Besides diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, all gemstones fall under the semi-precious category. In spite of what the name may suggest, semi-precious gemstones can be as valuable, or even more valuable than precious gemstones, depending on many different factors. Semi-precious gemstones are not as rare as precious gemstones, but certain desirable properties can drive the price of semi-precious gemstones skyward. This handy guide should help you to better understand the fascinating, shimmering world of semi-precious gemstones.
Examples of Semi-Precious Stones
There are hundreds of semi-precious gemstones available on the market today, and some of them aren’t actually made out of stone! For example, pearl, amber, and coral are all naturally occurring substances that are still grouped under the ‘semi-precious’ umbrella term. Some of the most popular semi-precious gemstones include amethyst, turquoise, citrine, garnet, peridot, topaz, iolite, ametrine, and calcite (pictured). People often wear these striking stones in jewelry, but they can also be collected on their own just for the sake of enjoyment. Some people even believe that they have healing properties.
An Overview of a Few Popular Semi-Precious Gemstones
Turquoise: This volcanic stone ranges in color from light blue to a dark blue-green. It is commonly used to make Native American jewelry, and it is usually set in silver. According to Southwest Silver Gallery (a company that regularly deals with this semi-precious stone), fake turquoise is a big problem in today’s market, so make sure you trust your source.
Peridot: Another volcanic rock, peridot is only green, unlike many other semi-precious stones that contain multiple colors, although the iron content can change it from a yellow-green to an olive or brown-green color. It is commonly set in gold.
Citrine: Often mistaken for yellow topaz, citrine tends to have a very bright and clear hue that can range from a mild yellow to a deep gold. Citrine can be successfully set in both silver and gold.
Amethyst (pictured): Amethyst is a type of quartz that boasts a regal purple hue ranging from a mild purple to a robust plum. It is commonly used in gold jewelry for a majestic look fit for royalty.
Topaz: Topaz is a clear stone that comes in many different hues, with natural blue being the rarest and most desirable. Other colors include yellow, yellow-brown, red, pink, green, and brown. This versatile stone can be set successfully in gold, silver, platinum, palladium, and virtually any other precious metal.
The value of a semi-precious gemstone comes from its grade, and the grade is based primarily on the stone’s color. Experts analyze semi-precious gemstones and grade them according to the saturation, hue, tint, color grade, and color tone. Stones with a high saturation and low tint tend to be most valuable.
The value of certain gemstone hues can fluctuate according to buyer and jeweler trends. The color grade is based on the purity of the color, and the tone describes the lightness or darkness of the stone based on the amount of white or black mixed with the color.
Other Factors that Affect a Stone’s Value
Some semi-precious gemstones may have inconsistent color coverage, lowering the stone’s value. This is called zoning. Faint zoning is when the saturation differs insignificantly throughout the stone. Gradual zoning is when the color is weakened by blending, and visible zoning is when the stone has noticeable patches or layers. Foreign materials in the stone affect its clarity, and the brilliance is measured by how much light the stone reflects when it’s in a still position. An expert will also divide the stone’s height by its minimum width to determine its depth, with 60-80 percent depth being the standard ideal range.
Carolyn Clarke is a freelance writer and lover of all things related to gemstones. She currently resides in Spruce Pine, NC, where she enjoys prospecting for aquamarines, moonstones, and rubies in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains. She also writes for a range of respected stone and jewelry providers like Estate Diamond Jewelry and Trumpet & Horn.