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The Beauty of Gemstones

From as far back as we can trace, we have been adorning ourselves with beautiful objects. Our rings, bracelets and necklaces have been around for thousands of years. The oldest jewelery comes from graves perhaps 20,000 years old, and consists of shell, bone, and ivory necklaces. Then, in later years gemstones were used to display wealth and status.

What are Gemstones?
Gemstones are naturally occurring minerals that have formed in a variety of environments within the earth. They are selected for their beauty and are generally rare enough to be valuable and sufficiently durable to last at least a few generations. Minerals have a definite chemical composition and ordered atomic arrangement so that their physical and optical properties are constant or vary only within narrow limits. These properties, such as density and refraction, can be measured accurately and are used to identify a mineral. Ideally, gemstones should be hard and unaffected by temperatures, pressures, abrasive dusts, and chemicals encountered in our everyday lives.

Light is the catalyst that brings out the beauty in gemstones. As light shines through the mineral it brings out the intense colors of ruby, sapphire and emerald. The sparkle of a diamond and the rainbow colors of an opal are only evident when light reflects at the surface. Other gems gain a radiant quality from light being scattered and reflected from its interior, as seen in the subtle soft glow of moonstone.

Rarity determines the worth of gemstones. The more rare they are the more we desire to possess them. The fantastic values placed on the great gems of the world also influence the prices of gems displayed in every jewelery store window. Values vary with fashions and fluctuate with public demand. Certain cultures place a great deal of emphasis on jewellery, and the availability of a particular gem can severely affect the price.

By Natasha Morgan for Not Just the Kitchen

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