Some examples of silicate minerals are quartz, talc, tourmaline and garnet; some examples of nonsilicate minerals are calcite, gypsum, alabaster, and the native elements copper, gold and silver. A negatively charged silicate ion, or anion, forms the basic building block of the silicate minerals, and feldspars represent the largest group found in the Earth's crust. Among the nonsilicate minerals, calcite and dolomite are critical in rock formation.
Minerals found in both the silicate and the nonsilicate mineral groups assist in the formation of rocks. Because of the abundance of silicon and oxygen in the Earth's crust, the silicate minerals, which contain silicon and oxygen, are also the most abundant. Approximately 90 percent of the Earth's crust contains silicate minerals.
Among the nonsilicate minerals, the native elements are those elements that are found in their native state, such as carbon, platinum, and silver. Other nonsilicate mineral groups include the carbonates, halides, oxides, phosphates, sulfates and sulfides.
All minerals are naturally-formed inorganic substances that have ordered atomic strictures. They are different from rocks, which are aggregates of various substances, but minerals can help to create rocks by binding various components into their aggregate forms.
There are currently more than 4,600 formally defined minerals, many of which are named after the individuals who discovered them or where they were discovered. About 20 different minerals are found in the form of gemstones.