Precious Stones vs. Semi-Precious Stones
By Sam Serio
Stones have been worn by both women and men since prehistoric times.
Just as in the jewelry of modern times, beautiful stones, rare and colorful, are most
often the dominant feature of a piece with a metallic setting for ornamentation.
The stones used in the crafting of fine jewelry are generally divided
into two classes- precious stones and semi-precious stones.
These terms are used heavily in the commercial world of jewelry when
considering variety and value. While artistic merits are only a matter of opinion, the
value of a stone is what it will bring in the marketplace. It should also be mentioned
that many people, collectors and general consumers alike, prefer the rare to the
These stones are simply rocks (minerals) taken from the earth, and
after they have been enhanced by the artisans cutting and polishing, the finest and rarest
of them are what we call gems.
The most precious stones are the diamonds, emeralds, rubies and
sapphires. The pearl is oftentimes classed with precious stones. Although strictly
speaking while it is not a stone it holds an esteemed place in jewelry.
A large number of stones used in jewelry are known as semi-precious;
the most important ones are as follow: amethyst, lapis-lazuli, turquoise, aquamarine,
topaz, moonstone, peridot, opal, tourmaline, zircon, chrysoberyl, alexandrite. Others of
less importance although much used are: chrysoprase, jade, garnet, agate, azurite,
malachite, bloodstone, coral, carnelian and many others. These stones while comparatively
common and inexpensive are indispensable to the worker in jewelry. The variety of colors
to be had in these stones make it possible to produce unusual designs of artistic merit
and to adapt them to the personality and costume of the wearer. For more detailed
information regarding gem stones the reader is referred to Gem Stones by G.F.
Herbert Smith, also The Curious Lore of Precious Stones, by George Frederick