are gems and crystals the same? Solved!

Gems and crystals are not the same. Gems are precious stones that are cut and polished for use in jewelry or decoration, while crystals are minerals or mineral-like substances that are formed into geometric shapes and used for their healing or spiritual properties. While some gems may also have metaphysical properties, not all gems are considered crystals.

In this article, we will discuss the differences between the two and explore their unique characteristics.

Definition of Gems and Crystals

The terms “gem” and “crystal” are often used interchangeably, but the two categories have unique characteristics and meanings. A gem is generally defined as a finely cut and shaped mineral or organic material that is presented in a beautiful fashion in jewelry or ornamental items.

It could be cut from a variety of materials, including diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, quartz, and other precious stones. Gems take a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors but they must be processed and cut to create the desired form.

Crystals are natural solids formed by an orderly arrangement of atoms within their molecular structure. They may be made up of single elements such as calcium carbonate (chalk), but many crystals are composed of more than one element such as quartz (colors come from trace impurities).

Crystals differ in shape–some appear massive while others feature planar surfaces with many sides like a cube or pyramid. Crystal forms reveal much about their origin which determines not only their external beauty but also their healing potential in metaphysical practice.

are gems and crystals the same

Types of Gems and Crystals

Gems and crystals are both part of the same family, known as mineral specimens. However, there are some major differences between the two. Gems are typically cut and polished, while crystals often remain in their raw form. Furthermore, gems tend to have a more varied color palette and crystal structures than crystals.

Let’s take a look at some of the types of gems and crystals.

Precious Stones

Precious stones are the rarest and most valuable of gems and crystals. The most popular precious stones include the big four: diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. Each stone is defined by subtle visual differences and categorization based on chemical properties.

Diamonds are the hardest natural material known to man; they are composed entirely of carbon atoms linked together in an almost perfect lattice structure.

Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow and are valued for their hardness, durability, luster, transparency (clarity), dispersion or sparkle factor (the way they refract light), and rarity.

Emeralds are composed mostly of beryllium aluminate with some vanadium or chromium that gives them their vivid green color. Fine-quality emeralds have a brilliant green color that is very desirable to jewelers as well as collectors.

Rubies come in many shades of red ranging from dark red to bright red-orange color. Rubies also have a hard surface which makes them highly resistant to scratches, wear, and tear over time. The most desirable color for rubies is a deep rich red with a high degree of transparency (clarity).

Lastly, sapphires are made up almost exclusively of aluminum oxide with trace amounts of chromium or iron adding blue or pink hues respectively to their natural color.

Sapphires can come in any hue apart from red which would designate it as ruby instead; white sapphires don’t exist either as they would denote ‘plain’ diamond quality gems–which lack enough zing to sparkle beautifully as their named variations do!

All precious stones must have excellent clarity (no visible flaws under magnification) as well as intense color saturation in order to command high prices making them ideal for jewelry creation–while non-precious gems may be cheaper but often do not possess quite enough ‘zing’ when worn next to diamonds which nobody can resist!

Semi-Precious Stones

Semi-precious stones are usually used to adorn jewelry and are more affordable than precious stones. Many semi-precious materials can also be polished and fashioned into cabochons or set in bezels.

They make beautiful individual stones or can be combined to make breathtaking pieces of jewelry. Semi-precious stones come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and compositions, including organic materials such as amber and pearls and crystalline forms such as agate, quartz, and turquoise. Some common examples of these beautiful stones include:

Amber – A translucent yellow material made from a fossilized tree resin that comes in a wide range of colors ranging from orange to dark brown. It is believed to represent courage, strength, and wisdom from ancient times.

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Amethyst – A violet-colored quartz that is long believed to exude calming energy. Its color is said to symbolize good judgment in ancient tradition.

Carnelian – This bright orange-colored stone promotes physical health while healing the body’s emotional wounds through its strong energy field. In Ancient Egypt, it was a sign of rejuvenation due to its color representing blood and fertility.

Citrine – Citrine is a transparent yellowish quartz that has healing properties due to its sunny disposition associated with joyfulness and abundance. Ancient Romans used citrine as an offering to their gods as they believed it amounted to good luck when carried with them daily.

Garnet – This gemstone comes in many varieties most commonly red or nearly black— but also appears in peach or purple hues depending on its composition elements such as iron or other minerals. Historically Garnet represents loyalty, faithfulness, and inspiration among other traits.

Natural Crystals

Although commonly used interchangeably, the terms gemstone and crystal differ in that gemstones are generally considered to be pieces of mineral-based jewelry, while crystals are naturally occurring minerals or gems found in nature.

Gemstones are typically processed and shaped into cuts and facets as they may appear internally flawed or not unsuitable, while crystals tend to keep their natural shape.

Although some gemstones may be considered crystals due to their crystalline structure (e.g., quartz), not all natural crystals can be classified as gemstones. Types of natural crystals include:

-Crystal quartz: One of the most common types of crystal, this type is transparent or transparent quartz with a variety of shapes and colors, ranging from pale yellow to deep red and purple.

-Tourmaline: This is a popular stone because it has the ability to generate an electric charge when heated or exposed to pressure and contains various color combinations including black, green, pink-red, and yellow.

-Kyanite: A metamorphic mineral that exhibits different colors based on its orientation; often blue but can also be green, white, or grayish black.

-Amethyst: A type of quartz characterized by its light violet hue; often found naturally in volcanic regions in Brazil as well as North America.

-Citrine: A yellowish crystalline form of quartz characterized by its bright orange hues; derived from iron impurities present in natural sources pastel pink copper deposits hypothermal veins etcetera.

Synthetic Crystals

Crystals and gems are often confused, but the two are actually quite different. In addition to real, natural crystals and gems, synthetic crystals have gained popularity in recent years.

Synthetic gems and crystals are man-made rocks, created by combining the structure of a natural crystal or gem with the properties of another crystalline material.

Synthetic crystals can be ideal for those wanting to use them for crystal healing or other spiritual purposes as they mirror many of the properties found in their genuine counterparts. However, it is worth noting that some believe synthetic materials have less power than genuine ones. A few popular types of synthetic crystals include:

  • Cubic Zirconia (CZ): A synthetic diamond simulant with artificial diamonds that appear very similar to natural diamonds under magnification
  • Glass Crystals: Colorless or colored glass formed with certain chemical compounds mixed together that catch light similarly to quartz or opal
  • Labradorite & Spectrolite: Formed through a process where minerals bond together when subjected to heat and then cooled quickly; similar in look and hardness to labradorite
  • Synthetic Quartz: Created in a lab like CZ, but with the same structure as natural quartz helps retain its healing properties; clear or optically pure

Differences between Gems and Crystals

Gems and crystals are often confused with each other, but they are actually very different. Gems are pieces of cut and polished minerals, while crystals are naturally formed minerals that have not been cut or polished. Both can be found in nature, but there are distinct differences between them.

In this article, we will look at the differences between gems and crystals.


Gems and crystals are both precious natural materials, with many similar attributes, making them difficult to tell apart. The formation is one factor that distinguishes the two.

Gems form when a mineral settles within rock or soil and hardens over time. It is this hardening process — known as crystallization — that gives gems their shape and luster. These shapes can range anywhere from organic shapes such as pearls to more modern cuts like the princess cut diamond.

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Crystals are also formed when minerals solidify via crystallization, however, they must meet very specific requirements in order to be classified as a crystal.

Crystals must grow to utilize symmetrical patterns that often include perfect geometrical shapes like cubes or pyramids. They tend to have many sides at various metallic angles, adding to their overall sparkle. Because they require such precision under specific environments, large crystals are less common than gems and thus carry a higher value.

Physical Properties

Gems and crystals both have unique physical properties that set them apart from other materials.

Though they are often seen as the same, gems and crystals actually have several distinct differences. From chemical compositions to physical characteristics, let’s explore the ways in which these two materials differ.

Physical Properties: Gems tend to be hard and resistant to scratching, while crystals are generally smooth with a softer surface. Gems often appear dull in color and can be faceted or cut into distinct shapes.

Crystals often have a greater surface luster and can appear optically clear or semi-transparent to translucent. Additionally, most gems are heavier than crystals due to their higher density.

Chemical Composition: Gemstones usually contain protein-based compounds such as silica and carbon, while crystals may contain metallic elements like copper or zinc depending on the type of crystal.

Additionally, some gems may also include non-metallic elements such as sulfur or oxygen in their composition. In contrast, most crystals lack this wide variety of elements found in gemstones making them generally less diverse than gems when it comes to characteristics like color or appearance.


Colors displayed in gems and crystals differ due to various factors such as composition, elements present, oxidation by atmospheric conditions and pressure. When looking at a gem, one will see variations in its certain attributes, including color.

Crystals on the other hand are usually translucent or transparent with many displaying a different range of colors when moved into light effused at different angles. Gemstones tend to have more vibrant tones; however, this is not always true depending on the stone’s origin and processing history.

Crystals can also display a multitude of natural effects that vary from surface texture, rutiles streaks, or spray-like patterns to internal features called inclusions or growth zoning. Furthermore, crystals often feature natural imperfections called blemishes that make them unique from one another compared to gemstones cut for clarity perfection with no blemishes in sight.

When it comes to color saturation it generally depends on which stone is being used; some stones have richer deeper color displays than others due to their composition and formation process; this is what makes them so hardy and mineralogical impressive showing an array of inclusions embedded within their structure.


The cost of gems and crystals varies greatly based on a variety of factors. Generally speaking, precious stones, such as diamonds and rubies, are more expensive than semi-precious ones like amethyst or garnet. There are also differences in price depending on the type of gem or crystal – for example, natural sapphires have a much higher value than lab-created ones.

The size of the stone also makes a difference with larger stones being more expensive than small ones. Natural color stones tend to be more valuable than heat-treated or dyed stones. Clarity and cut quality also factor into the cost, with better clarity and cut giving greater value to the stone.

When buying crystals, it’s important to note that some varieties may be artificially colored but still maintain their value in terms of healing benefits and energy vibration. In this case, color does not play as large a role in setting prices as with gems. Some popular crystal types include quartz, selenite, amethyst, citrine, and malachite – each having its own unique properties which affect its cost significantly.

Uses of Gems and Crystals

Gems and crystals have been used in various cultures for centuries, and they are still popular today.

Crystals are used for their metaphysical properties and healing purposes, while gems are also used for jewelry and as an investment, among other things.

In this section, let’s explore the different uses of gems and crystals.


Gems and crystals are closely related. While they share many of the same components, they serve different purposes. Generally speaking, gems are formed by elements being important in a rock otherwise known as a mineral.

Crystals however are formed by minerals being exposed to certain temperatures and pressures that cause them to form regular geometric shapes and arrangements called crystal lattices.

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When it comes to jewelry, gems can refer to both mined or synthetic stones including diamonds, rubies, sapphires, zirconia, and more whereas crystals refer almost exclusively to those that have been deliberately cut or faceted into ornamental shapes for decorative purposes such as Swarovski crystals.

While gems may be used for spiritual healing or decoration with many cultures seeing them as having spiritual energies and/or healing properties; crystals tend not to be used in this way due to their dimensions being too small for the eye to perceive any design incorporated into the surface of their facets like more traditional gems cut specifically jewel crafting.

In general, they’re simply considered beautiful stones chosen more on aesthetic grounds rather than any metaphysical ability they may possess.


Crystals and gems both have many healing benefits. It is believed that these minerals contain energy or frequency as they are formed by the earth, and when certain ones are in close contact with the body, they can help to restore balance and regulate the energy of the body returning it to optimum health. Although some overlap exists, different types of gems and crystals can be used for specific therapeutic purposes.

Gems: Gemstones are often natural minerals that have been cut and polished into a gemstone. They come in a wide range of colors and sizes accentuated by their reflective light. Specific precious gems such as diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, rubies, opals, etc., possess many powers attributed to them including healing qualities. For example, Garnet is known as a powerfully energizing stone that helps to transform negative feelings into positive ones while Jade is used to nurturing love in an environment of abundance and joy.

Crystals: Crystals are any solid substance whose structure is repeated at regular intervals in all directions so that each atom has neighbors whose positions are identical to its own making it symmetrical throughout its structure.

Specifically used for healing purposes like gems, crystals offer different types of benefits based on their physical properties i.e stones with curves hold energy well whereas large flat stones are good for projecting energy outwardly over large areas or for gridding structures like home or office spaces against negativity or influences from outside sources (geopathic stress).

Quartz is one type of crystal renowned for amplifying positive energy while Amethyst helps a person tap into their power from within themselves providing spiritual protection during meditation or journeying.


Both gems and crystals have long been used in the art of decorating, whether it is to adorn clothing, jewelry, or even around the home. Gems are typically larger stones, while crystals can appear in smaller forms and may contain irregular, interlocking shapes rather than just one shape or uniform cut.

Gems have been popular around the world since ancient times while crystals have particularly been popular within spiritual circles since they can reportedly provide healing energy.

When selecting whatever type of decoration you wish to use, it is important to research the properties of each gem or crystal. This can help you decide which will be the best for your desired purpose and effect.


In conclusion, it is clear that there are differences between gems and crystals. While a gem is a cut and polished mineral that is used for ornamentation and jewelry, a crystal is a naturally occurring solid material composed of atoms arranged in a regular three-dimensional pattern.

Crystals come in all shapes, sizes, and colors whereas gems are usually associated with gemstones of certain colors.

Both gems and crystals have unique properties such as beauty, rarity, and energy that make them valuable for different reasons.

Ultimately, despite their similarities both can be used to bring healing and balancing energies into your life but it’s important to know the difference between the two before making any purchasing decisions.

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