Precious stones are, by definition, gemstones that have a high economic value. Unlike precious metals, however, it is not easy to determine the value of a precious stone by simply its weight. Its value is esthetic rather than intrinsic, and the standards that have been established by professional gemological organizations are based on what most people value in the gemstone. In the eyes of the beholder, any stone that brings a sense of beauty and charm may be deemed precious, even if it has little or no market value.
Some thoughts on semi-precious stones
There are many other gemstones regularly used in jewelry not included in the precious stone category, which were terms invented in the mid-18th century only anyway. Stones that were more abundant and less valuable were classified as semi-precious stones. However, semi-precious stones are not necessarily less rare or valuable than precious stones. One example is Tsavorite, a green garnet. Garnets are generally easily available, but this particular one is very rare and more expensive than an emerald. The terms persist, nevertheless, and most people still put more value to what are considered precious stones.
For the purpose of its economic worth, precious stones refer to four specific minerals or rocks, namely diamond, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. All precious stones are translucent, and in general, the value is based on how rich the color is. The one exception is the diamond, in which a purely colorless stone (“white” stone) is the most valuable. This metric is based on the fact that rich colored gems (on in the case of diamonds one that has no color at all) are scarcer than lighter colored (or colored) stones.
Valuing a precious stone
The only way to appraise a precious stone accurately is with the use of a loupe, a special type of magnifying glass, by a trained professional. All precious stones are assessed based on the four Cs: cut, clarity, color, and carat. All gemstones originate as lumps of rock, and the only way they look like anything as jewels is when they are properly cut and polished. A loupe can show a jeweler the quality of the cut. A properly cut stone will make the most of the reflective property of the stone. It also detects the size and number of inclusions in the stone, which affects the clarity. The weight (carat) and color also affects the price of any gemstone.
A brief description of precious stones
Diamonds are perhaps the most recognized and popular of all the gemstones. They have had a significant impact on society, birthing some of the more memorable quotes such as diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and diamonds are forever. Diamonds could be anyone best friend, actually, because it is among the most valuable of precious stones, so it is great to have around.
Diamonds is made of pure carbon, which is a dark mineral, and takes millions of years to form under intense pressure. It is the hardest natural material on Earth, a 10 in the Mohs hardness scale. , and it can only be cut or scratched by another diamond. Back in the day, pawnshops would test if a diamond is real by using a diamond tester, a diamond-tipped pen they would use to scratch a sample. It is portable, so it is still used by jewelers, but there is an electronic diamond tester that only requires you to simply touch it to a diamond. If it beeps, it’s a diamond.
The word diamond comes from the Greek word “adamus,” which translates to “invincible.” The most common diamonds are colorless, but they also come in yellow, black, green, gray, blue, brown, purple, red, and pink.
Not all diamonds are good enough to be used in jewelry, however. Most diamonds are industrial quality, which means they are too flawed and not pretty enough to be cut and polished for jewelry. The few that do make the grade are then cut and polished carefully, ranging from one point to several carats in weight. The largest gem-quality diamond ever mined to date was the Cullinan, a diamond weighing 1.33 pounds (3,106 carats) found in the Premier Diamond Fields in South Africa in 1905. It was named after the mine’s founder Thomas Cullinan. The stone was cut into several gems, the largest of which is Great Star of Africa, weighing 106.06 grams (530.4 carats).
Most people associate emeralds with brilliant green gemstones, but they also come in variations with yellow and blue undertones. The thing with emerald is it loses it color when it is exposed to high heat. It is also quite brittle, so that makes it hard to cut. Early Egyptians and Indians as well as the Aztecs and Incas all revered emeralds , and the first of them were mined as far back as 2,000 B.C. The Moguls of India used emeralds in their sacred text to keep evil away. Emeralds are mostly found in Zambia, Columbia, and Brazil today, but they used to be found in Australia, Austria, Norway, and Russia. One of the largest emeralds ever found was the Bahia emerald, named for its place of origin in Bahia, Brazil. It weighed about 840 pounds (180,000 carats). It was stolen in 2008.
The best rubies are a deep red, but the color lightens up to pink. The name itself comes from the Latin word “ruber,” meaning red. Many people believe that rubies bring good luck, and the ancient Hindus used it to protect themselves from evil. The ancient Chinese prized it so much they placed rubies on their armor when they go into battle. Because of its color, it has come to mean love and passion in modern times. Most come from Southeast Asia and Africa, with the largest ruby ever mined coming in at four pounds (8,500 carats). It was cut to resemble the Liberty Bell and was thus called the Liberty Bell Ruby. It was stolen in 2011, and four men were arrested and indicted for the theft in 2014. The ruby itself, which was surrounded by fifty diamonds, has yet to be found.
Sapphire blue is the most sought-after color for this stone, but it can also comes in yellow, white, or pink, which are called “fancy sapphires.” The color naturally lends itself to feelings of serenity and peace, and in ancient times was used to represent wisdom, loyalty, faith, and purity. Sapphires are mostly found in Asia and Africa, but may also be found in the US and Australia. The largest blue sapphire found to date is the one found in 1907 in Adams Peak, Sri Lanka, which has since been cut and polished into what is known now as the Blue Giant of the Orient. It weighs 466 carats.
Precious stones are coveted the world over, and many of the most famous ones excite a lot of attention, welcome or otherwise. It is beautiful to look at, and a great investment.