Why are some stones precious while others become semi-precious stones?

precious stone


Gemstones are cut, purified minerals that are used to manufacture jewellery or decorations. They can be precious or semi-precious. All other gemstones are semi-precious, except diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Surprisingly, there is no distinction between the two; instead, this is a marketing classification created years ago to give valuable stones a false impression of value.

What makes the classification?

Diamond, ruby, sapphires, and emeralds are all considered precious gemstones discovered in ancient times and can only be found in specific locations of the planet. Rubies, for example, were discovered in Myanmar as early as 600AD (modern-day Burma). They're all transparent or semi-transparent as roughs, giving them a visual appeal that appealed to rulers. Wars were fought, and ships sailed across oceans, searching for the largest and most valuable gems. Consider the time and effort required to recover a single gemstone, and you'll see why no ordinary person could ever get their hands on one. They were valuable because of their rarity. Some of the so-called semi-precious gemstones, such as alexandrite and kunzite, discovered in 1830 and 1902, respectively, are relatively "new" in the gemological world. Mobility and scientific advancements in the twentieth century have enabled us to examine terrains systematically for gemstone resources and maximise excavation production.

What are precious stones?

The term "precious stone" refers to four different gems: diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Precious stones are usually translucent and cut by faceting. Opals, jade, and pearls have been placed in the "precious stones" category by some, but they have not been widely used. Many people assume that "precious stones" are more important and valuable than "semiprecious stones" since they are divided into "precious" and "semiprecious" categories. The fact that diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds often cost more per carat than semiprecious stones lends some credence to this theory. The United States Geological Survey reports that precious stones account for approximately 98 per cent of the dollar value of gemstone imports for consumption in the United States.

What are semi-precious stones?

All sorts of gemstones that are not classified as "precious" are referred to as "semiprecious stones" or "semi-precious stones." Any gemstone that may be used as a form of personal decoration would be included. Some people believe that using the term "semiprecious" is demeaning, irresponsible, deceptive, or confusing and should be avoided. They believe that "precious stones" and "other stones" should be separated. Unfortunately, getting rid of the term "semiprecious" would be quite difficult. Thousands of popular books have been written with the word "semiprecious" in the last 150 years.

What makes precious stones more valuable than semi-precious stones?

  1. If we try to define the word "precious" in terms of gemstones today, we might develop a different definition. Rarity and demand are two significant deciding factors. Rarity is linked to supply, whereas demand is linked to knowledge. Amethyst, for example, was utilised on adornments as early as 2000 BCE. It may come as a surprise to find that until the 1800s, gem-quality amethysts were valued at the same level as rubies. After that, a new source was discovered in South America, specifically Brazil, which has been supplying the globe with abundant amounts of purple quartz ever since.
  2. Even though the supply is limited, a gemstone is not necessarily valuable, at least not in monetary terms. Typically, if only a few people are aware of a gemstone, they will not create demand for it. In this scenario, there is no market. Hence there are no regular transactions and thus no actual value reference. Grandidierite that is transparent and facetted is so uncommon that the few examples that have been found weigh less than a carat after being fashioned. This stone is not only rare, but its availability is also limited and inconsistent, making it impossible to satisfy taste and demand. When describing natural gemstones that do not occur in sufficient quantity for a broader market but are uncommon instances of excellent quality and thus highly desirable, we choose the term "collector's stones."
  3. When we calibrate the preciousness of a diamond by its price, it is always easier to grasp for the general audience. However, a prudent buyer should always remember that the quality of a gemstone is more essential than its species in determining its market worth. For example, when comparing two gemstones of equal weight, a poor ruby does not usually cost as much as a magnificent red spinel. On the other hand, the tsavorite garnet is more expensive than a standard commercial-quality emerald.
  4. Both beauty and desirability are subjective qualities that are determined by the observer's judgement. It would be interesting to show a random cross-section of people superb specimens of diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire, and opal and ask them which is the most beautiful or desirable. It's possible that opal, which is usually called a "semiprecious stone," will win or place higher in the competition than the "precious stones."
  5. The terms "precious" and "semiprecious" do not refer to the stones' "grade." The term "grade" refers to a broad assessment of gemstone quality and marketability that considers colour, clarity, and possible price. Some rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and diamonds have a low grade, resulting in many semiprecious stones being more highly valued.


Experts have undoubtedly classified gems for millennia. Several factors are considered, including hardness, colour, size, purity, and rarity. However, each person's perception of a stone's beauty is incredibly particular and distinct. Therefore, the choice of stone should be based on one's sensitivity to the energy it emits. All gemstones are valuable in the sense that if they provide you with significance and value in a piece of jewellery, they are unique! Keep in mind that colours are subjective, and jewellery is an emotional purchase.