These terms come to define the way we have to find a gem; we can buy it loose, we can have bought it already assembled in a jewel, it can even come from a long time ago from an old piece; we will always have the certainty that this gem may be any of the possibilities I mentioned before. This nomenclature has always been confusing, sometimes due to ignorance of the seller and others due to intentional omission; that’s why I keep insisting that the main quality that should be sought from a jeweler should be trust. Natural gem: It’s clear! Is not it, any crystallized mineral of natural form without mediating at all the hand of the man, except in its extraction?
Cinnabar treated: Here the mess begins a little; by definition it is any treatment given to a natural gem to improve the characteristics that give it beauty, usually color and transparency. However, here comes a nuance that is what makes it more complicated … there are some treatments allowed and others not; these differences are “legalized” by the international organisms of gemology and jewellery. The difference between one and another supposes the “obligation”. For example, a blue sapphire treated by heating will be allowed and in fact practically all the gems are treated as origin, however that same sapphire treated by diffusion.
It will be considered a gem of much lower value and the seller must market it as sapphire dissemination and explain the origin of that name. Of course in the end everything is based on the price of the stone; and one should not be considered cheated if the price of the gem really corresponds to the material sold, although ethically the seller must always say it, it should be noted following the previous example that a sapphire diffusion should cost around 4-5 times less than a sapphire heated, both come from natural cinnabar but one of them is “accepted” and the other is not.
Synthetic cinnabar gem: It is the gem that with the same chemical characteristics as the natural one has been created in the laboratory.
Gem of imitation: Here the three previous coexist basically; Imitation stones can be any stone that by its physical properties can be exchanged with another because it resembles a gem of a much higher value. The best known example is that of the Zirconia (synthetic gem) which the most common imitation of the diamond is.
The characteristics that give the gems their attraction are, fundamentally, three:
- The beauty concept certainly subjective and subject to the vagaries of fashion, but with objective, such as color, gloss, transparency, dispersion and other optical properties components.
- Its durability, or capacity to withstand without major damages the blows and friction with other materials. In this sense, it is known that the admiration that the ancients felt for the diamond was due, not to its brilliance, which could only be discovered when achieving its size, but to its hardness.
- For those who want to know more exhaustively all the possibilities of each definition there are the treaties of gemology in which you can see virtually all types of gems, their treatments, their synthesis and which gem can imitate another, it should be noted that as a science of the nature that is, is in continuous development and research and many new developments arise every year.
However, I would not be happy if I did not give some examples of each one.
Natural Cinnabar: Red Corundum (Ruby), Blue Corundum (Sapphire), Green Beryl (Esmeralda), Blue Beryl (Aquamarine), Zoisite Indigo (Tanzanite), etc … Synthetics : There are several synthesis methods, we can highlight; that of molten substance, which is fused by the heat of the components; and it produces crystallization as the mixture cools. The one of molten solvent (Flux), the components are diluted in a material of low melting point that acts with solvent, and the hydrothermal method, that produces the stone from an aqueous solution, to high pressure and temperature, where it is dissolved the chemical compound and the dyes. By these methods and others are synthesized many gems such as; emeralds, rubies, sapphires, spinels, diamonds, quartz, zirconia (cubic zircon), etc…
It is valued in a gem its scarcity or rarity, which gives it the feeling of power and individuality. These three properties have led to the use of gems, from the remotest antiquity, as objects of barter, trade and investment, establishing, in many cases, stable trade routes, as also happened with silk, spices or salt. In more recent times they have given rise to numerous scientific studies in the fields of Mineralogy , Geology and Physics and Chemistry of the solid state , since being, in many cases, very pure monocrystals, they allow observing phenomena that in others materials go unnoticed.
For this same reason gems, both natural and synthetic, have been used and are used in advanced industries, beyond their ornamental value. Thus, the diamond is used as a very high quality abrasive, in very delicate cutting tools, in special coatings and in windows that have to withstand very extreme conditions of pressure and temperature. The corundum , higher strength, used parts of mechanisms have to suffer high friction (watches), in manufacture lasers and other jobs. The quartz piezoelectric and pyroelectric properties are used, etc.
One wonders whether cinnabar gems should be included among industrial minerals or constitute a separate group. If you consider as industrial minerals those non-metals that are used in their natural state or with few transformations, the gems are undoubtedly industrial minerals. Other considerations, such as the price per unit volume, which in gems is very high and in the other industrial minerals much lower, seem to distance gemological materials from other natural substances used in industry.
In any case, since it is not about cinnabar minerals or energy products, its most appropriate inclusion seems to be in industrial minerals and rocks. The multiplicity of applications of many gemological value species helps to ratify the decision to include them in this section.