Sunday, September 06, 2015

Putting the Term ''Semi-Precious" to Bed. Once and For All!

Have you ever heard someone say that some colored gemstones are just ''semi-precious''? Because of our company's contact with various levels of the industry (retail and clients alike), I hear it all the time; but before I crawl out of my skin in annoyance when I hear this, I remind myself that it is hardly people's fault for thinking this way about stones outside of "the big 4". For instance, the marketing of diamonds (with slogans such as "diamonds are forever") has been so thorough that people are enticed to buy time and time again.

The four 'Cs's of diamond. Photo courtesy of
Furthermore, diamonds are categorized in an almost clinical fashion based on their weight, color, clarity and cut; which leaves very little room for interpretation. By comparison, colored stones have taken on a very mysterious quality (even with jewelers), which is why they are greatly misunderstood by many people today.

Our particular grievance with the term "semi-precious'' is quite simple; By virtue of its name, it has a connotation similar to the ''second-class citizen": one that is common, less valuable, less desired. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. It is for this reason that we've decided to debunk the myth of this commonly-used misnomer. So what do people mean when they are referring to "semi-precious" stones?

A fantastic example of amethyst at its best. Ghirlanda Violet designed by Pasquale Bruni. Photo courtesy of
Many people say that these so-called "semi-precious" stones are less expensive and therefore less desirable. While it is true that some stones fetch a lesser price than other stones (based on factors such as rarity, durability etc), it must be remembered that all gemstones come in a variety of prices, all based on their spectrum of quality. As we saw in a previous article regarding the treatment of rubies, some extremely poor quality ruby have come to market and fetched prices far beyond their actual worth, simply because they are (hardly) ruby. While some stones can be worth as much a 500,000$ a carat, others can fetch as little as 0.99$ a carat. Similarly, there can be very commercial quality amethysts, just as there are also very fine quality amethysts on the market. We'll discuss more thoroughly the factors to pay attention to in a later entry.

Pinnacle-quality Paraiba tourmaline designed by Martin Katz. Photo courtesy of
Even if we wanted to entertain the notion of expensive being necessarily synonymous to precious, allow me to shed light on a few things: chrysoberyl, a name that might otherwise be forgotten because it is not one of the big 4, is actually quite expensive when considering the finest quality alexandrite (a variety of chrysoberyl). Similarly, tourmaline might be considered commonplace by some until one feels the electricity of Paraiba with its fabulous color and equally fabulous price tag.
Clockwise: 1) Cat's eye Chrysoberyl, photo courtesy of; 2) Rubellite pendant, photo courtesy of; 3) Imperial Topaz designed by Katerina Perez, photo courtesy of; 4) Iolite and Diamond gimlet ring, photo courtesy of
There are some people who would have others believe  that certain colored stones are less important or less desirable. We at Bergamot Gems respectfully disagree due to a simple school of thought that we prescribe to wholeheartedly. It is one that appreciates stones simply for what they are. As many colored gemstones enthusiasts and experts will say, colored stones have a very visceral quality that are not easily quantified, but should simply be appreciated and admired because they are. Now, more than ever, we are seeing people embracing gemstones outside of the conventional options offered to them, particularly in the bridal faction of the industry. This resonates rather significantly for us; because frankly, if a "semi-precious" gemstone is what speaks to you or is significant to you in that special life milestone, then it is in our opinion the most precious gemstone of all.

It's a big world out there; even the gem world has vast and stretching horizons. We invite you to discover it!

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