Gemstones Gemstones have become symbols of wealth, rank and power as well as religious symbols and charms. Gemstones are naturally formed substances and most are minerals. All minerals and stones that are used to make jewelry and ornaments are called gems. Gemstones such as pearls, coral and amber are made from plants and animals. Gems are divided into three categories: precious stones, semi-precious stones, and common gemstones. Emeralds, rubies, sapphires and diamonds are precious stones. Years ago the diamond was not popular because it is colorless. Stones that were beautifully colored were valued more. Most diamonds come from Africa.
Emeralds are deep green in color. They are found in Ecuador, Peru and Columbia in South America. Rubies and sapphires come from Myanmar (Burma), Kashmir, Sri Lanka and Australia. Rubies are red. Sapphires are found in cornflower blue, yellow or pink. The finest opals are flecked with bright glints of red, green, yellow and purple. The richest deposits are found in Australia. Today people wear rings containing their birthstones. A different gemstone represents each month of the year. This tradition began in Poland during the 18th century