Minerals and crystals and rocks, oh my....
Krystallos: From ancient Greek, meaning ‘Crystallised light’
Our beautiful planet contains over five thousand identified minerals, with hundreds of new varieties being discovered each year – many crystal healers believe that new minerals surface as their particular energies are needed within the world. Although I like to be informal when talking about minerals/crystals/rocks/gemstones/stones and interchange the terms, let's take a moment to get clear on their unique differences:
MINERALS are generally formed from only one chemical composition. More than one and they turn into rocks. A mineral is defined as 1. Naturally occurring, 2. Solid, 3. Inorganic and 4. Has an internal crystalline structure. That means that while all crystals are minerals, not all minerals are crystals. Examples of minerals are Malachite, Hematite, Carnelian.
ROCKS are formed from grains of multiple minerals fused together into a solid mass. Rocks may contain organic material, which true minerals cannot( e.g. Shungite is a rock made from ancient vegetation.) Examples of rocks are Jade, Obsidian and Lapis Lazuli.
CRYSTALS generally refer to minerals with a visible crystallised form. This means that they show a faceted, symmetrical or asymmetrical, three dimensional, geometric form. Examples of crystals are Quartz, Pyrite, Fluorite
GEMSTONES are minerals or rocks strong enough to be cut and polished for jewellery. Only about 200 of the 5000+ minerals and rocks can be shaped into gemstones. Examples are Moonstone, Labradorite, Turquoise.
STONES is a non technical term, commonly used in the mineral world to refer to small specimens whose rough edges have been polished away, aka tumbled stones or polished stones.
POLISHED VS RAW
Many crystal lovers find something uniquely organic and powerful about a crystal left in its raw form, as created by Mother Earth. There are, however, plenty of minerals who reveal hidden glamour only once polished: Rainbow Fluorite’s beautiful layers are much more vibrant, as is the “flash” within Labradorite and Moonstone. Just be aware that polishing can sometimes unnaturally ‘freeze’ a crystal’s energy flow, so if a crystal doesn’t feel alive to you in it’s polished form definitely try get your hands on a raw specimen for comparison- The energy difference can be quite amazing!
A NOTE ABOUT MINING
Mining is a complicated subject with imperfect truths, but very important to address as crystal collectors. Simply put, many of the crystal specimens we treasure are by-products of industrial mining, preserved only because collectors ascribe value to keeping them in their whole form. The vast majority of mining is for industry, meaning that after the minerals are mined they are processed for a huge variety of industrial use: Hematite is melted for steel, Lithium filled minerals such as Lepidolite become batteries and pharmaceuticals etc. These stones need our careful care to ensure that they remain beautiful and whole. So treasure each of your rocks. There isn’t another just like it in the entire universe!
VAN DOREN, Y (2017).CRYSTALS THE MODERN GUIDE TO CRYSTAL HEALING.LONDON.GOLDIROCKS