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blue gemstoneHow does a rock become a gem?

In my mind, the process itself is a great metaphor for how a person may achieve greatness. This may be one of the clues as to why I love gems, crystals and rocks – I always love a good metaphor.

Here is the case with rocks and gems:

Magma-- a simple, humble earth element –rises to the crust, often through volcanic pipes. If it reaches the surface of the earth, it solidifies as lava. But if the mass of it cools slowly in the crust, it can crystallize and form minerals. Increases in pressure can also cause chemical transformation. Such processes form igneous rock – all of the quartzes (including amethyst, citrine and ametrine), the beryls (emerald, morganite and aquamarine), the garnets, moonstone, apatite, diamond, spinel, tanzanite, tourmaline, topaz, and zircon.

The processes of erosion and accumulation of sediment, along with forces of pressure and compaction, create sedimentary rock. Gemstones associated with sedimentary rock include jasper, malachite, and opal. If you add something like a shift of tectonic plates, putting the igneous and sedimentary rocks and minerals under tremendous heat or pressure, sometimes the rocks and minerals are fundamentally changed in their chemistry and crystal
structure. This is called a metamorphic process, and results in gemstones such as the beryls, jade, lapis lazuli, turquoise, spinel, ruby, and sapphire.

Rocks and minerals are in a constant state of change, referred to as The Rock Cycle. Igneous rock can change into sedimentary or metamorphic rock. Sedimentary rock can change into metamorphic or igneous rock. And metamorphic rock can change into igneous or sedimentary rock. But you have to be patient (most often, for eons).

In this case, I'm thinking not of "The Rock Cycle", but "The Personal Cycle" that consists of change and transformation.

In order to become a 'gem' of a person, in my humble opinion, you must often undergo something like the upheavals and trials described above (only in this case, these might be related to family dysfunction, illness, abuse, or any number of social or psychological challenges). You may strive, and rise, like magma, yet remain common and untransformed. Or, if you 'cool slowly', by taking your time to wrestle with life's fundamental questions, to analyze and be mindful in your life, and to try to become better, rather than just rushing to the  most mundane of end goals, your soul may have the time to crystalize and change. This allows you to become something greater than you might otherwise have been. Similarly, often those who have been subjected to the most tremendous pressures, and who have had to cope with the greatest disappointments and even tragedies, are like the rock that is transformed, that
becomes gemstone. The trials themselves can change the spiritual composition of a person, just as cataclysmic forces can change the chemistry of rock. In this way, a person may be thought of as a gem, as the most beautiful and precious specimen of humanity. I think of our better-known heroes in this way, but also, those unsung everyday heroes who rise to extraordinary heights in the service of others.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy: 'Stoned: My Addiction to Gems, Crystals, and Just Plain Homely Rocks'

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0 # Vintique Jools 2013-04-16 00:13
Fabulous article/blog Shelia! I really loved how you ended it with the analogy to how we become "gems" in our own right dealing with the trials we experience through this journey that we call life.

Ellen :)
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0 # Sheila McLaughlin 2013-04-16 15:00
Thank you, Ellen! I know you and I both are putting in some time in the pressure cooker part of life right now, and I think of you often and wish you well with everything. Thanks again as always for your wonderful notes -- having friends makes it all more bearable!
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