What is the difference between precious and semi-precious gemstones?
This particular classification of precious vs semi-precious gemstones dates from the 1800s. The reason was mainly due to the value and the rarity of the designated precious stones. These terms result from a marketing tactic used by the people who sold precious stones. Only Diamonds, Rubies, Emeralds and Sapphires are considered precious gemstones. However, nowadays depending, on the mineral and the grade, there are some semi-precious gemstones worth much more than a precious stone.
All other stones besides the four mentioned above are semi-precious. To name a few: Amethyst, Aquamarine, Black Onyx, Garnet, Moonstone, Pearl, Spinel, Tourmaline, Turquoise, Zircon. The list is endless. And by the way, Amber and Jet, for instance, that are not even rocks, fall into this category.
Interestingly, there is no clear scientific backing for this categorization of precious and semi-precious gems. For example, an Emerald and an Aquamarine are both mineral varieties of the Beryl. However, an Emerald is a precious gemstone, and an Aquamarine is a semi-precious stone.
What about the 4C's?
Possibly in connection to Diamonds or other precious gemstones, you have heard of the 4 C's: Carat weight, Colour, Clarity and Cut. But did you know that this also applies to semi-precious stones? Each precious and semi-precious stone has a particular colour that makes it perfect or a little less. The same with clarity. Whereas this won't apply as much to gemstones like turquoise. The cut of a gem, just as with a diamond, can make or break it! A perfect stone, incorrectly or inadequately cut, won't dazzle nearly as much as an imperfect stone, perfectly cut to bring out its beauty.
How do you know which precious or semi-precious gemstone to choose?
There are currently about 200 unique gemstones in the world! I advise you not to get caught up in whether a stone is labelled precious or semi-precious. Choose what you like and what attracts you. It might be for its colour(s), shape, particular inclusions, the piece of jewellery itself, or how it makes you feel, then it is unique, valuable, and precious. And if this is not enough, have a look at our Blog "Skin Tone and Jewellery", which might inspire you to choose your gemstone.