Generally speaking, a gemstone is a stone that is beautiful, rare, and durable (resistant to abrasion, fracturing and chemical reactions). Some minerals can be very beautiful, but they may be too soft and will scratch easily. Others are too common and are given a semi-precious status. Most gemstones have good hardness and a high index of refraction (the higher the index of refraction the greater the sparkle). Gemstone beads are often dyed, stained, treated, enhanced or man-made.
Click on any thumbnail to see more in that category.