Difference between Gems and Crystals

Key Difference: Gemstones are rare pieces of minerals that are found in the ground, which are then cut and polished to be used in jewelry and other decorative pieces. Crystals are pure substances whose atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an ordered pattern, where they extend in all three spatial dimensions. A gem can be a crystal, while a crystal cannot be called as a gem.

Gemstone and Crystals are both used in various applications in today’s world. While gemstones are primarily used in jewelry and decoration pieces, crystals can be used in various applications such as healing, jewelry, vases, scientific purposes, etc. A gem can be a crystal, while a crystal cannot be called as a gem.

Gemstones are rare pieces of minerals that are found in the ground, which are then cut and polished to be used in jewelry and other decorative pieces. Not all gems are minerals, such as lapis lazuli, a rock, and amber or jet, which are organic materials. A gemstone can also be known as precious or semi-precious stones. Precious stones include diamonds, emerald, ruby and sapphire, while the rest are qualified as semi-precious stones. Gemstones are classified by their color, translucency and hardness. Gems can also come with mineral bases like diamonds or rubies and with organic bases like amber. Today, geologists use the chemical composition of a gemstone to classify it into groups, species and varieties. The price of the gemstones depends on the rarity, color, composition, hardness and cut.

Crystals are pure substances whose atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an ordered pattern, where they extend in all three spatial dimensions. The process of crystal formation via mechanisms of crystal growth is called crystallization or solidification. Not all crystals need to be in solid formation, where water freezing also begins with small ice crystals that grow. Crystal symmetry requires that the unit cells stack perfectly with no gaps. Crystals are classified as Hexagonal, cubic, orthorhombic, tetragonal, rhombohedral, and monoclinic shapes. Crystals are light in color and are mostly translucent. The color of crystal is determined by the light passing through it.  Crystals are less expensive compared to gemstones. Salt and snowflakes are the most common types of crystals that are encountered.

 

Gems

Crystals

Definition

A gemstone or gem is a piece of mineral, which is cut and polished and used to make jewelry or other decorations. Can be a crystal

A crystal is a solid material whose constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an ordered pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. Cannot be a Gem

Composition

Rare minerals that are found on the earth. Composition differs according to type of mineral. Some come with mineral bases like diamonds or rubies and with organic bases like amber

Crystals are solids that have atoms, ions and molecules fixed in a regular order, which extend in three dimensions

Characteristics

Refractive index, dispersion, specific gravity, hardness, cleavage, fracture, and luster

Shape, atom composition, bonds and defects

Classification

Chemical composition and their crystalline structure

Hexagonal, cubic, orthorhombic, tetragonal, rhombohedral, and monoclinic

Color

Blue, red, green, etc

Light reflections through the crystal

Price

More expensive

Less expensive

Uses

Mainly jewelry

Various uses such as healing, jewelry, dishes, show pieces, vases, etc.

Examples

Obsidian, Lapis Lazuli, Jasper, Ruby, Emerald

Snow, amethyst, quartz, salt, diamond

Image Courtesy: gemstones-guide.com, completeyoga.co.za

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