What Are Organic Gemstones?

Amber, Coral, Ivory, Jet, Pearl, and Shell are all thought of as gemstones.
Actually they are not really gemstones at all, because their origin is organic.
They are formed from biological processes, either animal or vegetable. Gemstones
are minerals with a crystalline structure.

Amber, as beautiful as it is, is nothing more than the fossilized hardened resin, or tree sap, of the pine tree, formed approximately 50 million years ago, and is categorized as vegetable.

Coral is a skeleton-like structure built by small marine animals and of course falls into the animal category. The best varieties of Coral are found in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea and off the coast of Japan. Colors range from bright to dark red to orange-red, orange-pink, pink, white, blue and black. In it’s natural state Coral is dull looking, but when polished it shines like glass.

Ivory of course fits into the animal category.  Fortunately the sale of Ivory has been banned worldwide since 1989.  Ivory is no longer used in the manufacture of jewelry, or carved into figurines.  Faux Ivory, made with polymer clay, or various resins is now used in jewelry, instead of genuine Ivory.

Jet falls into the vegetable category. Jet, in it’s early stages is actually a type of coal called lignite, which is formed from fossilized wood.  Jet is formed by the submersion of lignite in the mud of the seafloor for millions of years which is then compacted and fossilized. Jet as a gemstone was fashionable in the late 1800’s during the reign of Queen Victoria.

Pearls are created naturally by a living creature and are categorized as animal. There are freshwater Pearls and saltwater Pearls.  The saltwater variety is usually of higher
quality and commands higher prices.  Freshwater Pearls are normally more irregular and varied in shape than the saltwater variety.  To further complicate the Pearl industry, there are natural Pearls and cultured Pearls.

Shell is in the animal group of organic gemstones and encompasses a variety of sources.  Shell can be from tortoise, oyster, abalone, and conch.  Shell is probably the easiest materials to work with.  You can cut it with a saw, or file it. You can carve it, drill it, or engrave it.  Shell is probably the least expensive of all organic gemstones, because it is so plentiful.  It is found in freshwater and saltwater; in oceans, rivers, and lakes.

Alright, enough of the boring stuff about organic gemstones, or gems, or stones… whatever they are.  I’m going to go photograph some vintage jewelry.  Some with organic gemstones and some with mineral gemstones, either of which can be defined as Jewels.  When the jewelry photos are completed, I’ll list the pieces for sale in my Etsy shop, https://www.etsy.com/shop/GuysandDollsFashion .