Stone is a popular word including both minerals and rocks. Minerals have discrete chemical compositions; rocks are combinations of minerals. Most stone beads from minerals, especially the quartz family (also the basis for glass), and garnets. Of the quartz stones, chalcedony (agate) is the most important group. Lapis lazuli is one of the few important rocks for beads. Another stone discussed here is aventurine.
Identifying minerals is an important first step when trying to figure out what beads you have. In addition to color and luster, the most important easy test to do with minerals is to determine their hardness. One must also be aware that many stones, especially quartz minerals are often altered. These include etched carnelians and dZi beads. Also keep in mind that there are conflicting names or definitions used for stones, one of the most complex being onyx.
Stone beads (specifically jade) are the most expensive of beads. Many metal beads are made from minerals, including gold. Some stone beads have a long history and are still highly valued, such as the Pumtek. Some even come from outer space. And one is probably the biggest bead in the world.
Some people believe that stones have mystical powers. This idea is examined in light of the craze for mala or power beads.
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