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In my findings I have found that minerals, rocks and gemstones are all similar. They have many things in common but they also have lots of differences. When you encounter rocks (any) all of them are solid, hard to break, they can feel cool to the touch. How much dirt do they have inside? That's one of the differences. Gemstones have usually no trace of dirt inside. Minerals have some but not too much.(JK) The compounds of them are different. Anything that doesn't have the normal compounds of a common rock is categorized by either a gemstone or a mineral (AKA metals). There are many things that scientists look for in a metal and a gem. They are examined under a microscope.(Hi)
I myself own a 1 inch ruby and 1 inch emerald and 1 inch sapphire. However these gems have minerals and traces of rock in their compounds so they are not 100% pure. You can tell by the fact that they have an opaque color. I paid about $20 US dollars for each of them. While the ones they use for jewelry are completely transparent, and can go as high as $6,000 per one inch of pure stone. Jewels of that size can be quite rare.(Hi)
For beginners who want to go exploring, hiking and spelunking there are many guides in the web you can use to help you find ways to identify them:
"The first thing to have when identifying minerals is a good field guide. With your field guide in hand, you will be able to compare the physical properties of a mineral to descriptions and pictures in your guide.(Hi)
Most common minerals can be identified by inspecting or testing their physical properties. These properties are color, streak, transparency, luster, hardness, cleavage, fracture, specific gravity, and crystal form."(Hi)
A mineral is a naturally occuring crystalline compound. They can be categorised in many ways.(Hi)
SILICATES have silicon in them. NON-SILICATES do not. Most rocks are mostly made from silicate minerals. Limestone - made from calcite, a non-silicate - is the most common non-silicate rock.(Hi)
Within the silicates, there are isolated, chain, sheet, and framework structures - referring to the joined-up silicate tetrahedra.(Hi)
Another way to classify minerals is by symmetry. There are seven basic symmetries - cubic, tetragonal, hexagonal, trigonal, orthorhombic, monoclinic, and triclinic.(Hi)
Other classifications could be on mechanical properties, electrical properties (eg piezoelectrics), optical behaviour, or origin in the Earth.(Hi)