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Gem vs. Gemstone: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
A gem is a precious or semiprecious stone, especially when cut and polished, while a gemstone specifically refers to the mineral or organic material.
Gem vs. Gemstone

Key Differences

Gem generally refers to a cut, polished precious or semiprecious stone used in jewelry or as a collector's item. The emphasis is on its refined state. Gemstone, however, refers to the raw mineral or organic material that, when cut and polished, becomes a gem. It's about the material in its natural form.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 28, 2023
The term gem often carries a broader connotation, sometimes used metaphorically to describe something or someone highly prized or valued. In contrast, gemstone is a more technical term, used specifically in the context of geology, mineralogy, or jewelry making, and lacks such metaphorical uses.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Gem emphasizes the beauty, rarity, and desirability of the stone, particularly in its finished state as part of jewelry. Gemstone highlights the characteristics of the stone itself, such as its composition, formation, and natural properties.
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The process of transforming a gemstone into a gem involves cutting, shaping, and polishing. The gemstone is the raw material, while the gem is the final, aesthetically pleasing product used in various decorative contexts.
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Gems are often assessed on factors like cut, clarity, color, and carat after they are processed from gemstones. The value of a gemstone, on the other hand, may be determined based on its rarity, size, and potential for refinement into a high-quality gem.
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Comparison Chart

Definition

Cut, polished precious stone
Raw mineral or organic material
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Usage

In jewelry or as collectors' items
In its natural form, before being processed
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Connotation

Broad, sometimes metaphorical
Technical, specific to mineralogy
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Emphasis

Beauty and desirability in finished state
Characteristics and composition in natural state
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Assessment

Based on aesthetics and craftsmanship
Based on rarity and potential for refinement
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Gem and Gemstone Definitions

Gem

A valuable or prized object.
She treasured the antique vase like a rare gem.
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Gemstone

A mineral or organic material that can be used as a precious stone.
Amethyst is a popular gemstone known for its purple color.
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Gem

A precious stone that is cut and polished for use in jewelry.
The diamond necklace was adorned with sparkling gems.
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Gemstone

A mineral that, when processed, becomes valuable for jewelry.
She had a collection of rough gemstones ready for processing.
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Gem

Something considered to be outstandingly good or special.
That vintage car is a real gem, a rare find indeed.
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Gemstone

Any rock or mineral that can be fashioned into a gem.
Opal gemstones are prized for their iridescent qualities.
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Gem

A person highly esteemed for their qualities or talents.
The new player on the team is a true gem with exceptional skills.
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Gemstone

A natural substance that has potential as a valuable stone.
He specialized in identifying the quality of various gemstones.
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Gem

A piece of a valuable mineral or minerallike substance that has been cut, polished, or otherwise prepared for use as an ornament.
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Oct 19, 2023

Gemstone

The natural form of precious stones before cutting and polishing.
The raw gemstone looked unremarkable until it was expertly cut.
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Gem

Something that is valued for its beauty or perfection
A little gem of a book.
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Oct 19, 2023

Gemstone

A precious or semiprecious stone that may be used as a jewel when cut and polished.
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Oct 19, 2023

Gem

A beloved or highly prized person.
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Gemstone

A gem, usually made of minerals.
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Oct 19, 2023

Gem

A muffin, especially a very small one.
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Gemstone

A crystalline rock that can be cut and polished for jewelry;
He had the gem set in a ring for his wife
She had jewels made of all the rarest stones
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Gem

To adorn with gems.
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Gem

A precious stone, usually of substantial monetary value or prized for its beauty or shine.
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Oct 19, 2023

Gem

(figuratively) Any precious or highly valued thing or person.
She's an absolute gem.
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Oct 19, 2023

Gem

Anything of small size, or expressed within brief limits, which is regarded as a gem on account of its beauty or value, such as a small picture, a verse of poetry, or an epigram.
A gem of wit
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Gem

(obsolete) A gemma or leaf-bud.
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Gem

A type of geometrid moth, Orthonama obstipata.
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Oct 19, 2023

Gem

(computing) A package containing programs or libraries for the Ruby programming language.
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Gem

A size of type between brilliant (4-point) and diamond (4½-point), running 222 lines to the foot.
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Oct 19, 2023

Gem

(transitive) To adorn with, or as if with, gems.
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Oct 19, 2023

Gem

A bud.
From the joints of thy prolific stemA swelling knot is raised called a gem.
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Gem

A precious stone of any kind, as the ruby, emerald, topaz, sapphire, beryl, spinel, etc., especially when cut and polished for ornament; a jewel.
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Oct 19, 2023

Gem

Anything of small size, or expressed within brief limits, which is regarded as a gem on account of its beauty or value, as a small picture, a verse of poetry, a witty or wise saying.
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Oct 19, 2023

Gem

To put forth in the form of buds.
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Gem

To adorn with gems or precious stones.
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Oct 19, 2023

Gem

To embellish or adorn, as with gems; as, a foliage gemmed with dewdrops.
England is . . . gemmed with castles and palaces.
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Gem

A crystalline rock that can be cut and polished for jewelry;
He had the gem set in a ring for his wife
She had jewels made of all the rarest stones
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Gem

Art highly prized for its beauty or perfection
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Gem

A person who is a brilliant and precious as a piece of jewelry
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Gem

A sweet quick bread baked in a cup-shaped pan
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Gem

A precious or semiprecious stone incorporated into a piece of jewelry
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Oct 19, 2023

Gem

A precious or semiprecious stone, especially when finely cut.
The crown was inlaid with various colorful gems.
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Nov 28, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Is a diamond a gem or a gemstone?

It's a gemstone in its raw form and a gem when cut and polished.
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What determines the value of a gemstone?

Factors like rarity, size, and potential beauty as a gem.
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Are gems only used in jewelry?

Primarily, but they can also be collector's items or artistic inlays.
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Can the term gem be used metaphorically?

Yes, for things or people considered special or valuable.
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What is a gem?

A cut and polished precious or semiprecious stone.
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Nov 28, 2023

What is a gemstone?

A raw mineral or organic material that can be turned into a gem.
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Can all gemstones become gems?

Not all; only those with qualities suitable for jewelry making.
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What's the most valuable gem?

Value varies, but diamonds, rubies, and sapphires are highly prized.
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How are gemstones cut?

Using precise methods to maximize their beauty and brilliance.
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Do all gems come from gemstones?

Yes, all gems are made from raw gemstones.
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How is a gem different from a gemstone?

A gem is processed and polished, while a gemstone is in its natural form.
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Can gemstones be artificially made?

Yes, some gemstones can be created in laboratories.
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What's the rarest gemstone?

Some of the rarest include painite and red beryl.
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How are gemstones found?

They are mined from the earth or extracted from other natural sources.
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Is jade a gem or a gemstone?

It's a gemstone that becomes a gem when finely carved.
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How are gemstones appraised?

Based on criteria like rarity, size, and potential as a gem.
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What is the most popular gem?

Diamonds are among the most popular and widely recognized.
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Can gems be synthetic?

Yes, there are synthetic versions of many gems.
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Are gems always expensive?

Many are, but prices vary based on type, quality, and size.
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Can a gemstone be a rock?

Yes, if it contains minerals that can be fashioned into gems.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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