29 Precious Facts About Gemstones You Probably Didn't Know Before

Oluwatosin Michael
Oct 11, 2023 By Oluwatosin Michael
Originally Published on Feb 09, 2022
Pearls are the oldest, most desirable gems
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.1 Min

Since the beginning of time, humans have always had a fascination for shiny and glossy gemstones.

The Romans believed that a diamond was a piece of a falling star. On the other hand, the ancient Greeks believed that a diamond was the teardrop of the Gods.

Today we know much more about gemstones and understand the formation of a unique stone, and still, there is no end to our fascination.

From the Egyptian ruler Cleopatra's famous love for emeralds and other green gemstones like peridots to the well-known emerald necklace which sank with the Titanic in the Atlantic Ocean, the passion for gemstones has remained true.

It is quite rightly said that a diamond is a girl's best friend.

Gemstones are available in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, and the value of a stone depends mainly on the four Cs: cut, color, clarity, and carat.

These are the globally accepted methods of grading and evaluating a gemstone. Experts use these four parameters to measure the actual value of a stone. Here are some more gemstone facts that you must know.

History Of Gemstones

Experts support the opinion that the formation of gemstones happened on Earth, ranging from millions to billions of years ago.

  • Pearls are an exception because their creation is organic and a constant process in saltwater. With improvement in dating techniques, scientists can find the age of gemstones more accurately these days.
  • Experts estimate that diamonds were formed deep within the Earth more than three billion years ago. Sapphires are a much younger gemstone formed only about 150 million years ago.
  • Jade was the royal gem in China, while the Egyptian Pharaohs prized lapis lazuli.
  • Peridot, another green gemstone favored by Cleopatra, is the oldest extra-terrestrial gemstone. Though we mine it from under the Earth, it has been found on meteorite landing sites and mineral samples collected from space.
  • Indians were the first to mine and use diamonds around 300 BC, used them as an ornamental stone.
  • Precious and semi-precious gemstones like emeralds, rubies, and sapphires were imported to the Roman and Greek Empires via India, Sri Lanka, and other Eastern countries via the Silk Road.

Types Of Gemstones

These stones can be classified into precious and semi-precious gemstones. The precious gems are diamond, emerald, ruby, and sapphire; these are mainly used in jewelry. All the other gems fall into the semi-precious category.

  • Gemologists have identified more than 2,000 natural gem minerals, of which just 100 are used as gemstones, amongst which only 16 are important.
  • These include diamond, beryl, chrysoberyl, corundum, jade, lazurite, garnet, blue topaz, and turquoise.
  • Pearls are among the oldest and most desirable gems for jewelry making and other decorative purposes. Unlike the other precious gemstones, the pearls are organically created in the sea.
  • It is a natural phenomenon that happens as a part of the defense mechanism of a mollusk shell.
  • There are almost 200 varieties of these gems, which are like a rare mineral in the world. Apart from the precious gems, numerous semi-precious ones are so rare that their value may be more than the most precious gems in the world.
  • Mexico produces both precious and common opal, also known as fire opal.
The Greeks used gems in jewelry around 1600 BC.

Uses Of Gemstones

From ancient times all the way to date, people have been using these unique stones primarily for jewelry and ornamental purposes. However, in various cultures all over the world, it is believed that gems have extraordinary power and healing properties.

  • Usage of gemstones as a birthstone is quite popular. Similarly, a diamond is a well-recognized symbol of love and commitment in the form of wedding rings.
  • Most gemstones are hard and can cut even the most complex materials. Diamond, garnet, and sapphire are the hardest.
  • Diamond is used in mining and petroleum drilling. Diamonds are used for cutting diamonds because they can't be cut with any other material.
  • Quartz is a must-have component in many electronic and scientific equipment. Quartz glassware can handle heat and cold without cracking and does not interact with light, making it perfectly transparent.
  • Quartz crystals are used in radios, clocks, watches, TVs, computers, and cell phones.
  • A gemstone was part of the healing process in many ancient cultures, either as an ingredient in ancient medicines or for positive energy.
  • There was a belief that a gemstone could emit energy, and it had to be used carefully to avoid any unwanted harmful effects. They were also used as ornamental stones and carved into boxes.

Gemstone Composition

Every gemstone forms uniquely.

  • Lapis Lazuli is a combination of various minerals; it contains a large amount of lazurite, calcite, sodalite, and pyrite.
  • Amber is a lightweight gem that can float in saltwater, and it forms with the resin and sap from prehistoric trees. Baltic amber is the strongest amber and is used for making jewelry.
  • Diamond is the toughest naturally occurring substance in nature. It is nothing but pure carbon, packed tightly in a cubic structure.
  • A diamond is usually colorless, but some diamonds display colors. The famous Hope Diamond is blue in color. Most diamonds come from the mines in Africa.
  • Ruby is a gem and a variety of corundum with a hardness of 9 Mohs. It gets red when chromic ions replace some aluminum ions in the crystal. The best rubies come from Myanmar and Kenya.
  • Sapphire, like ruby, is part of the corundum family, but instead of Cr impurities, it contains iron and titanium ions, which produce a blue color.
  • Emerald is a beryl gem with a hardness of 7.5-8 Mohs. It is one of the most costly gems and has a deep green color because of small amounts of chromic oxide.
  • Like emerald, aquamarine is a transparent variety of beryl and has a light blue to a bluish-green color.
  • You can think of gemstones as beautiful pieces of nature that can make for a piece of beautiful, valuable jewelry.
  • It takes a lot of money, effort, and time to mine these precious and semi-precious stones. They can be used for different purposes and offer many benefits.


What are gemstones made of?

Gemstones are made of minerals, rocks, or other organic materials and people choose them for their beauty and rarity. Fossilized wood is also used as a gem material. Different types of cutting and polishing produce different results. Most gemstones are extremely hard, but some are very soft, delicate, and showcased in museums.

Are gemstones crystals?

Gems are not crystals. They are made organically with organic matter. Crystals are pure substances with molecules and ions in a fixed arrangement. Classification of crystals depends on their geometric shape, such as cubic or hexagonal.

What does a gem look like?

Rough gemstones can look dull and even greasy. Their appearance is usually not shiny, but some gemstones can be glasslike, metallic, or silky. The true luster of a gemstone is witnessed only after the polish and cut.

What are the five main gemstones?

The most sought after five special stones are:

Diamond, emerald, ruby, sapphire, and amethyst.

What are the 12 gemstones in the Bible?

12 sacred stones from Revelations in the Bible are:

Topaz, sapphire, amethyst, jasper, chalcedony, jacinth, hrysolite, chrysoprase, sardonyx, sardius, emerald, and beryl.

What is the rarest gem on Earth?

Painite is considered the rarest gemstone and the rarest mineral on Earth. The stone was first discovered in 1951, and by 2004 less than two dozen painite samples were discovered.

What stone is better than a diamond?

Moissanite is an excellent alternative to diamond and has a higher refractive index resulting in more sparkle. In terms of rarity, emeralds are better than diamonds. The emerald stone is more expensive than a diamond of the same quality.

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Written by Oluwatosin Michael

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

Oluwatosin Michael picture

Oluwatosin MichaelBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

With a Bachelor's in Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Oluwatosin has honed his skills as an SEO content writer, editor, and growth manager. He has written articles, conducted extensive research, and optimized content for search engines. His expertise extends to leading link-building efforts and revising onboarding strategies. 

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