Gems in Jewelry, Technology and Industry
When we think of gems and precious stones our thoughts immediately turn to lavish jewelry; an extravagant stone worn on an iconic broach, a pair of priceless earrings, or a famous ring. Today gems are sought after for their beauty, mined, cut and cultured everywhere possible, and by skilled person who dedicate their life to gemology. Expensive and famous stones are bought and sold in auction houses across the world and fetch incredible prices, with more historic stones on display in museums and exhibitions for all to see, baring stories of curses, love and betrayal.
As well as being sought after for their beauty, gems have also been used for their healing powers, believed to be able to help cure certain diseases and illnesses, and having effects on our health and wellbeing. Though many regard this as simply a romantic superstition, gems are still used today in alternative health treatments and therapies for their effects on the body and mind.
However, the importance, uses and admiration of some of the harder gemstones such as sapphire, diamond and ruby, goes far beyond their aesthetic beauty or mythical powers, with many of these gems having a vital role in industry and playing a part in modern technology.
Diamonds may be considered a girl's best friend for their immense beauty and modern symbol of wealth and success, with certain colored diamonds being amongst the rarest and most valuable gemstones on the planet, but they also held in high regard in certain industries due to their incredible hardness and resilience.
Diamonds are one of the toughest materials known to man, with an incredible tolerance to heat and a durability which makes them almost indestructible. The natural strength of diamond makes it perfect for many process and technologies in industry including high powered lasers, drilling, cutting and even polishing.
Diamonds are known to produces extremely accurate rays of light, making them ideal for use in high quality laser equipment, particularly surgical lasers which demand extreme perfection, precision and durability.
In drilling, diamonds are commonly used as the tip of the drill, especially in drills where a high level of heat will be reached. Other cutting tools such as high powered saws and knives often use diamond teeth, having the ability to cut through tough materials such as slate, stone, granite and marble. Diamond is also used to cut glass, and often the preferred blade or tip for more precision cuts when engraving.
When diamond is crushed into a powder, or even a paste, it can be used to finely polish particularly hard surfaces, and it is not uncommon for diamonds to be used in polishing other gems and highly valued precious stones. Fortunately synthetic diamonds are of a high enough quality to complete many of these tasks, leaving the more exquisite stones to the fashion and beauty industry.
The brilliant blue sapphires of Myanmar and Kashmir are world renown for their stunningly intense and velvety appearance. Through the ages sapphire has been seen as a symbol of sincerity and loyalty, believed to bring their owners great peace and wisdom. In ancient times star sapphire was worn to protect travelers and adventures, even believing it could protect against evil spirits.
Today, synthetic sapphires can be found being used in more practical ways, as a key part in various machines, technologies and industrial processes, including complex circuit boards and high frequency lasers. Sapphire has the ability to form electrical insulations without the risk of overheating, making it perfect for technologies which demand high heat conductivity and low electrical conductivity. Sapphire can be commonly found in circuits used in cell phones, CB radios, and even out towards the stars, used in hi-tech satellite communication systems.
Sapphires are also made into something called as sapphire glass, known for its strength, durability and resistance to scratches. Windows made of sapphire glass can be found in military vehicles or in the visors of body armor and industrial suits. Sapphire glass is also commonly used in high pressured chambers, in the barcode scanners at your local supermarket, and on the faces of more expensive watches.
Rubies have long been a favorite amongst the rich and famous, often fetching extravagant prices at auction and being worn by iconic figures such as Elizabeth Taylor and Jaqueline Kennedy, as well as numerous members of royalty and nobility around the world, and commonly used to celebrate 15th and 40th year wedding anniversaries in Western culture.
In industry, ruby is famous for being used in the first lasers. Ruby continues to be used in lasers today, although as with diamonds, synthetic rubies are now able to do the same job as the more valuable natural ruby. Rubies produce the common red light laser beams which we see in supermarket scanners and laser pointers. Ruby is also incredibly hard and plays a part in the mechanics of certain clocks and machine parts which need a great durability.