Gems and Minerals
I'm interested in learning about precious gems. But most of the sites I see are just online jewelry stores. Can you recommend any sites where I can get high quality information on gems and minerals?
Where Can I Learn About Gems and Minerals Online?
Depending on your definition of "gem" there may be as few as four or as many as 4000 types of gems. Diamond, emerald, ruby, and blue sapphire are the four "precious" gems, according to purist snobs. Another 130 or so minerals and mineraloids (like minerals but without rigid internal crystaline structures, i.e., opal) are durable enough for the jewelry trade. A hotly debated 3,000 to 4,000 natural substances are admired for their beauty and cut, polished, and/or mounted.
Don Clark, certified gemologist and founder of the International Gem Society says, "To heck with the definitions, if it makes your eyes light up it's a real gem!" It seems anything can be a real gem, then. To a microbiologist, raw sewage may be a real gem while diamond is just sterile, uninteresting stone. You may have been called "a real gem" sincerely or sarcastically.
Curiously, only four generally accepted gems are derived from living things: amber, fossilized resin (not sap); jet, a relative of coal; pearl, a bandage manufactured by molluscs; and coral, the exoskeletons of microscopic polyps. Ivory, the dentin of certain mammal teeth, is sometimes counted as a gem. Tortoise shell has been nominated, too.
Gems and Minerals - Where to Learn More
A search for any gem will yield many sources of information; most of them are sellers who specialize in a few varieties of gems and tell you only what they hope will make you buy. But there are online resources for the serious scientific and/or metaphysical student of gems.
If your interest in gems and minerals is purely scientific or commercial, your best resource may be the U.S. Geological Survey's Minerals pages.
The Farlang Gem & Diamond Foundation offers the full text of hundreds of rare, antique books about gems and minerals. Here you can learn about thousands of gems right down to their atomic structure; optical properties; thermal behaviors; geographic distribution and mining techniques; and esoteric meanings. Truly, this is a bottomless well of gem lore! You can also see stunning photographs of some of the world's finest, most famous gems.
Pearl-Guide.com contains over 50,000 Web pages of information about pearls: their history, chemical and physical properties, cultivation, varieties, mystical powers, etc.
AmberJewelry.com is a seller but has an excellent, long history of amber, perhaps the first substance humans used as a gem.
Australia's Opal Association is a trade association devoted to promoting the source of about 90 per cent of the world's gem-quality opals. But be aware that not all opal comes from Australia. There are literally hundreds of varieties including some found only in the United States. In Nevada's Virgin Valley, you can pay a fee, dig all day in a working opal mine, and keep whatever you find. Some folks come home with bucketfuls of opals valued at tens of thousands of dollars.
Do you have something to say about gems and minerals? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 25 Sep 2009
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Gems and Minerals (Posted: 25 Sep 2009)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved