit difficult to give a single definition that completely satisfies what a gemstone is. Artisans, marketers, and people in the jewelry interchangeably use terms like gemstones, gems, precious and semi-precious stones, and jewels to refer to ornamental materials. But are they all the same? What makes one type of mineral more valuable, and why are gemstones so precious?
Firstly, we need to state that the term "gemstone" in the strict geological sense is used to define a mineral crystal. A mineral has to be a solid chemical compound, with a crystal lattice structure. Gemstones can be either natural or synthetic, and to be considered as precious, they have to be exceedingly rare. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds are universally considered to be precious stones.
However most people in the jewelry trade, and even gemologists, consider other materials such as Amber, which are derived from fossilized tree resin, and Opal, a beautiful and iridescent rock created by mixing silicates and water, as precious stones as they are used in jewelry making. Pearls, are also not mineral crystals per se, however, because of their rarity and aesthetic value, they are considered as gemstones as well.
Even when gems are classed as "semi-precious" they can still have immense value, and consequently, a high price tag. Factors such as the color, cut, size, clarity, among many others can greatly impact the costs of gemstones.
Considered by many to be a staple of Asian royalty, Jade is assumed by many to be green. However this semi-precious stone, revered for purification and protection from evil in Feng Shui, comes in a bevy of colors, like black, brown, yellow, and red. Even the jade used as an example, is in pink.
However, Peridote only exists in one color- green. Thus there is no surprise that this august birthstone symbolizes growth and spring. Stones made of feldspar like Labradorite, which are naturally lustrous and blue-green or Kyanite, a hard and pearly mineral that usually comes in shades of grayish blue are meant to represent strength and inspire perseverance.
Garnet is available in a multitude of shades but it is most known as a "lighter ruby", so the varieties of oranges, browns, and reds are the most sought after. Considered as the January birthstone, it is meant to revitalize spirituality and instil feelings of energy and self-confidence.
The birthstone for November, and revered by the ancients as able to repel curses and disenchantment, Topaz is an exceptional gemstone that is hard and prismatic, meaning they can be cut into magnificent shapes to better show their vitreous, or glass-like shimmer.
A lot of people have ascribed meanings onto gemstones, as not only are they a product of the earth, created through processes that take millions of years, there are some that claim that crystals have energy, and that they have the ability to cleanse or to heal. Much of it is left for debate, however, but for Omani Jewelry, it is enough to appreciate these beauties for what they are- stunning gems that are cut, fashioned, and handcrafted by our partnered Israeli artisans.