History of mining gemstones

A gemstone is a name given to different types of crystallized minerals once they're cut and polished. When we think of gemstones we typically imagine colourful, vibrant crystals that withhold powerful healing properties. Gemstones may seem to be the latest trend, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re something new! Archaeologists have discovered mining for gemstones dates all the way back to prehistoric times -- yep, our ancestors used them too!

How are gemstones formed?

There is a large misconception between where gemstones are formed and where they are found. To help clear the air: most gemstones are formed naturally below the earth's surface, through four different processes, and can be found via mining or earth processes like volcanoes and faulting. One of the most common processes is called metamorphosis (remember Hilary Duff’s hit album?) Well, this is a little different! Metamorphosis is where minerals are forced together under great pressure and heat usually by tectonic plates moving underneath each other. As a result of the force, these minerals metamorphose into different types of minerals. Notable gemstones that occur as an aftereffect of metamorphosis include diamonds, sapphire, ruby, spinel and garnet.

The other three formation processes include:

  1. Igneous: created deep below the earth’s surface
  2. Hydrothermal: a process that occurs when bodies of mineral rich water cool  
  3. Sedimentary: formations that occur due to water depositing sediments 

The value of each gemstone is simply a matter of supply and demand, because of this, the rarer a gemstone is, the higher its value. 

Gemstones are traditionally grouped into two different categories:

  • Precious gemstones– high in value, hardness and rarity. Common examples include: diamond, emerald, sapphire, and ruby  
  • Semi-precious gemstones– prices ranging low to high depending on each stone: amethyst, aquamarine, and citrine for example
  • The number one recognized gemstone on earth is a diamond, unfortunately there is a lesser known issue involving these sparkly diamonds: it's irresponsible mining practices. This contributes to environmental pollution in our air, land and water that encompasses the area, resulting in soil erosion which therefore destroys surrounding communities, causing them to relocate in addition to the horrible deforestation that also impacts wildlife. The negative impacts of diamond mining have fueled innovative alternatives to developing diamonds, known as lab grown diamonds or LG diamonds, which is exactly what it sounds like, and yes they are considered real diamonds. Bonus: there is virtually no difference, plus they are cheaper since the supply is higher, and much safer for our environment – it’s a win-win!  

    What are gemstones used for?

    Stones have served many purposes throughout our history, from physical and spiritual healing, to jewelry, weaponry, and even as a status symbol. We are currently seeing a wide use of gems in spiritual practices to balance energy fields, promote health and wellbeing. Each type of gemstone embodies a unique concentrated source of energy that can be used in multiple ways to promote healing and nourishment. As you can see, humans have widely used gemstones throughout our history and their popularity is only continuing to grow.

    Top gemstones used for healing

    Rose quartz = is the stone of love, often used to restore relationships, connections and bring comfort.

    Amethyst = known as the stone of protection, healing and purity. Used as a detox tool to help rid negativity and cleanse the body. 

    Clear quartz = is considered the master healer of stones because it has the power to balance all the chakras.

    Citrine = is mainly used for promoting energy and creativity, and can be used as a good luck charm!

    Black tourmaline = touted for balancing emotional and physical energy and distress, from depression and anxiety, to self-confidence and fear.  

    Green aventurine = used to provide strength, happiness and protect the heart chakra. 



     "These gems have a life in them:
    their colours speak, say what words fail"
    -- George Eliot 

    Leave a comment