Precious Stones and Semi-Precious Stones: Misconceptions

Both precious and semi-precious stones are types of gemstones that are categorized according to their rarity and beauty. The two terms are said to have derived from old Western traditions; however, nowadays, most stones are considered precious, since there is a limited supply of them.

The gemstones that are traditionally precious are:

All other gemstones are considered semi-precious, some of the more known ones crafted into fine jewellery pieces being:

  • Amber
  • Alexandrite
  • Amethyst
  • Aquamarine
  • Coral
  • Garnet
  • Jade
  • Jasper
  • Larimar
  • Onyx
  • Opal
  • Quartz
  • Topaz
  • Turquoise

Gemstone Myths

The idea is that previous stones are higher in value because of their extraordinary colour, shine, and extreme rarity. While precious stones are particularly exquisite, the conventional distinction between the two gemstones is actually full of misconceptions.

Semi-precious and precious stones date back to old tradition: MYTH

Actually, the terms can only be traced back to 1858, when the first use of “semi-precious” meant “of less commercial value than a precious stone”.

The four precious stones have always been the only ones: MYTH

In fact, Pearl, Opal, and amethyst were all at one point considered precious stones. Only following a discovery of large quantities of amethyst in Brazil and Uruguay in the first half of the nineteenth century was amethyst considered semi-precious.

Diamond is the rarest stone: MYTH

Funnily enough, coloured gemstones such as ruby and sapphire were more highly sought-after than diamond—they were, and actually still are, rarer. In the twentieth century, very large quantities of diamonds were discovered in South Africa. At the same time, the superficial value of diamond had risen to the point where now, diamond is considered the most precious stone of all. This is all thanks to a 1920s advertising campaign selling diamonds as expressions of love. This set a cultural expectation of diamonds and is still in effect today. Though diamonds do sparkle the most brilliantly compared to all other stones, in reality, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires are all rare finds.

To Marlow’s Diamond and Design, all our gemstones are precious. Contact us today and find the highest quality stones for the best value.