What are Gemstones?
There are more than 3800 minerals known to exist, with only a very small proportion, about 20, of these suitable to be cut and polished into gemstones.
For a mineral to qualify as a gemstone, it must be hard enough to survive abrasion, which immediately eliminates a great number of the minerals known today.
A gemstone must have some feature of beauty; usually colour, clarity, surface patterning or distinctive feature.
There is more to a gemstone than meets the eye. Gemstones come in many colours and have varying characteristics, therefor using visual identification to identify gemstones can be unreliable. When identifying a gemstone it is sometimes difficult to know if the stone is genuine or synthetic. The only reliable method of identifying gemstones is to take it to a qualified Gemmologist, they have the expertise and specialised equipment required to give the best advice. The Australian Museum
has further information about identifying gemstones, and they also provide a Gemstone Identification Service
Fashion and Gemstones
Gemstones may come in and out of fashion, but the new wave of television shopping channels and Internet sales such as Ebay
have stimulated a fashion for gemstone items. The popularity of gemstones such as Sapphires
have increased. Opals
again have become highly popular with a surge in Opal mining in Australia. If you have an interest in wearing or even making your own gemstone jewellery, then take a look at the Gemstone Jewellery
section. You will find examples of gemstone jewellery and lapidary, and tips on where to get started if you want to begin making your own.