How to Tell the Difference between Precious Stones and Semi-Precious Stones

10 September 2021

Precious stones are identified and valued according to their quality, the beauty of their hues and how rare they are. Only four precious stones have been identified: diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds. The remaining stones of beauty and allure that are used in making stunning jewellery are classified as semi-precious stones. These stones are also distinguished by their inherent hardness or resistance to scratching.

A diamond can be scratched only by another diamond. Yet a significant shock can crack a diamond. The degree of hardness of stones is calculated on the Mohs scale, ranking them on a scale of one to ten. Diamonds rank 10/10, rubies 9/10, sapphires 9/10 and emeralds 7.5-8/10. Although these stones are noted as the hardest types, any stones are somewhat fragile and need good care.

How to Distinguish Precious Stones from Semi-Precious Stones

Tips for distinguishing precious stones from semi-precious ones include the following:

• Colour. Precious gems are available in just a few colours. However, they can retain their brilliant lustre and colouration for long-term enjoyment by jewellery enthusiasts, even with everyday wear. In contrast, semi-precious stones offer a wider variety of colours, but their appearance may become dull with daily wear. Some are quite sensitive to temperature changes and exposure to sweat and chemicals.

• Hardness. Precious stones are typically quite durable with a high ranking for mineral hardness. Diamonds rate the highest on the Mohs scale for hardness, followed by rubies, sapphires and emeralds. Semi-precious gems usually score a lower ranking of 7.5 or below for hardness, and they can scratch or chip more easily than precious stones. Yet as noted above, all gems, whether precious or semi-precious, need gentle treatment for long-term use and enjoyment.

• Rarity. Precious gems are often considered rare stones and are classified according to their degree of rarity. Yet large diamond deposits were discovered in 1867. However, the unequalled brilliance and extreme popularity of diamonds have kept them rated as number one in the category of precious stones. Semi-precious gems are fairly abundant natural stones. Tanzanites are rarer than diamonds, but since they are softer than diamonds, they are classified as semi-precious gems.

• Clarity. It is rare to find a precious gem that is completely eye-clean. Even sapphires and emeralds with the highest quality ratings have slight imperfections or inclusions. Yet there is an abundance of high-quality semi-precious gems that are eye-clean.

• Affordability. With their high ratings for hardness, rarity, quality and popularity, precious gems have quite high prices. In comparison, semi-precious gemstones are very reasonable in price.

• Popularity. Precious gems are highly desired for their exceptional beauty, their rarity and their tenacity. In comparison, semi-precious stones are very popular for jewellery pieces due to their colour diversity and affordable pricing.

When you consult our experts at Ken Ross Jewellers located in Ashburton, Victoria, you will receive excellent advice and tips to help you distinguish between precious and semi-precious stones. Our experienced jewellers can also offer you a wide selection in both of these categories of beautiful, lustrous stones as well as stunning settings for displaying your lovely gemstones.

Our professionals will ensure that your item of precious or semi-precious stone jewellery completely satisfies and even surpasses your every desire, preference and dream.

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