Do you ever wonder where gemstones come from? Or how they are formed in the first place? Gems are fascinating: Not only do they look beautiful, they can often tell very interesting stories about themselves. Where they came from, how they came to be: They are world travelers, and most of them are older than you can imagine. When you wear a gemstone, you are wearing a piece of Earth's history.

At Hamra Jewelers, we are fascinated by the origins of gemstones. If you wonder how gemstones are formed and where they come from, wonder no longer: We have the answers.

How are they formed?

Most precious gemstones are formed in the Earth's crust. The crust lies up to 25 miles beneath the Earth's surface. Some stones, like diamonds and peridot, can be found in even deeper regions of the Earth. Most stones are formed in one of three types of rocks which are:

* Igneous Rock

* Sedimentary Rock

* Metamorphic Rock

Igneous rock is formed by the cooling and crystallization of molten magma. As the magma cools, crystals interact and interlock, occasionally forming gemstones. The type of stones depend on the elements present in the magma, the cooling time and the environment it takes place in. Usually the slower the cooling time, the larger the gemstone.

Several gemstones found in igneous rock include:

* Garnet

* Diamond


* Peridot

* Topaz

* Beryl (Aquamarine, Emerald)

* Tourmaline

* Zircon

Sedimentary rocks are formed when rock gets worn down and the fragments are carried by water or wind, compressing them together over time. Various gemstones that are found in sedimentary rocks include:

* Amethy6st

* Opal

* Turquoise

The third type of rock, metamorphic rock is created when intense pressure or underground heat transforms exiting rocks. Some gemstones that can form in metamorphic rock include:

* Ruby

* Jadeite

Some gemstones, such as sapphire and ruby, can form from a combination of igneous and metamorphic events.. Amethyst can form from a combination of igneous and sedimentary events.

how are they found?

It's actually more difficult to find colored gemstones that it is to find diamonds. Diamonds are much easier to mine in large quantities. Gemstones tend to be found in much smaller  quantities than diamonds and are often scattered farther apart, which makes recovering them a longer and more complicated process. 

Like diamonds, some gemstones can be pit mined, but are also commonly found in alluvial deposits from which the stones are hand picked (or panned). Emeralds are mined through a process called "terrace mining", where topsoil and shale is cut away in steps to make the stones more accessible.

Where are they mined?

Gemstones can be found all overt the world. What we have is a brief overview of some of the world's gem producing countries. It is by no means a comprehensive list: There are many nations not listed who supply the world with many gorgeous stones.

* Colombia:  Emerald

* Madagascar:  Sapphire, Tourmaline, Tsavorite and Aquamarine

* Sri Lanka:  Ruby, Sapphire, Topaz, Quartz, Peridot, Zircon, Garnet, Alexandrite

* Tanzania:  Tanzanite, Aquamarine, Tsavorite, Ruby, Sapphire, Tourmaline

* Brazil:  Amethyst, Citrine, Topaz, Tourmaline, Aquamarine, Emerald

* India:  Ruby, Citrine, Emerald, Sapphire, Topaz, Tourmaline, Garnet, Iolite

* United States:  Amethyst, Sapphire, Peridot, Tourmaline

Most gemstones that are mined in these locales eventually end up in either Thailand, India, Hong Kong or Switzerland. They are the four primary trade centers in the colored gemstone industry. If you bought a piece of colored gemstone jewelry over the last few decades, odds are very good that the stone has been passed through one of the four regions before ending up in your collection.