The Scoop on Raw Gems

The term raw gems refers to gemstones in their uncut, natural state. You may have also heard uncut stones being referred to as “rough”. These two terms mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably.

Gemstone Types

Gemstones can be grouped in many ways. Some people group them according to color while other people may group them according to appearance or texture. There’s really no wrong way to group them. It just depends on what makes them easier for you to understand. Here, we are grouping them according to what they are comprised of and how they were formed.

Crystalline and Amorphous

This is one of the most common distinctions people make. A crystalline gemstone is one that has a distinct crystal-like structure. This structure can be seen when it is examined under a microscope. Some examples of crystalline gemstones would be rubies, diamonds and sapphires.

An amorphous gemstone is made up of a mixture of different substances that have been hardened and fused together. Therefore they have no definite structure. Examples of amorphous gems are turquoise, jet and ivory.

The Scoop on Raw Gems

Organic and Inorganic

Most raw gems are made up of inorganic material. This means that the minerals or materials that form them are non living. Almost all of the most commonly recognized stones, such as diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and rubies, are classified as inorganic.

An organic gem is one that can be linked to a living organism. In the case of organic gems, once living material has been changed over time into a stone. Some examples would be:

Amber -Formed from tree sap that has been fossilized over many years.

Jet -This is a form of coal. Coal, in turn, is a mineral from decayed plant matter.

Pearls -These are formed when a mussel or oyster coats a foreign object with a substance known as nacre (pronounced “nacker”). Over time, the layers of nacre form a pearl.

Coral -This is created by sea life. It is the tiny skeletal remains of coral polyps.

Minerals and Rocks

Raw gems that are minerals are comprised of a single element or compound and are the same throughout. Most widely recognized stones fit into this category. Some examples would be amethyst, garnet, and ruby.

Conversely, raw gems that are considered rocks are a mixture of minerals that have hardened together. Technically, rocks are not truly gemstones at all. However, some rocks have acquired the term “gemstone” due to their attractiveness and common use in jewelry. Some examples of these would include lapis, jasper and onyx.

Raw gems can also be grouped into what are known as gemstone families or gemstone species. Some of these include:

  • Diamonds
  • Corundum species-includes Ruby and Sapphire
  • Beryl species-includes Emerald and Aquamarine
  • Chrysoberyl-includes Alexandrite
  • Quartz-includes Amethyst, Citrine and Tiger’s Eye

Outside of those set into jewelry, you will usually find gems in one of two forms. The first are loose faceted gemstones The second are raw gems, also known as rough or rough gemstones. A person looking to buy gems in either of these forms is usually a collector or a jeweler.