If someone asked you to name a semi-precious stone, would you be able to? If you're like most people, you might be able to say your birthstone. Many months feature semi-precious stones as their birthstones.
But there are many more semi-precious stones you may not have ever heard of. Let's look at what separates semi-precious stones from others and everything you need to know about them!
Related: What Is High Jewelry?
Precious vs. Semi-Precious Stones
The distinction between precious and semi-precious stones was first made in the mid-1800s and quickly became popular. It is still commonly used, though some jewelers prefer not to use these terms anymore. However, you will still continue to hear gemstones grouped as such.
The most common precious stones are known as the "big four" and include diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds. However, there are seven in total, the other three being Oriental cat's eye, pearl, and alexandrite. These are usually transparent and faceted, though not all, including pearls, are.
Semi-precious stones, then, are all other gemstones that do not fall into the precious stone category. While some mineral stones may not be considered gemstones, simply put, if you can use a stone for personal adornment and it's not a precious stone, it is a semi-precious gemstone.
Interestingly, some gemstones are in the same mineral family yet are classified differently. For example, both aquamarines and emeralds are varieties of beryl. However, emerald is considered precious, while aquamarine is considered semi-precious.
Diamonds vs. Colored Stones
Gemstones can also be broken down into diamonds and colored stones. The diamond group includes all diamonds, even colored diamonds, like pink or chocolate diamonds. Colored stones are anything that is not a diamond. All semi-precious stones may, therefore, also be called colored stones.
This division stems from the need for special gem-cutting tools and the mining and distribution of diamonds. Since they are the hardest natural substance, diamonds require special tools. These tools are usually not able to be used with other gemstones.
What Are Some Examples of Semi-Precious Stones?
There are hundreds of semi-precious stones. Amethyst, aquamarine, garnet, and turquoise are well-known examples. However, there are many more. Remember, a semi-precious stone is anything that is not one of those seven precious stones.
Are Semi-Precious Stones Less Valuable?
When you first hear the term, you may assume that semi-precious stones are somehow less valuable than precious stones. The name seems to indicate this relationship. However, this is not the case. It is unfair to consider semi-precious stones less desirable based on their value, rarity, and beauty. Some semi-precious stones may be more valuable than other precious stones.
For example, the Aurora Australis Opal recently sold for over $5,500 per carat, for a total of $1 million. Red beryl gems can be sold for over $10,000 per carat. When we compare these to diamonds, one of the more common precious stones, it's easy to see that the value is not necessarily less.
The term "grade" can be used as a general measure of quality and marketability. This takes into account clarity, color, and possible price. Some of the "big four" often have low grades that lead them to have a lower price than similar semi-precious stones.
Semi-precious stones are also no less rare than precious stones. They may be found in fewer locations and smaller quantities. Red beryl, garnet, tanzanite, and many others are rarer than any precious stones.
Should You Choose a Semi-Precious Stone?
Whether or not you choose a semi-precious stone for your piece of jewelry is up to you. It's not worth worrying if a gem is precious or semi-precious. Instead, focus on the value, meaning, and beauty you find in the stone.
Plus, considering semi-precious stones may open up your options for jewelry. For example, diamonds don't work well as beads, while quartz, turquoise, and hematite do. By not considering semi-precious stones, you are seriously limiting your choices and preventing yourself from possibly getting a fantastic piece.
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How to Choose Semi-Precious Stones
You'll be met with various options if you're looking to purchase a semi-precious stone. The look of the stones is usually the first part of your choice and will help narrow down your options. Some are translucent and faceted, similar to precious stones. This includes garnet and aquamarine.
Others are opaque with interesting inclusion, like turquoise and lapis lazuli. You can even find iridescent options such as opal.
Another major factor that will play into your choice is color. Each of these stones is a different color, and many are available in various colors. Going into the process with a specific color in mind can help guide you to the right choice. However, consider other colors as well since you may find a color that works even better than your initial choice.
Speaking of keeping your mind open to unique choices, you can also go with a mixture of different stones. This allows you to pick the best of all worlds. It also allows you to create a mix of complementary or contrasting visuals, which works perfectly as a modern take.
Gemstones are rated by their hardness, meaning their resistance to scratching. This rating is done on the Mohs scale. This scale ranges up to ten, with higher numbers indicating harder stones. Diamonds, the hardest material known to man, are a ten on the Mohs scale.
If you are choosing a piece that will be subjected to a lot of wear and tear, you may want to select a gemstone that is a seven or higher. Usually, pieces worn on the hand or wrist, such as rings or bracelets, fall into this category.
On the other hand, a pendant or earrings may not be subjected to as much possible damage. This is because they won't come into contact with other stones or hard surfaces. You can get away with choosing a softer stone.
One benefit of there being so many semi-precious stones is that you'll have options within your budget. You'll have many beautiful and unique jewelry choices, many of which are under $100.
Choose Your Beautiful Semi-Precious Stone Jewelry
Semi-precious stones are a great way to add interest and beauty to any outfit. Whether you choose turquoise, hematite, or any of the other hundreds of options, you can be sure you'll pick a stone you love!
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