Precious Stones vs Semi-Precious Stones

by Francis Alukkas | 09 June 2022 | GEMSTONE

If you are interested in stones and love jewelry with stones, then you know that there are basically two types of gemstones - precious and semi-precious stones. All of them are used in making beautiful jewelry in different styles.

While neither of them is easy to obtain and is quite expensive, precious stones are commonly believed to be more valuable than semi-precious ones. But the perception has been changing over the years, and now there are many experts who do not use such classifications when differentiating gemstones.

Precious Stones

Traditionally, only four stones come under the precious stones list: diamond, sapphire, ruby, and emerald. All others come under the semi-precious stones list. Let us have a look at these four precious stones.

Sapphires and rubies come from a mineral called corundum. Sapphires usually come in blue color. However, they also come in yellow, orange, and green colors, depending upon their chemical composition. Sapphires are mainly found in Burma, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, India, China, Brazil, Thailand, and some African countries.

Rubies come in different shades of red, from pink to purple, or even slightly brown. The bright red color rubies are the rarest and most sought-after rubies. Synthetic rubies can also be found in the market these days. Rubies are classified based on their type as star, faceted, cabochon, and trapiche. They come mainly from Burma and Mozambique. They are also found in countries like Sri Lanka, Tanzania, etc.

Emerald is a precious stone that comes in various shades of green. They are usually smaller in size compared to other stones and more sensitive to shocks. Large emeralds are so rare that they can be 20 times more valuable than diamonds of the same size. Emeralds are usually found in Colombia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Brazil.

Diamonds are perhaps the most well-known precious stone amongst all of them. It is known as the hardest natural material on earth. They come in a varying palette of colors. Even among white diamonds, there are many shades. They also come in rare and unusual colors. Red diamonds are the rarest. Blue, green, pink, and orange are other rare colors that diamonds come in. They are usually found in India, South Africa, Canada, Russia, and Brazil. Also, Read: Birthstones for Each Month: Buyer’s Guide

One of the most common factors among them is their exceptional hardness. But they are not hard and can easily be shattered. For this reason, they need to be stored carefully.

Semi-Precious Stones
Semi-Precious Stones

All gemstones other than the four precious stones (diamond, ruby, sapphire, and emerald) are considered to be semi-precious stones. Some of the common ones in the semi-precious stones list are alexandrite, agate, amethyst, aquamarine, garnet, lapis lazuli, moonstone, opal, pearl, peridot, rose quartz, spinel, tanzanite, tourmaline, turquoise, and zircon.

Gemstones were distinguished between precious and semi-precious stones a long time ago, considering their rarity and value at the time. Today, there are many semi-precious gemstones that are more valuable than precious stones. For example, Some pearls cost more than rubies and diamonds out there. Similarly, some semi-precious stones like demantoid garnets, etc., are rarer and harder to mine than precious stones.

The 4 Cs of Grading Precious and Semi-Precious Stones

The quality and value of gemstones are determined internationally by the 4Cs: Cut, Colour, Clarity, and Carat (weight). All gemstones are usually tested by experts with the help of advanced equipment and are usually certified by the most-reliable gemological laboratories around the world. Also, Read: Fancy Diamond Jewellery: An Ultimate Guide

Carat (Weight): One carat is equal to 200 mg. Carat weight is not a standard measurement of dimension because all gemstones have different densities. As a result, different gemstones with the same weight will come in different sizes. However, large gemstones are rare to find, and their prices are always higher.

Cut: A gemstone is said to be at its finest when it has pleasing symmetry and smooth polished surfaces. Colored gemstones are cut with precision to accentuate their color and maintain weight.

Clarity: Clarity in precious stones means their transparency without any inclusions in the crystal structure itself. Semi-precious stones have low clarity in that sense but are highly valued for their intriguing inclusions.

Colour: The color of a gemstone is evaluated in three stages. Its hue (the dominant color), saturation or intensity, and tone (the darkness or lightness appearing). Unlike the other three Cs. The color of a gemstone is a personal preference.

Also, Read: Diamond Color and Clarity Explained in Detail

As we have learned that precious stones need not necessarily be the rarest and most precious stones available, semi-precious stones jewelry is a good option when you look to buy attractive ornaments. Every stone, be it precious or semi-precious, adds a certain quality to the piece of jewelry. Choose the colors and gemstones that speak to you.

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