A gemstone or gem (also called a fine gem, jewel, or a precious or semi-precious stone) is a piece of mineral crystal, which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments. However, certain rocks (such as lapis lazuli) or organic materials that are not minerals (such as amber or jet), are also used for jewelry, and are therefore often considered to be gemstones as well. Most gemstones are hard, but some soft minerals are used in jewelry because of their luster or other physical properties that have aesthetic value. Rarity is another characteristic that lends value to a gemstone. Apart from jewelry, from earliest antiquity engraved gems and hardstone carvings, such as cups, were major luxury art forms. A gem maker is called a lapidary or gemcutter; a diamond worker is a diamantaire.
The carvings of Carl Fabergé are significant works in this tradition.
Seventy-five-year-old Sarah, Duchess of Whitfield, looks back on her long and eventful life. The daughter of a wealthy American family in New York in the 1930s, Sarah Thompson marries Freddie. With little interest in her, he drinks all night and associates with prostitutes. Sarah becomes pregnant but miscarries, and she and Freddie divorce. Her parents drag a listless Sarah to Europe, where well-meaning friends and family force their nephews, sons and grandsons on her. She meets William Whitfield, the Duke of Whitfield, 13th in line for succession to the British throne. Captivated by him, she finally becomes his companion in London. William soon casts aside her fears of a public scandal and finally convinces Sarah to marry him.
Jewels has been called the first full-length abstract ballet. It has three related movements Emeralds, Rubies, and Diamonds (usually separated by intermissions). It can also be seen as three separate ballets, linked by their jewel-colored costumes. Balanchine commented: "The ballet had nothing to do with jewels. The dancers are just dressed like jewels." Each of the three acts features the music of a different composer: Emeralds is set to the music of Gabriel Fauré, Rubies to the music of Igor Stravinsky and Diamonds to music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.