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Cut Gemstones
Credit: Alvonzo Zone


Polished gemstones
Credit: Adrian Pingstone

An ornamental, often valuable, mineral used for decoration in jewelry, small objects and clothing. Gems are found in alluvial deposits and dug from veins. Major mining locations include Sri Lanka, southeast Asia, South Africa, Australia, Russia, Brazil and Colombia. Gemstones are characterized based on their color, clarity, cut and weight. Stones of exceptional size, beauty or rarity are highly valued. Techniques for cutting and polishing gemstones were developed in India in the 14th century. Gemstones can usually be classified into three types:

Gemstone facet cuts

Synonyms and Related Terms

gemstones; gem; gem; ædelsten (Dan.); Schmucksteine (Deut.); gema (Esp.); gemme (Fr.); edelsteen (Ned.); gema (Port.); Ädelsten (Sven.)


Properties of Common Gemstones

Natural and Simulated Diamonds

Resources and Citations

  • C.W.Chesterman, K.E.Lowe, Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and Minerals, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979
  • The Dictionary of Art, Grove's Dictionaries Inc., New York, 1996 Comment: Gems: cutting. by Ken Scaratt

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