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Beautiful durable and...common?
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Tom Mazanec

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PostPosted: Jan 12, 2021 13:50    Post subject: Beautiful durable and...common?  

My gem books say gem minerals must be beautiful, durable and rare. Are there any "gemstones" which are common? They would still make nice, cheap costume jewelry.
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PostPosted: Jan 12, 2021 15:09    Post subject: Re: Beautiful durable and...common?  

Hi, Tom

Some are certainly common, at least depending on you place "common"...
Citrines are bought by the Kg (well, by carat, but in big bags... And not the burnt amethysts... But citrines (pale in colour, when young, mounted in microfusion silver...More or less by the Kg, and sold for near nothing,... In Andalusia...).
Aventurine and tiger eye are also not uncommon....
Blue (irradiated ...) topaz is also not exactly uncommon... and colorless sapphire is, well , say that common and cheap
And I suppose that I may find some more....

With best wishes

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PostPosted: Jan 12, 2021 19:23    Post subject: Re: Beautiful durable and...common?  

Terms like Common and Rare are often misused in all markets but can have very specific definitions. For example in philately a rare stamp means one that only a half dozen known examples exist. Many buyers and sellers use these terms to bargain for a price advantage in their favour. So be careful when focusing on such terms.

Quartz is beautiful and durable as well as being extremely common. However crystal clear quartz is obviously a subset so not as common as the chunk of white quartz you find in your garden or a river bed. You are talking about gemstones, which going back to definitions is defined as being a clear form of the mineral. Clarity is one of the C’s governing a gemstone and its value. There are very few exceptions like opals and star sapphires where clarity is not desirable in the same way as it is with say diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, topazes, etc.
Quartz can also be considered a gemstone when is meets all the C criteria. NOT all quartz can be considered a gemstone though. Sapphires, garnets, zircons and topaz can all be found easily in river gravels in the appropriate locations. To be considered a gemstone ALL the C criteria must be met, colour, clarity, carats, cut. Pretty much any rock you pick up that you cant break in your hand can be cut to a shape. But it can’t be considered a gemstone because it will fail at the other criteria.

Yes “common” gemstones abound and are used in cheaper jewellery as well as fashions like handbag accents. Most minerals find markets that accomodate the quality of the mineral. Garnet, sapphire and diamond are widely used in industry as abrasives (anywhere from large pieces used in rock cutting/drilling applications, to “sandpapers” you buy at your local hardware store to powdered particle sizes for polishing compounds. Not exactly glamorous, but technically accurate. The non-gemstone forms where exist are the ones most often used in those areas but the gemstones grade ones which cant be used as gemstones for some reason also end up in those areas too. Corundum is the mineral that in its clear form is called a sapphire and dodgy sellers often label corundum as sapphire/ruby as well as beryl as emerald. Sapphires and rubies ARE corundum and emeralds ARE beryl but the reverse is NOT true. All gemstones are inherently pricey for both the labour cost of obtaining the natural specimen and the long costly process of cutting a gemstone (where the symmetry is important and cutting angles vital in order for the stone to refract and reflect light in an appealing manner).

Add to these is the more recent confusion created by various minerals being able to be artificially “lab grown” and colour enhanced. Chemically these are identical the the mineral as found in nature and labelled as “natural X” X being the gem being claimed but many mineral collectors like on this forum would consider it incorrect and unethical to label such an item as natural. So if you are looking to buy cheap gemstones be careful about the claims made. Plus the jewellery markets are still controlled to a large extent to keep the large carat stones off the market keeping market prices high. The point of jewellery is to draw attention to themselves and thus the wearer which is why you dont see wedding rings sporting a large 3ct greasy grey raw diamond as its just not attractive, while a 3ct clear well cut diamond seems to amplify whatever amount of light its in and sparkle brightly. So as many genuine raw gemstones can be large the condition they are found in means they are likely destined to be cut to for the jewellery markets. A large amount of the weight is lost in this process plus the surface abrasions can hide internal fractures that later split the piece during cutting. So the gem when found is at its least value, and gains value as it travels and is transformed to a piece of jewellery. Every step requires skills and knowledge which factors into its price . But as I’ve said there are many fraudsters out there. So buyer beware is vitally important.

Talking about gemstones (being an artificially shaped mineral) some here would also want this thread locked as its against the terms of the forum. All gemstones start as mineral crystal likely naturally broken from the host rock and tend to end up in rivers where they get broken and roughly rounded by the action of the water and sands etc and someone through various means can find it . It requires luck and skill for someone to find each and every stone, the sort of fossicking many here do often. Something you can do yourself with a little research and enthusiasm to get outdoors and get a little dirty. Will it make you rich? Not likely but not impossible either.

As Lluis pointed out citrine and amethyst are cheap common “gemstones”, both are forms of quartz And commonly seen as large cut stones in cheap jewellery. They are also commonly artificially lab grown as well as colour enhanced. Tumbled stones are usually genuinely natural stones and often found as cheap pendants. Then theres the new age idiot market who attach all sorts of extra marketing names to stone real or sythetic, they are parasites to the rock hound hobby. Quartz and all its varients can be lab grown plus be gemstones as well as common. Hope that answers.

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PostPosted: Jan 12, 2021 22:14    Post subject: Re: Beautiful durable and...common?  

I think people confuse the terms "precious stone" and "gemstone". A gem can be any stone used for adornment, ranging from very rare and expensive to abundant and cheap, whereas a "precious" stone referred traditionally only to the most expensive stones, ruby, sapphire, emerald, and diamond, with some jewelers also including opal and others not. All other gems were termed "semi-precious", a term I hate because it really has no meaning, being used for everything from expensive spinels, jadeite, and tanzanite to cheap garnets and amethysts, and ultra-cheap agates and jasper. And as these terms are not precisely defined, people can argue endlessly about what is or is not included, to very little purpose other than demonstrating who has the best marketing skills.

"Rare gem" means different things to different groups too. Among gemstone collectors, "rare gems" are the ones that are rarely cut, and very difficult to cut, and can include even things that could not possibly ever be used in jewelry, so a faceted selenite or calcite qualifies as a "rare gem" for collectors even though the mineral itself is exceedingly common.
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PostPosted: Jan 12, 2021 23:13    Post subject: Re: Beautiful durable and...common?  

My point exactly. We all seem to be speaking slightly different languages. As the original poster did not include any context for the question, or what exactly this “gem book” is, it's tricky to give a simple clear answer. Lack of a clear common definition of a term only leads to confusion instead of a useful dialogue.

I have never known of a mineralogical specific definition of the term Rare or Common. I understand where you are coming from Alfredo though. I can't say I’ve ever seen a faceted gem of calcite, polished balls yes. Faceted gems of quartz are likewise uncommon in my experience though quartz itself is so common. Part of what I wanted to allude to is is the costs at all levels from finding to assessing to faceting a stone and for many the time and cost of faceting something like quartz is just not worth the bother, it is though a good stone for learning lapidary with and the skills involved with a well-faceted gem are learned hands on and practicing on valuable stones is not practical. Its why Cut is one of the big Cs of gemstones, the Cs are simple to define but very complex to use and are very specifically defined in the gem trade.

Personally I dislike the practice of labeling things with simple terms because everyone has specific expectations often from those terms, but as I said its a practice used in order to gain a financial advantage in a transaction at the most innocent level, like “new & improved” on a chocolate bar as a marketing ploy. While its common to outright deceive buyers, eg calling a corundum a sapphire. So not knowing the context of the original posters question, I tried to cover all bases, including letting them know we are aware of the typical scams if they were looking to post an advertisement here. The way things are called or labelled is particularly a nerve for me as I am physically disabled, the entire left half of my body is 70% paralyzed and the world of assistive technologies is rife with scammers selling regular cheap product as medically certified versions at ten times the price.
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