Gemstones Deserve a Better Name Than “Semi-Precious” Stones

My love of gemstones goes back to my crystal-hunting days. I kept my prized “crystal” collection within eyeshot as to me it was the most valuable thing on this planet, and I remember categorizing and recategorizing, sorting and resorting them, based on all kinds of my own made-up criteria and classifications—ones that sparkled vs ones that didn’t, ones that showed (what I now know is) crystal structure vs ones that didn’t, ones I found in the dirt vs ones I found at the river, and by color. Thinking back, I also now know that the “diamonds” and “gold” I had were actually a few kinds of quartz—rose quartz and smoky quartz, amethyst—some mica, “fool’s gold” or pyrite, and several kinds of agate or jasper, among other plain old “rocks.”

When I recall my childlike gemological classifications, I have to cackle at myself —I was pretty wise in my crystal structure distinctions. But one way I certainly never dreamed of classifying my gems was as precious vs semi-precious stones; they were all like magic to me, each one just as precious if not as sparkly as the rest.

Now that I’m older and hopefully wiser, I feel even more adverse to the term “semi-precious” in regards to gemstones. After all, the ones considered precious—diamond, ruby, emerald, and sapphire—aren’t the most rare, aren’t always the most valuable, and aren’t necessarily the most beautiful since beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder.

I’m certainly not running down those “precious” gems–my heart skips for a sparkly diamond just as much as the next girl’s, the gorgeous rubicund of a fine ruby makes me swoon, and I adore the velvety rich blue of a fine sapphire, if not all the other colors, as well—I’m just promoting the “semi-precious” gems. Some of my favorite gemstones—including rubellite and indicolite tourmalines, poor underloved spinels, lovely blue little benitoites, and pearls, of course, always pearls—all fall into the “semi-precious” category. Really? I certainly do not agree!

And how about the opaque gems? I admit I never fully appreciated the beauty in opaque gems until I saw a fine pietersite about. The swirling colors in it were exquisite and reminded me of those deep-space photos sent back from a NASA satellite. Jaspers (including mookaite, are one of my firm favourites), agates, and a wide variety of other gem cabochons can all be just as lovely in their own way, bringing a mix of color and unique textures that other gems simply cannot give one—and generally at a much lower price, and that I consider a huge bonus!

Over the past five years or so, along with many other jewelry designers, I’ve fallen for the beauty of opaque versions of typically known transparent gems, such as aquamarine and ruby. This option allows you to use very colorful and often large, bold versions of popular, well-known gems at a much more affordable price.

So the next time you’re in the market for some stones to enhance adorn yourself with, consider the “semi-precious” transparent faceted gems and those peculiarly beautiful opaque cabs and slices.

Celebrate the wonderful power of gemstones as described in our website under each item we have showcased.