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Minerals, crystals and gemstones – where is the difference

Jun 28, 2023

The terms crystals, minerals and gemstones are often used synonymously, but they actually have different properties and meanings. Therefore, we would like to shed some light and briefly present the differences here.

Simplified, it can be said that minerals are natural solid materials with a certain chemical composition that occur in the earth, such as rocks and ores. During the development of our planet, minerals were not distributed evenly, but local accumulations occurred. This led to the fact that, for example, the Ore Mountains in Saxonia are known for their silver mines, or the Minas Gerais region in Brazil for its colored gemstones. Lapis lazuli, on the other hand, a wonderful blue mineral, has so far only been found in Afghanistan and Chile.

  • Lapis lazuli from Afghanistan at the Munich Show 2022

Under certain conditions, the molecules of minerals in the earth arrange themselves perfectly along their intended atomic structures and crystals are formed. These conditions essentially include sufficient time. We are talking about periods of time over hundreds of thousands or even millions of years. Crystals are formed in various ways, for example, by volcanic eruptions, when magma cools, or when substances crystallize out of solutions.

Crystals are also what have become sought-after collector’s items due to their rarity and their infinite variety of colors and shapes. Perfectly crystallized minerals, which are in addition of unusual size or purity, can achieve enormous prices in collector circles.

  • Wonderful stibnite from Romania

Gemstones, in turn, are a subgroup of minerals that are initially characterized by a particular hardness. On the so-called Mohs scale of 1 to 10, those with a hardness of 8 or more are called gemstones. These are: Diamond, Ruby, Emerald and Sapphire. Stones with lower hardness are also called semi-precious stones. However, the classic distinction is becoming increasingly blurred by a largely undifferentiated use of the term “gemstone” to refer to all cut stones.

  • Cut aquamarines at the Munich Show 2022

The purity and often accompanying transparency made the gemstones coveted treasures for centuries. In cut form, they adorned crowns, scepters and robes as symbols of power. Even today, the largest and purest gemstones are used by luxury designers in haute-volé jewelry.

The Munich Show is a unique meeting place in the world to experience the diversity of minerals, crystals and gemstones. From the simplest rocks used for further processing to an endless variety of unique collector crystals and the most valuable cut stones from all over the world, everything can be seen there in one weekend.