by Suzanne Sachs • 5 min read
THE BASICS --
You've heard the term precious and semiprecious gemstones, but what does it really mean? Understanding the origin of this gemstone classification can help you determine which types of gemstone engagement rings may, or may not, be more valuable than others.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW--
What is a Precious Gemstone?
A gemstone is considered more precious when it is rare and not as widely mined as other stones. The general beauty of a stone, the brilliance of its coloration, how its distribution has historically been controlled and how it can be cut for special shapes are all factors that have contributed to some stones being considered more precious than others.
What is a Semi-Precious Gemstone?
The definition of the term "semi" means half, less than others or incomplete. When applied to jewels and gems, this seems to indicate that any semiprecious stones are less valuable than precious gems, or are lacking in some regard. That is just not true, however, and in fact, many so-called semiprecious gemstones can be even more valuable and sought after than traditional precious gems.
What Are the Precious Gemstones?
The four classic gemstones classified as precious are diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. These are also called the cardinal gemstones, and historically they have been regularly used for royal or religious adornments. These gems have been used for jewelry for millennia, and they have all been found in ancient Greece, Egypt, Rome and Mesopotamia, as well as other parts of the world.
Diamond are a statement-making cultural convention and undoubtedly one of the most well-recognized symbols of modern matrimony.
Deep and passionate red, rubies are the perfect gemstone to serve as an everlasting symbol of your love and commitment. Romantic, opulent, and positively breathtaking.
Slightly mysterious and decidedly decadent, sapphires make for truly stunning jewelry. Although sapphires can come in a range of hues, their most popular shade is a deep azure. Velvety blue Kashmir sapphires set the standard for what traditional sapphires “should” look like.
Glittering green emeralds have a striking, sophisticated color and an enthralling appearance. When it comes to fine engagement rings, emeralds are one of the most popular colored gemstones.
In years past other gems have been classified as precious, including pearls, opals and amethysts. Each of these stones was eventually redesignated as semiprecious, however, when new deposits were discovered that made the stones much more widely available and therefore more easily attainable and less expensive.
There is something simply magical about opal. Endlessly enchanting, each milky white stone features a dazzling array of colors and a unique sense of style. Opals don’t just sparkle—they glisten, change colors, and feature fantastic flashes of light that continually demand attention.
With shades ranging from lilac to deep purple, amethysts offer great variety, and they are also popular in a wide variety of ring designs.
The oldest gem, and the only gem found organically in living organisms, pearl is lustrous and stunning with a rich, iridescent sheen.
About Semi-Precious Gemstones?
In general, semiprecious gemstones have historically been more widespread and available for more uses than just by a select group. The greater abundance of these stones can make them less expensive, but in reality, the term "semiprecious" is a marketing tactic first introduced in the mid-1800s as a way to encourage consumers to opt for more expensive stones.
As tranquil as the ocean on a clear day, these breathtaking blue stones are beautiful to behold.
Peridot exudes an enigmatic green glow that is nothing short of extraordinary. Stylish and stunning, these gemstones are a bold, sophisticated choice if you are looking for a sparkling piece of jewelry that defies convention in the best way possible.
There is perhaps no gemstone that is more regal than garnet. Bold and beautiful, these stones are warm and fiery red, unmistakably romantic.
Citrines are yellow-orange gemstones which can be used to produce rings that are incredibly warm, rich, and unique.
Moonstones are nothing short of magical. Their supernatural inner glow produces a remarkable luster that is both decadent and dreamlike.
Turquoise has an iconic appearance that is simply stunning. Although not as “sparkly” as typical transparent gemstones, a striking sky-blue color gives this stone an earthy quality that will resonate with anyone who appreciates the beauty of nature.
Incredibly luxurious and decidedly unexpected, topaz gemstones are an excellent choice when searching for a piece of jewelry that defies convention.
Tourmaline is a mineral-rich crystal that naturally occurs in an impressive breadth of colors.
Colorful, radiant, and glistening, zircon gemstones are undeniably breathtaking. Zircon is an exceptionally versatile and affordable alternative to more expensive gemstones on the market.
Crystal and Chemical Structure
As more studies have been done on the crystal structure and chemical composition of both types of stones, gemologists have discovered that there really is no difference between stones that have been traditionally classified as precious versus those that are classified as semiprecious.
In fact, as more in-depth analysis of gems has become available, some semiprecious stones such as red beryl, ammolite, tanzanite and alexandrite have been found to be much rarer than any traditional precious gem.
Cut and Clarity
At the same time, it is important to remember that there is great variation among all gemstones. A low-quality, poorly cut diamond with visible inclusions and poor color, for example, is far less valuable or desirable than a more common stone that is flawlessly cut with spectacular color and clarity. Personal opinion also plays a great part in stone valuation – some flaws and inclusions can have beautiful effects, or an individual may prefer a stone that shows a flaw or color variation for its uniqueness.
Every Gemstone is Precious
Today, the terms precious and semiprecious are considered misleading and obsolete when classifying gemstones. Instead, the generic term gemstones is applied to all jewelry-quality stones, no matter what type of stones they are, where they originated or how rare they may be.
After all, every gemstone has its own unique beauty, and all have limited quantities and different degrees of rarity. Different organic materials such as amber, pearl and coral are also classified as gemstones when they are finished for jewelry use. Ultimately, every stone is precious if you find it beautiful and desirable.
Discover the beauty in all our gemstone rings and other gemstone jewelry, as well as our collection of loose gemstones and you'll soon agree that every type of stone has precious qualities that make it unique and stunning.
Gemstone Rings For Everyone:
No matter which era is your favorite, these time-honored rings have a rich history and individualized character and will continue to have a timeless beauty and elegant appeal that is part of a legacy to pass on to future generations.
Find The Perfect Engagement Ring:
Vintage rings are prized not only for their beauty but also for their exquisite attention to detailing and faceting. If you’re looking for a ring with a sense of glamour, sophistication and vintage charm, explore our collection of gemstone engagement rings today!