Are crystals rocks?

This is a frequently asked question for us, as our name is Tagish Rocks! Because of our name, people often think that crystals and rocks are one and the same, but the truth is, although there are similarities between the two, they are fundamentally different. Since crystals are made up of atoms, they are technically not rocks. 

Rocks are actually a solid mass found in the earth and they are made up of any two or more minerals bound together by force. While they can be made up of minerals and crystals, they are not actually crystals in their own right. We know a thing or two about crystals around here so thought this blog would be a great place for you to start on how to distinguish the difference or maybe you just want to be a super cool rock nerd like us!

Buckle in because this is where we begin our crash course on all things rocks, crystals, minerals and stone.

Stone= a non metallic mineral or rock
Rock = a mass made up of more than one mineral
Crystal = a mineral with a crystalline structure
Mineral = a solid inorganic stance that forms naturally 


Let's start with gemstones and where they fit in with all of this too, they have become incredibly popular over the years gaining more and more traction as fashion statements and while the truth is that gemstones do look great in jewelry they are so much more than that. Gemstones are decided by rarity, quality and cut. You'll know more about these when it comes to ruby, diamonds etc in comparison to a lesser known gemstone for example tourmaline. Precious or semi precious are all gemstones in their own right.

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Crystals are substances that have a crystalline structure. This happens when the atoms, molecules, and ions arrange themselves in a repetitive ordered three-dimensional pattern. These crystalline structures can happen quickly, or they can take thousands or even millions of years to form. A snowflake, salt, sugar, ice and sand all have the same format which is a crystallized structure. We are talking billions of these atoms coming together to create the structural makeup of a crystal. These crystalline structures appear when a solid non metallic mineral or rock are created from gas or a liquid whilst atoms gather tightly together to create a new form and structure known to us as crystals. Now let's talk about shape because these beautiful earth made structures are categorized down into seven different structures - hexagonal, cubic, tetragonal, monoclinic, rhombohedral, and orthorhombic. 

Whilst some of the crystals may have a similar chemical composition, the formation of the atoms within that crystal can change the end result quite dramatically. Quartz crystals we know like Citrine, Amethyst, and Rose Quartz all share the same crystal makeup but when it comes to being exposed to temperatures changes add in the addition of impurities, and natural tweaks to the chemical composition then the whole outcome can quite literally change the color or visual style of the crystal. These crystals we know and love are formed underground in the mantle where magma and the earth’s crust meet where the two meet. There are gaps or spaces where these crystals have room to form and simply are surrounded by a vast amount of rich mineral fluids. There are crystals out there that we tend to call crystals despite them actually being something else – for example Lapis Lazuli falls under the classification of rock and Obsidian is considered to be a mineraloid - it's all quite technical we know!


A rock forms when different minerals bond together. If you've been here for a while you'll know that earth has quite a few rocks and they are pretty abundant. This makes them a major player in the makeup of what we know as the world's outer layer. We are also aware that rocks can also be broken down into other materials such as sand and soil which are incredibly important to our ecosystem that's for sure. 

There are three different types of rock;

Sedimentary rocks - formed over thousands of years by sediment being compressed and compressed some more. Like the saying between a rock and a hard place. Those rocks have felt some pressure

Igneous rocks - when volcanoes erupt and lava spills before eventually cooling into what we know as molten rock. 

Metamorphic rocks - when massive geological forces cause metamorphic rock formation.

An easier way to understand rocks is to think of it as two materials made up of tiny particles coming together under lots of pressure during a prolonged period of time to finally become a bonded material as one. A great example would be feldspars and quartz in granite rock.

What about Geodes? These are rock structures with internal spaces or cavities that can be lined with mineral materials or teeny quartz crystals. That's why we find it so common to find amethyst and banded agate appearing into geodes. 


Minerals are made up of inorganic solid matter. They may have a crystalline structure but ultimately are made from inorganic chemical composition. You'll find minerals in the natural world and they do have a stable chemical composition, an internal structure with repeating patterns too but not all minerals are the same in truth and when they don't have that crystalline build they are known as mineraloids just like Amber.

Plenty of minerals are made up of two or more chemical elements - for example clear quartz is made from atoms of silicon and oxygen. You can get your precious metals - gold, silver, copper, titanium, as single elements. There are thousands and thousands of minerals out there we are yet to discover and around 150 new are popping up each year.

So… are crystals rocks? While many people refer to crystals as rocks, this is not technically accurate. Crystals are composed of atoms, forming a distinct structure. Minerals consist of crystals, and rocks are made up of multiple minerals. This distinction is crucial in understanding the differences between crystals, minerals, and rocks!

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