What are semi-precious gemstones?


The ornamental use of jewellery and gemstones is profoundly rooted in human culture. They took on intimate, public, and theological meanings for men, growing in social significance as human societies progressed. We seem to be especially drawn to gemstones. They have religious, healing, prestige, political, and wealth connotations and have become icons of both ancient and modern societies. It is not surprising that the term precious was applied to the rarest and most sought after gems in antiquity. The words precious and semi-precious became popular in the nineteenth century. "Precious" denoted the most valuable gemstones, while "semi-precious" denoted the remaining exemplars important to jewellery. It all comes down to rarity and craftsmanship to qualify as a valuable semi-precious stone. When amethysts were scarce, they were considered precious; however, once large deposits of amethysts were discovered in many parts of the world, this gemstone lost its status as a precious stone. Diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds are precious stones in the Western world. The other stones are classified as semi-precious. The distinction between “precious stone” and “semi-precious stone” is a commercial one that isn't always applicable. They are words that were coined as a selling tactic by those trying to sell precious stones. There are numerous examples of semi-precious stones that command a premium.

What are semi-precious gemstones?

A semi-precious gemstone is any gemstone that is not a diamond, ruby, emerald, or sapphire. The term "semi-precious" gemstone does not imply that it is less valuable than precious gemstones. Semi-precious gemstones are simply more plentiful (but there are a few exceptions). Semi-precious gemstones are valued primarily based on their colour, availability, and consistency. The terms "semiprecious stones" and "semi-precious stones" refer to all gemstones that are not classified as "precious." Any gemstone that can be used for personal adornment will be included. Semiprecious stones include gemstones crafted from agate, amber, amethyst, aquamarine, aventurine, chalcedony, chrysocolla, chrysoprase, citrine, garnet, hematite, jade, jasper, jet, kunzite, lapis lazuli, malachite, moonstone, obsidian, onyx, peridot. Some people claim that the term "semiprecious" is insulting, provocative, deceptive, or ambiguous and should be phased out. They believe that "precious stones" and "other stones" should be separated. But it will be tremendously difficult to get rid of the term "semiprecious." Hundreds of famous books with the term "semiprecious" in their titles have been published over the last 150 years. Today, the word can be found in thousands of books, journals, websites, and other documents written by gem and jewellery firms, government agencies, and essential gemological institutions.

Characteristics of semi-precious gems

Before purchasing a gemstone from a local store or online, it is important to recognise its properties and benefits. The characteristics of gemstones are discussed further below.

  1. The colour of a gemstone is what distinguishes and adds charm to it. There are colourless gemstones as well, but they are less common, except for a diamond. Most gemstones are translucent, but others, such as opal, coral, and lapis lazuli, are opaque.
  2. Clarity is also another essential attribute of a gemstone. Many gemstones have inclusions because they are formed under various conditions and may have mineral deposits or fissures. This, however, does not diminish the elegance or importance of a gemstone. It is sporadic for a gemstone to have very little to no inclusions, and they will be costly.
  3. Oval, round, or cushion-shaped gemstones are all possible. The cut of the gemstone improves its overall elegance and value. A great gemstone cut is one that precisely emits the gem's colour, minimises inclusions, and makes the gemstone symmetrical and proportionate.
  4. The volume and quality of light reflected from a gemstone's surface determines how lustrous it is. The lustre's shine enhances the elegance of the gemstones, making it an important consideration when selecting gems for jewellery design.
  5. Its size does not determine the carat weight of a gemstone. Since the carat value of a gemstone is determined by its density, two gemstones of the same size have different carat weights. The density of the gemstone differs from one stone to the next.

Does the term ‘semi-precious’ stones mean less valuable and less preferable?

The classification of gemstones as "precious" and "semiprecious" can lead some people to believe that "precious stones" are more valuable, rare, beautiful, or desirable than "semiprecious stones." Here are only three of the issues referring to specific stones as "precious" because of their importance, rarity, appearance, or desirability.

  • Semi-precious gems have much higher per-carat prices than another individual "precious stones" sold in the US market. Their values are higher than those of other diamonds of comparable carat weight. These examples demonstrate unequivocally that semiprecious stones can be extremely valuable. The Aurora Australis Opal sold for $1 million in 2004, a price of more than $5,500 per carat. High-quality 8x10 millimetre jade cabochons weighing around 2.5 carats will fetch up to $25,000. Red beryl gems have sold for more than $10,000 per carat.
  • Many semiprecious stones are more valuable than precious stones. Red beryl, ammolite, benitoite, gem silica, demantoid garnet, tsavorite garnet, tanzanite, ametrine, and various other gems are found in fewer places and manufactured in smaller amounts than "precious" stones. They are extremely rare in comparison, but that does not qualify them as "precious."
  • Beauty and desirability are also subjective properties dependent on the observer's perception. It would be fascinating to show excellent samples of diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire, and opal to a random spectrum of people and ask them the most attractive or valuable in their opinion. It is likely that opal, traditionally called a "semiprecious stone," would win or place higher in the competition than the "precious stones."

Explore Iris Gems Semi-Precious Gemstones

Semi-Precious gemstones are the most sought gemstones after ruby, emerald, tanzanite and sapphire gemstones.

Iris Gems offers all kinds of genuine natural semi-precious gemstones at prices lower than wholesale suppliers.

semi-precious gemstones

                                                    SHOP THESE GEMSTONE'S

Why are semi-precious gemstones so popular in jewellery making?

Semi-precious stone jewellery is very common among both sexes. Millions of buyers and sellers all over the world are interested in these jewels. Exquisite gemstones are used to create various jewellery, including delicate and priceless necklaces, earrings, bangles, bracelets, and anklets. The rarity of the stone determines the price of semi-precious stone jewellery. Though it is not as pricey as the original stone jewellery, it has its distinct value today. Most of these stones are more complex than precious stones and therefore do not crack easily. These stones' clarity and colour are equally significant. The price of semi-precious stone jewellery is often determined by how light passes through it. The way light travels through gemstones determines the clarity of the stone. Gemstone earrings and pendants are among the most exquisite and elegant types of jewellery available in many top jewellery stores. These stones are also used in the making of custom jewellery and wedding jewellery. Women wear semi-precious stone jewellery to most formal occasions, such as weddings, social gatherings, and parties. Since these jewels complement various outfits, they can be worn to enhance the look of both an ensemble and the wearer. Aquamarine and opals, for example, stand out due to their unrivalled elegance and glow. Opal jewellery is one of the most appealing and unique types of jewellery.

Some common semi-precious gemstones

Some of the semi-precious stones include-

  1. Pearls are hard artefacts formed in the soft tissue of a shelled mollusk or conulariid. Pearls have a Mohs hardness rating of 2.5 to 4.5.
  2. Black onyx is chalcedony, a type of microcrystalline quartz, and is considered the anniversary gemstone for the tenth year of marriage. On the Mohs scale, black onyx has a hardness of 6.5 to 7.
  3. Opal is a type of silica that looks like glass but is chemically similar to quartz. A variable amount of water can be contained within this mineral. Opal's hardness varies from 5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale.
  4. Blue topaz is a lovely stone that comes in a wide variety of bright blue hues. It is a silicate mineral that contains aluminium and fluorine.
  5. Moonstone is a lustrous mineral composed of sodium potassium aluminium silicate. The sheen effect is caused by light diffraction from inside the microstructure, made up of feldspar layers.


An individual considering buying jewellery should not be swayed by the terms "precious" or "semiprecious." Instead, they should consider the gemstone appeals to them, is appropriate for its intended use, and has a price that they are ready to pay. The words "precious" and "semiprecious" are old and arbitrary descriptors that have never really meant anything.

Explore our semi-precious gemstones collection here



Question- How precious and semi-precious gemstones are different?

Answer- Both precious and semi-precious gemstones are distinguished by their quality, rarity, their colour and beauty. 

Ruby, Emerald, Tanzanite and sapphire are considered precious gemstones apart from other stones considered semi-precious gemstones.

Question: Is diamond a precious stone?

Answer: As compared to precious gemstones, diamonds are not counted as precious gems. They are not considered as rare as precious gemstones.