Jewelry in a store window sparkles and shines. Beautiful polished stones called gems are set in bracelets, necklaces, rings, and other jewelry. Diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires are some popular gems that sparkle.
There is a gem called a birthstone for every month of the year. A birthstone is a symbol of the month when you were born. Do you know what your birthstone is?
WHAT DO GEMS LOOK LIKE?
Gems come in different colors. Diamonds are clear. Rubies are red. Emeralds are green. Sapphires are blue.
Some gems have patterns or different colors. You can see what looks like an eye in the gems called tiger’s-eye and cat’s-eye. You see different colors in an opal when you move it around.
Gems found in nature do not look much like the gems you see in jewelry. Experts cut gems to make them sparkle and look beautiful. They cut gems so that the stones have several flat sides. They use grinding wheels and grinding disks to cut gems. Then they polish the gems.
It is not easy to cut a diamond. Diamond is the hardest material in nature. Only another diamond will cut a diamond. Diamond cutters use saws made of diamond. They use grinding wheels covered with diamond powder.
WHERE DO GEMS COME FROM?
Most gems are rare minerals. Minerals are natural materials, not made by living things. You can find some gems in solid rocks. People dig up gems in mines. They also find them by sifting through sand or other loose soil.
Different gems come from different parts of the world. Most diamonds come from Australia, Africa, and Russia. Rubies and sapphires come from Southeast Asia. Emeralds and topaz come from South America. Turquoise comes from the southwestern United States.
Pearls are a kind of gem that is not a mineral. Pearls come from oysters. Oysters form pearls around irritating bits of material that get inside the oyster.
There are also gems that people make. These gems are called artificial gems.
Source: Microsoft ® Encarta