National Minerals Information Center

Gemstones Statistics and Information

The terms "gem" and "gemstone" mean any mineral or organic material (e.g., pearl and petrified wood) used for personal adornment, display, or object of art because it possesses beauty, rarity, and durability.   Of the 2,700 mineral species, only about 100 possess all these attributes.   Silicates compose the largest group of gemstones; oxides and quartz compose the second largest.


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Donald Olson

USGS Mineral Commodity Specialist
National Minerals Information Center
Phone: 703-648-7721