- What are precious stones? Names of precious stones.
- What is the difference between a precious stone and a semi-precious stone?
- List of precious stones: descriptions of diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire
- Famous precious stones.
- How is the value determined for a precious stone?
What are precious stones?
Precious stones are defined as visually appealing gemstones created from rocks or minerals. Often used for jewelry and fashion accents, this term was created in the mid-1800’s to refer to four specific stones; diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. All precious stones are translucent and are valued by the richness of their color, except for the diamond, which has a higher value based on being colorless.
Their rarity, beauty, and method in which they are produced all add to the allure of a precious stone. Any accessory containing a precious stone would be deemed sophisticated and worn by someone of high class.
What is the difference between a precious stone and a semi-precious stone?
Precious stones and semi-precious stones are terms that were created in the mid-1800’s to describe gemstones, which were categorized solely based on their rarity. Stones found in abundance were labeled semi-precious, and a stone that was rare would be categorized as precious and more valuable. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds were classified as precious stones. All other stones are classified as semi-precious stones. The distinction between precious and semi-precious stones are their rarity and their quality.
Despite this distinction and classification of precious stones vs. semi-precious stones, it is not necessarily true that a precious stones is always more valuable or rare than a semi-precious stone. For ex. a green garnet known as Tsavorite is classified as a semi-precious stone, however, it is more valuable than an emerald, which is classified as a precious stone. Now, value is measured by several different factors, and precious stones often do not hold more value than semi-precious stones. However, the label is still valuable and is used worldwide to promote and sell jewelry.
List of precious stones. Descriptions of diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire
The diamond is the most popular of all gemstones. The diamond is the highest valued precious stone, which takes millions of years to form. A diamond is a mineral compound made of pure carbon and is the hardest natural substance on the planet. Diamonds are so strong, they can only be cut or polished by another diamond. The name itself is derived from the Greek word “adamus,” which means “invincible.” Diamonds are typically colorless, but yellow, brown, green, gray, black, pink, blue, red, and purple stones can also be found along the diamond color spectrum. Jewelry-grade diamonds are rated based on color from bluish-white to yellow, and on clarity, which ranges from pure to various levels of flawed. Diamonds are measured in carats—the higher the carat weight and purity level of a stone, the more valuable the gem. The diamond is the birthstone for April. See our photo gallery of diamond jewelry.
Known for its brilliant green color, emerald can also have blue or yellow undertones and loses all color when subjected to high heat. Their brittle exterior makes emeralds difficult to shape.The earliest emeralds were mined in Upper Egypt as early as 2,000 B.C. They were mined throughout the reign of Alexander the Great and were well-loved and collected by Cleopatra. The Aztecs and Incas also coveted emeralds, and the Moguls of India revered them so much they inscribed the gems with sacred text to be used to ward off evil. Historically, emeralds have been mined from Russia, Austria, Australia, and Norway. Today, the majority of emeralds are found in Brazil, Zambia, and Columbia. The emerald is the birthstone for May. See our photo gallery of emerald jewelry.
The ruby is a pink to deep red precious gemstone. The name comes from the Latin word for red, ruber. Rubies are said to attract good luck for the wearer. Ancient Hindus believed rubies were a sign of protection from evil. Today, the ruby has come to symbolize love and passion. Rubies were also highly prized by ancient Chinese warriors who were known to wear rubies on their armor. Most rubies today are mined in Africa and Southeast Asia. The largest mined ruby weighing in at four pounds, the Liberty Bell Ruby, was stolen in a heist in 2011. The ruby is the birthstone for July. See our photo gallery of ruby jewelry.
Sapphires come in a variety of colors, but are mostly associated with blue hues. A sapphire of another color, like pink, white or yellow, is generally called a fancy sapphire. The blue sapphire represents peace and serenity. It is seen many times in ancient religious writing to symbolize purity, wisdom, loyalty and faith. Sapphires are mined throughout Africa and Asia, but can be found in Australia and the U.S. The sapphire is the birthstone for September. See our photo gallery of sapphire jewelry.
Famous precious stones
A rare blue diamond, The Heart of Eternity, is a famous precious stone currently owned by the De Beers Group. Now at 27.64 carats, this heart-shaped wonder was originally crafted from a 777 carat stone.
Another famous blue diamond is The Hope Diamond, previous owned by Evalyn Walsh McLean and known for causing her bad luck.
A well known ruby is the Liberty Bell Ruby, originally discovered in east Africa in the 1950’s. At 8,500 carats, it was valued at two million dollars. This stone had been sculpted into the shape of the Liberty Bell, but was stolen from a jewelry store in Delaware in November of 2011. It is the largest known ruby in the world.
The Patricia Emerald, at 632 carats, is the largest uncut emerald in existence. Named after the mine owner’s daughter, this gemstone was discovered in Columbia in 1920 and can be seen on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
The largest known sapphire, titled the Black Star of Queensland, is black in color and was discovered in Australia in the 1930’s. At 733 carats, it was once on display at the Smithsonian and then at the Royal Ontario Museum. It has since been purchased by an unknown buyer, and is no longer displayed.
How is the value determined for a precious stone?
Value is determined for a precious stone by an experienced professional using only a magnifying tool and a trained eye. To help consumers understand what these professionals are looking for and how they come about each value, the “four Cs” were developed; cut, color, clarity, and carats. Each criteria holds a different meaning for each stone. Other than diamonds, the leading factor when determining a precious stone’s value is color. When analyzing diamonds, the cut is the leading factor.