Jewelry Terminology: Precious and Semi Precious

By on 27/08/2014

buying-jewelry-1249Many buyers and sellers are confused about the terms “precious” and “semi-precious.” In reality, these terms have more to do with antiquated import and export tariff descriptions than they do with gemstone eminence or worth.

Most people believe that semi-precious stones or gems are less valuable, beautiful, worthy or desirable when compared to precious gems. Not only is this misleading, in many cases it is completely inaccurate.  In fact, most jewelry professionals strongly advise that these terms be evaded when conversing about gemstones with patrons.

The terms originated when the USA import and export laws from the 20th century discussed the terms to establish different tax and duty levels on gems by dividing them into different groups that is precious and semi-precious. The terms were quickly adopted by both buyers and sellers. At this time only four types of gems, namely rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds were considered precious and all others stones were considered as less valuable and less desirable and grouped under the semi-precious category.

Many gemstones that fall into the semi-precious assemblage have a much superior value and price than the precious gems. For examples, semi-precious gems like high-quality and distinct tanzanite, opals, jadeite or garnets can easily sell for more than a few thousands of dollars per carat, which is probably equivalent and/or higher than prices of precious gemstones like rubies , sapphires and emeralds.

So should all gemstones be considered as precious? By definition all gemstones are minerals or other natural materials that possess the beauty and durability required to be used for personal adornment or ornamental use. As per this definition, many people believe all gemstones to be considered as precious.

It is important to understand the beauty, size, abundance, desirability and rarity of colored gemstones rather than the value factors like cut, lucidity and color. Moreover, terms like precious and semi-precious gemstones is nothing more than outdated and must be avoided.

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