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"Crystals and Gemstones" by Michael Star
a Crystals article in STAR SIGNS Astrology Zine

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Crystals and Gemstones

by Michael Star

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Quartz Crystal cluster

Back to the
Stone Age

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.

Micro Crystal 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.

Micro-Crystal 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

"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 Diamond.

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 forefathers encountered.

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 and loving.

© 1999 by Michael Star

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See Michael Star's article on "The New Age Stones".

See Michael McKnight's article on "Choosing a Crystal".

Link-to: | Page-TOP | Crystals Index | Ten Crystals for Stress | Ten Crystals for Women | Three Steps to Crystal Healing | Romancing the Stone | The New Age Stones | Choosing a Crystal | Crystals Books | Jewelry Bargains | Crystal Shop | SITE INDEX | HOME

STAR SIGNS Astrology Zine was published on www JUL 26 1996.
This page published on www MAR 06 1999 17:00 EST.
Last update January 04 2002 3:00 EST.

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(c)1999-2002 by Michael Star (All rights reserved.)
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