The Differences Between Minerals, Crystals Explained

Ah, what is not to love about minerals , crystals and gemstones with their beautiful colours, textures, shapes and even smells? There are not many people in this world that don’t have at least a single piece of mineral, crystal or gemstone in their possession. Or that haven’t seen any of these in their life. They are truly amazing things, but many people still do not know the differences between them. Hopefully, with this article, I am able to shed some light on this so that you, the reader, can truly know the difference and are able to either explain it to others or be easier for you to identify them when you want to purchase them.

What is a Mineral?

A mineral is a naturally created substance, abundant in all of Earth, present in almost everything there is. Science will tell you that you can find minerals in the water, earth, plants and trees, animals and even air. Minerals are also found in humans, although many will say that that’s because we consume animals, who in turn consume plants, plants (that feed on the soil and water) and water. Types of minerals that are well known can include gold, silver, magnetite, galena, pyrite and haematite. There are many other minerals, known and less known, but we can leave them out for another day.

What is a Crystal?

A crystal is a type of mineral that was created when the right environmental conditions deep into the Earth were met. If these conditions aren’t met, crystals cannot be formed. Crystals can have very specific shapes and patterns, some of them quite unique, and even sizes. Their shapes and patterns are a result of the way their molecules are naturally arranged.

You will usually find crystals very, very deep into the Earth, where they are formed. A lot of these places are almost impossible for any human to reach, due to extremely high temperatures, but there are other places, like huge caves, where people can go (mostly scientists) and explore the gigantic pieces of crystals that have formed. A lot of them can be as big as a car, a house and even bigger!

Crystals can be categorized according to their shape and also according to their physical and chemical properties. By shape we find seven of them: cubic, hexagonal, tetragonal, triclinic, monoclinic, orthorhombic and trigonal. By properties we find four: ionic molecular, covalent and metallic.

Among crystals, one can find quartz (probably the more popular of all crystals), amethyst, topaz,  tourmaline, aventurine, chalcedony, garnet and calcite, to name just a few.

You might also like: Stones and Crystals for Particular Issues

What is a Gemstone?

A gemstone is a rock or mineral with a very high value, usually wanted or used for the sole purpose of beauty – the making of jewelry. The rarer the gemstone the higher-priced will it be. Gemstones like ruby, diamond, sapphire and emerald are considered precious stones, while all others in the family are considered semi-precious. But all of them are cut and polished, so as to be used in all sorts of jewelry.

Some hard stones like lapis lazuli and opal and even more soft and organic ones like amber and jet can also be used in the creation of gemstones and jewelry.

Gemstones, because they could be cut and polished, were the stones of excellence for kings and queens, emperors and Egyptians (pharaohs and very important people in Egypt wore and used gemstones either for everyday living or in special times and ceremonies).


Many people will continue to make certain mistakes when it comes to distinguish between a mineral, a crystal and a gemstone, but hopefully this article has put some light into the differences between them.

The value of a mineral, crystal and gemstone will depend on many things, but especially on the demand and supply available. If any of these is very rare to find, you can bet it’s going to have a higher price than something that is readily available in most parts of the world.

While crystals are more commonly used in technology, manufacturing, for use in crystal healing, crystal grids, watchmaking, construction, gemstones are more used as adornments (jewelry), but also in some esoteric practices, like Reiki healing, meditation and so on.

Whichever one you use, crystal or gemstone, in whatever shape or form (raw/natural or polished), you can bet that the energy coming out of them is amazingly powerful and nothing to be afraid of. This is one of the reasons why both have been used for millennia, besides their many colours, shapes, and forms.

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