We have all heard of precious and semiprecious stones and perhaps you are not entirely clear about the difference between one and the other, right? Both stand out for their beauty, but there are certain aspects that differentiate them. However, there are certain aspects that differentiate them. What about gems? What types of stones are they? Below, we are going to clarify these terms, so if you also have these doubts, we invite you to read on.

Characteristics of precious and semiprecious stones

To begin with, it should be clarified that gems are all, both precious and semiprecious stones. For a mineral to be classified as a gemstone, it must meet three requirements, and depending on them, a gemstone will be classified as precious or semi-precious:

  1. Durability: the higher the value of the gemstone, the more durable it will be. The scale goes from 1 to 10, being the diamond the only gem with the highest grade. This quality has to do with the gem's resistance to the most common chemical agents or its hardness to shocks and pressure.
  2. Beauty: also known as perfection of a stone. This factor depends on the brilliance, purity, transparency, color and internal inclusions of each stone.
  3. Rarity or scarcity: it is determined by the difficulty to find it in nature and the demand for that gem throughout history. The more difficult it is to find it and the more demand it has, the higher its price will be in the market.

In this way, precious stones will therefore be the hardest and rarest, the most perfect and beautiful and the scarcest.

Decades ago, some gems that today are semiprecious were considered as precious, as is the case of amethyst, but after it was discovered in huge deposits in Brazil, it became part of the semiprecious stones, since it is not so unknown and scarce.

Another difference between both types of stones is that precious stones have a hardness between 8 and 10 on the Mohs scale, while semi-precious stones are below 8. Below, we show you the Mohs scale, by which the hardness of ten types of minerals is ordered from highest to lowest, being diamond the hardest and talc the softest:

Types of gemstones

Gemstones have great value due to their purity and rarity. At present, there are only 4:

  1. Diamond: the most popular mineral of all, the one with the highest value, the hardest on the planet and the only one made of a single material: carbon. They are so resistant that they can only be cut by another diamond. Originally, their name comes from the Greek adamus meaning "invincible", "indestructible". Although they are typically considered colorless, their color spectrum is very broad, with yellows and browns being the most common. The value of the diamond is determined by what is known as the "4 C's": cut (cut), carat (carat), clarity (clarity) and color (color).
  2. Ruby: its name comes from the Latin ruber, whose meaning is "red". This mineral is the red variety of the corundum mineral (like sapphire) and is the hardest stone after diamond, as it has a value of 9 on the Mohs scale. Its peculiar red color is due to the metals that compose it, a mixture of chromic oxide.
  3. Emerald: its name derives from the Persian smaragdos and means "green stone". It is one of the most valued stones and one of the most beautiful and fascinating that we can find, as it is the only crystalline green stone. There are other green stones, but none has the color and transparency of the emerald. Its hardness scale is 7.5-8.
  4. Sapphire: refers only to blue sapphire, unless a color is specified, as there are other shades, the most valued being blue. Its name comes from the Greek sappheiros, meaning "blue". Like ruby, it belongs to the corundum variety. It has a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale. Its scarcity is increasing day by day, since many of the deposits are exhausted and those that exist do not meet the demand.

Types of semi-precious stones

We should not despise this type of stones because they carry the prefix "semi", since they have nothing to envy to the precious ones in terms of beauty. In fact, it is possible that we are talking about a derogatory and false description in this type of gems. What happens is that this denomination is deeply rooted in the jewelry guild. It is true that many of them have a lower value than the precious ones. However, there are currently gems that cost the same or more than their cousins, except for diamonds, which are the most valuable. For example, a ruby, a sapphire or emerald can be cheap if they are not of good quality, even cheaper than agate, aquamarine or amethyst. On the other hand, there are semiprecious stones such as alexandrite, paraiba tourmaline, demantoid garnet and tanzanite that due to their scarcity can reach very high prices in the market.

It is easier to obtain semiprecious stones of great size and purity than precious stones with such characteristics. Their value will depend on the same characteristics that influence precious stones: rarity, beauty and durability. There are currently about 130 types of semi-precious stones, apart from amber, which is not a mineral but a fossilized plant resin.

Some of the best known semiprecious stones are amethyst, topaz, peridot, tiger's eye, tourmaline, opal, onyx, garnet, tanzanite, jasper, quartz, citrine and zircon.

We hope this article has been useful and that you have a better understanding of the differences between the two types of stones. And you, what kind of gemstones do you like the most? We encourage you to leave us your comments and we invite you to visit ouronline jewelry , where you will find jewelry with precious and semiprecious stones in 18 karat gold. In addition, we have a physical store located in the historical center of Malagawhere we will be happy to assist you. If you liked our post and want to be informed of all our news and promotions, subscribe to our blog and you will receive a 10% discount coupon as a welcome gift.

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