Why we love and collect gems


Semi-precious stonesPrecious and semi-precious stones have long been revered for their beauty. The ancient Greeks are thought to have originally drawn the distinction between precious and semi-precious gemstones. While the term precious refers to gemstones that are considered rarer, there are semi-precious gemstones that may be worth just as much and are equally beautiful. These days we know that diamonds are certainly not especially rare, but they are still expensive to mine and therefore remain among the most expensive precious stones.


History of gemstones and semi-precious stones


Gemstones are mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible. Aaron had twelve gemstones on his breastplate, which was seen as a spiritual garment and worn for ceremonial purposes. The breastplate was said to have represented the twelve tribes if Israel as well as the twelve apostles.


Later on during the 15th century, this belief was broadened to include additional meaning, thus assigning gemstones to star signs, making them more popular among royalty, aristocracy and the like.


Coinciding with a growing middle class in the beginning of the 1900s, marketers formalised the connections between gemstones and birth months, reinforcing the sentimentality of jewellery. At the same time, the precious and semi-precious stones gained not only meaning but also value.


Superstition surrounding gemstones and semi-precious stones

Many a temple, tomb and statue have been generously encrusted, embellished and adorned with precious and semi-precious stones alike. It is likely that this is a contributing factor to the superstition surrounding gemstones; however, the fact remains that still today many people attribute meaning, mystical qualities and healing properties to the stones. Seen to ease emotional maladies and chronic illness of all kinds, gemstones are worn by some not only for the purpose of adornment.


gem stonesInteresting facts

  • The big four are the diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald. They are seen as precious stones, considered rarer and are generally expensive.
  • Not only diamonds are judged by the 4 Cs, colour, clarity, carat and cut. Other semi-precious stones are also valued against these criteria.
  • The ideal gemstone is bight or vivid in colour, transparent without visible flaws, large and cut in such a way as to enhance its beauty. These criteria are a standard set to ensure that the gemstone refracts as much light or sparkle as possible.
  • A gemmologist classifies precious and semi-precious stones by ascertaining the gem’s chemical arrangement, thus ensuring a garnet is not sold as a ruby and vice versa.
  • A carat is not a measure of size, but rather a measure of weight.


You should now be ready to adjust your longstanding belief that diamonds are a girl’s best friend; all things sparkly are actually a girl’s best friend. Semi-precious stones are no less a magnificent gemstone upon which to cast the eye. In fact, a well cut semi-precious gemstone can be more rewarding for the simple fact that you are more likely to wear it outside your house.


Semi-precious stones