I studied Geology at school and have always found rocks and minerals fascinating so it is no surprise that I find gemstones really enthralling! Their colours, properties, myths, and legends are disparate and interesting. Ancient tales about stones has been valued and honoured for centuries in every culture.

There is no real difference between 'precious' and 'semi-precious' gemstones apart from the value placed on them.  Typically precious gemstones are Diamonds, Emeralds, Rubies etc. which command higher prices due to their hardness and simple beauty, as well as their rareness, semi-precious stones are gemstone like Agates, Chalcedony, Jaspers, Pearls, Mother of Pearl, Sardonyx, Onyx etc. Again these semi-precious gemstones are beautiful in their own right, some command very high prices, such as Blue Lace Agate.

Gemstones have been present in rock formations that have been around for over 200 million years. Many are composed of metamorphic rock that crop up when young mountain ranges are 'born'. After millions of years the stones began to rise upward toward the earth's surface because of the erosion caused by wind and rain. While most precious stones are found in mountain areas, some have been found in riverbeds.

At one time, millions of years ago, several continents were joined together. This land mass is known today as the ancient continent of Gondwanaland. This land mass broke down into the continents we know today - South America, Australia, Africa, the Indian sub-continents and the islands of Madagascar and Sri Lanka. Most precious stones are found in these areas, but gemstones are found in Asia and North America as well although they can be found all over the world.

In ancient cultures gemstones were meant to be used by the upper classes in their society. Commoners were forbidden to own them, and if found to have stones the defenders of the law said the stones had been stolen, and the penalty for theft in many civilisations was death. In many of these civilisations a woman could not own a precious stone; however, this began to change when women started to take more interest in the stones than men, thus the Jewellery Trade was born.

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