This is a question I get a lot. The easy answer is, they are related. But for those who are interested in the details, there are distinct differences that can help one to better understand and identify them in collections and for other uses.
All minerals, crystals, and rocks come from the same family of elements identified on what is known as the Periodic Table.
Minerals are chemically combined elements that occur naturally, are usually capable of forming crystals, and are not produced by life processes (i.e. biological means). Minerals also have a very specific and consistent chemical composition. As of March 2018, the International Mineralogical Association has listed over 5,500 minerals. Common examples of solid minerals include salt, quartz, copper, iron, and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Things like coal, oil, and water are sometimes called minerals, but, by strict definition, they are not.
Crystals are solid materials made up of atoms, molecules, or ions (generally minerals) arranged in a highly ordered microscopic structure known as a crystal lattice, that extends in all directions. Crystals can generally be identified by their geometrical shape. Some common examples include quartz crystal, diamonds, rubies, and selenite.
Rocks (stones) are natural, solid aggregates of one or more minerals or mineraloids. Rocks are classified into three general groups: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. Common examples include granite, sandstone, and chalcedony (agates and jaspers).
So, while there are differences, minerals, crystals, and rocks belong to the same family. But like all family members, their differences are what make them unique and special for their individual characters, uses, and enjoyment.
Authors: Jerry & Lisa Griffin
Rocks and minerals are at the core of what we do here at Real Earth Creations. We collect them, cut them, polish them, make jewelry with them, and wear them. They connect us to the earth and the universe and they connect us to you when you walk through the door of our shop.