What’s the difference between Gemstones and Rocks?

Minerals come from inorganic matter that has crystallized or otherwise arranged in a regular pattern. They are naturally-occurring, unique chemical compositions formed through various processes. They are less common, and carry a visible beauty above the average minerals with measurable qualities. Gemstones are classified as precious or semi-precious, and are valued culturally or financially. Precious gems are the most rare and expensive, such as diamonds, emeralds, rubies, pearls, and sapphires.

Rocks are composed of one or more minerals. Rocks are naturally occurring as well, but are only an aggregate of other materials, without their own unique chemical composition.

CharacteristicGemstonesRocks
Chemical
composition
Finite and
specific
Infinite and
non-specific
ColorTypically the sameQuite variable
ShapeSpecific, usually
crystalline
Non-specific
Fossil contentNoneHigh
Human usesHumans need minerals
for their bodies to function
properly, but not
usually gemstones
Used for shelter
and protection
Examples Diamonds, rubies,
and emeralds
Basalt, coal,
limestone, and
granite
Scientific StudyGemology, or broader
Mineralogy
Petrology