CRYSTALS and GEMSTONES
Crystals are minerals that have had the chance to grow in the shape that they were meant to be. Just like your DNA determines the colour of your eyes, how tall you will get to be and the shape of your bones, the chemicals that a mineral is made of determines what shape it gets to be. We can tell different minerals apart by what crystal shape they are.
Sometimes minerals form in spaces where there is not a lot of room, so they don't have a crystal shape. When there is just a big hunk of a mineral, it is called a massive mineral.
If there is a definite shape with easy to see flat sides, it is called a mineral crystal.
Most of the earth's crystals were formed millions of years ago. Crystals form when the liquid rock from inside the earth cool and harden. Sometimes crystals form when liquids underground find their way into cracks and slowly deposit minerals. Most mineral crystals take thousands of years to "grow" but some like salt (halite) can form so quickly that you can watch them grow at home!
Some people think of crystals as clear pretty rocks that are used for jewelry. Amethyst is a very common quartz crystal. Crystals do not have to be clear, but those are the kinds you will usually see in the stores.
Gemstones are often what people mean when they talk about "crystals". There are many gemstones and most are used for jewelry or decoration. These are minerals that are usually transparent and have been cut and polished.
Some gemstones look similar to what the mineral looks like when found in nature and others are very different.Few minerals found in nature are suitable to use unaltered in jewelry. One exception is the "Herkimer Diamond" which is a doubly terminated quartz crystal which forms in vugs of gray rock and are found near Herkimer, New York. These are not real diamonds - they are quartz crystals that look like they have been cut & polished like a diamond.