The World's Most Useful
Gem & Jewelry Monthly Newsletter
Written by Carolyn Doyle for customers of
The Dorado Company
and other visitors to the azgem.com website who subscribe.
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Usable Gems... and a little opinion.
Fred and I want to express our deep sorrow and condolences for all those that have experienced traumatic injuries, as well as the loss of loved ones and friends in the great tragedies that took place in our nation on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.
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In this newsletter I often refer to gem crystals, crystal structure, and similar terms. I've recently been asked, "what do you mean by gem crystal"?
In the April, 2001 newsletter we discussed the beauty, rarity, value, and other attributes that make a gem a gem.
To understand gem crystals we have to dabble in the physical sciences… but not too deep.
A gem crystal is a gem whose building blocks are naturally arranged in an orderly fashion.
Gem crystals are usually made of mineral compounds. Compounds are mixtures of more than one element.
Gem crystals can grow when volcanic activity melts minerals and turns them to liquids or gases. As the materials slowly cool, the crystals form over time.
Many gems are made up of the most common elements on earth. It's the way the atoms are arranged that makes them unique.
The most common elements that nature uses to make gem crystals are listed here, along with their chemical label:
- Si - Silicon
- Al - Aluminum
- Mg - Magnesium
- Fe - Iron
- Ti - Titanium
- B - Boron
- Be - Beryllium
- Na - Sodium
- K - Potassium
- Ca - Calcium
- F - Florine
- Cr - Chromium
- Mn - Manganese
- C- Carbon
- O - Oxygen
Some examples of chemical formulas for gem crystals are…
- Quartz gems - SiO2, or one atom of silicon and two atoms of oxygen
- Corundum (ruby and sapphire) - Al2O3
- Spinel - BeAl2O4
- Beryl (emerald, aquamarine, etc.) - Be3Al2Si6O18
The beryls have a complicated formula, that gets more complicated because chromium or vanadium must be added to produce emerald, and iron rather than chromium must be present to produce aqua.
The atoms in gem crystals are held together by atomic bonding.
Atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Atomic bonding occurs when the atoms exchange or share an electron.
When the atoms bond they naturally arrange themselves in regular, repeated patterns. Sort of like a fancy tile floor, but in three dimensions.
The patterns can vary for the same atoms, depending on the heat and pressure that was present as the crystal formed. (This bit of knowledge becomes important in the field of gem treatment.)
So, gem crystals are mineral compounds whose atoms are arranged is symmetrical patterns.
An example of a gem that isn't a crystal is opal. Opal is "amorphous," meaning the building blocks are arranged in random order, sort of like gumballs in a machine.
If you haven't checked out the 7-mm stud earrings featured on our website, now is a good time to take a look..
The earrings are great, and so are the low prices!
Don't forget, we're offering free shipping on all orders over $99.
Just deduct the shipping charge when you fill out the order form. If you forget, we'll deduct it for you.
Until next month… please, visit me anytime at AZGem.com for a great selection of colored gems at great prices.
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The Dorado Company
P.O. Box 8232
Scottsdale, AZ 85252-8232