Crystals and Gemstones
Back to the
Stones have been around since long before the Stone
Age, so what are "The New Age" stones? First, we
should define what "stones" means in the
context of Mineralogy. We'll be talking about the kind of
stones referred to in phrases like "gem stones" or
"semi-precious stones" or "tumbled
stones". These "stones" are minerals which are crystalline in nature and always form in one of six types of regular shapes or patterns, such as the common
Quartz crystal which has a hexagonal (six-sided) structure.
Some types of stones, such as Jadeite or Turquoise, may
not appear like the typical transparent crystal because their
crystal-like structure is at a microscopic level, not visible
to the naked eye. If you could see them through a powerful
microscope, you would see they are composed of tiny crystals
arranged in a regular pattern. These are called
"microcrystalline" stones; but the term "stones"
generally refers both to transparent crystalline substances
like Amethyst or Diamond, and to semi-transparent or opaque
microcrystalline substances like Agate or Opal or Pearl.
Common table salt is also a crystalline stone, but the
crystals are so small you may not have noticed! Ice is a
crystal too, which is why snowflakes and frost always form in
six-sided patterns just as Quartz and many other crystals do!
Stones are always homogeneous in their
composition, which means that no matter how small a piece you
look at, it will have exactly the same proportion of the
various chemical compounds from which the mineral is formed.
In other words, all pieces are made of the same kinds of
molecules and all those molecules arrange themselves in the
same type of regular, repeated pattern. A Diamond is composed
of just one kind of molecule called Carbon; Halite, a natural
water-soluble form of salt, is composed of two types called
Sodium and Chlorine; and an Emerald or Ruby is a mixture of several different types of molecules.
Rocks differ from stones in that a rock like
Granite or Sodalite is non-homogeneous, which means it is composed of different minerals in varying proportions, in
no regular pattern. Any piece will be slightly different from
any other piece. All crystals are stones, whether they are
clear "gem stones" like Emerald or the more common form of the same mineral, Green Beryl. Rocks may contain
crystals, and small rocks are sometimes called stones; but
technically, stones are always a single kind of crystal and
not a piece of rock.
Some crystals contain tiny amounts of impurities on the form of trace elements which affect their coloration; such as the Chromium molecules which give the Corundum crystal a red coloration and create the variety known as Red Corundum - which is called Ruby when found in a clear gem-quality form.
Rock, or Not?
A Diamond is often called a "rock" in everyday
language, but in the terminology of Mineralogy it is a
"stone" - which is why it is called a "gem stone". Clear Quartz crystals are often called
"Rock Crystal", which sounds confusing, since we
just agreed that all crystals are stones, and stones are not
rocks! (The "Rolling Stones" rock, but they are
human rockers, not real rocks.) Actually, rocks are often
composed of several types of crystals in varying proportions,
but in the case of "Rock Crystal" the Quartz crystal is 100% pure crystal (Silicon Dioxide), so the term is a
misleading one. So is the term "Rock Candy", for it
is really 100% pure sugar, and sugar is a crystal too! The
same goes for "rock salt", although rock salt,
unlike pure table salt, often has other minerals mixed in -
and that could qualify it as a rock, on a mere technicality.
To further confuse things, when someone says something is
"cast in stone" it was probably engraved in a rock
like granite - the rock which often becomes a "grave
stone". It's enough to make you rock and reel, as your
brain is baffled by all this oxymoronic rock talk! Sometimes
you could almost stone the people who make up these terms
which misuse and confuse the "rock" terminology,
but then every stone thrown would probably be a rock!
"Gem stones" or "gems" are stones
which are identical in chemical composition to the common
variety of the same mineral; but are considered valuable
because of their beauty and relative rarity, often because
they are perfectly clear and reflect the light in pretty
colors. A "Ruby" is a rare and very valuable
transparent "gem stone" specimen of a stone called Red Corundum. A perfectly clear red Ruby is very rare, which is why a perfect Ruby often costs more than a perfectly clear
The common black variety of the same stone,
Corundum, is used as a "whet-stone" to sharpen
knives and tools. A Sapphire is another variety of Corundum,
differing from a Ruby only by the tiny quantities of trace
minerals which give it a blue or white coloration instead of
red. The "Star Sapphires", which get the "star" effect from tiny linear crystals included inside them, are quite rare in nature. Most of the ones you see are man-made imitations created from the same elements, and which cost much less than a natural Star Sapphire.
Amethyst and Citrine are "semi-precious"
gem-stone varieties of the common Quartz crystal, which
differ only by their coloration. Emerald and Aquamarine are
two varieties of the mineral Beryl which differ only by trace
mineral content and color.
Back to the Future
Some stones discovered in the twentieth century were not known to the ancients or to our ancestors, for they were not
needed then. Their state of consciousness, or the state of
their world, was a different one from ours in this nearing New
Age. Atomic energy, and nuclear weapons, were not part of our
world until the 1940s. Television was not widely available
until the 1950s, and personal computers were not available
until the 1980s. These are modern developments which have
transformed our world into a different world than our
Some of "The New Age Stones", like Kunzite and Sugelite, have come to
our attention in this time period to help us attune ourselves
to the energies we need to cope with this new world and
transform it into a better world. They are especially
helpful to the new generations of children who will grow up
in this new world, adapt to it, and transform it in ways
which reflect their own awareness and their own way of living