A gem or gemstone is a rough and uncut mineral which is collected, manipulated and then polished and ultimately turned into jewelry or some other type of decoration. Most gemstones form in the earth’s crust, at a depth of three to twenty-five miles(1). Only diamond and peridot form in the earth’s mantle. Most gemstones are formed beneath the earth’s surface, and are created when minerals react with water and then dissolve. The type of gemstone created depends on the types of minerals present as well as other factors such as temperature and pressure(2).
Typically there is an extensive search which takes place in order to find new sources of gemstones(3). In most cases it takes an expert to sift through the dirt and identify rough gemstones. There is a very high demand for these gemstones because of their rarity and because they are so difficult to find(4). Once the rough gemstones are collected they are cut and polished by skilled workers before they are made into the jewelry or other decorations. The skill of the worker and the quality of the initial gemstone are equally important, if a gemstone is not cut properly it will not be worth as much money.
Gemstones are typically sought out because of their intense colours and their sparkle. The bulk of the market for gemstones revolves around jewelry and decoration, but some people simply like to collect these stones. It can be an exciting hobby to take an interest in, but it can also be expensive, especially if you do not know what to look for and what you should be paying for certain stones. There are courses available online which most people are recommended to take if they wish to get into the gem collecting field. Knowing your gems could save you from making a costly mistake.
Typically most gemstones that are purchased by collectors come from some sort of retail store. Rough gemstones are available online but they are usually sold in large quantities, which is not practical for the average collector. This is part of what makes gem collecting such an expensive hobby. Other gemstones can be ordered online and can even be cut to fit your custom order.
Over the years gem collecting has continued to grow in popularity and there are actually massive meetings each year in various different states across North America where fellow gem collectors get together to discuss and compare their collections(5). These gemstones have been around for millions of years, and it seems that the demand for them will continue for many years to come.