Precious vs Semi-Precious Stones: Difference and Comparison

If somebody is interested in gemstones, they are likely to be familiar with the terms precious and semi-precious gemstones.

You may find just about any gemstone, including diamonds, if you are in the correct section of the planet. 

None of them is simple to come by, and unless you know what each stone looks like before it undergoes the beauty process, you’d happily discard it. 

These stones are not similar and have been differentiated since the mid-19th century.

Key Takeaways

  1. Precious stones include diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds; semi-precious stones encompass all other gemstones.
  2. Precious stones have higher rarity, value, and durability than semi-precious ones.
  3. Semi-precious stones exhibit a wider range of colors, patterns, and inclusions than precious stones.

Precious Stones vs Semi-Precious Stones

Precious stones are considered the most valuable and rare gemstones, including diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. These gemstones are highly prized for their color, clarity, and brilliance. Semi-precious stones are more commonly found and are less expensive than precious stones.

Precious Stones Vs Semi Precious Stones

Diamonds, sapphires, rubies, pearls, and emeralds are prized stones in the Western world.

However, this is an economic categorisation invented by marketing decades back to provide the misleading impression that precious stones are more expensive than semi-precious stones.

A semi-precious stone, known as a gem or gemstone, is a mineral fragment that is polished and carved into jewellery and other ornamentation in its refined and cut state.

Natural resources or exact rocks that are not minerals are also utilized in jewellery and are called gemstones.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPrecious StonesSemi-Precious Stones
MeaningA high-value, rare and qualitative piece of stone that is used in jewelry is known as a precious stone.A low-value stone that is not qualified as a precious stone is known as a semi-precious stone.
Made up ofDifferent stones are formed with different materials such as carbon atoms are found in diamonds and rubies are formed with aluminum oxide etc. These stones are made up of organic material namely amber, pearl, and coral.
Where Do They Come From?There is no specific geographical area but most of these stones are formed in the Earth’s crust. For example diamond forms in “kimberlite pipes” i.e originating from the earth’s mantle.They come from three possible geographical areas named igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary. 
Chief ProducerSrilanka has been the chief producer of precious stones since 500 B.C.Srilanka is the chief producer in the case of semi-precious stones.
Most Valuable StoneBlue diamond and red diamond.Amethyst

What are Precious Stones?

Precious metals and stones, especially gold and diamonds, have the advantage of having a high intrinsic value in a small package.

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They may be easily “cashed” in almost any part of the world. As a result of their ease of concealment and transportation, they are vulnerable to money laundering. 

Terrorist groups have historically been involved in the gemstone trade. They have a long history of profiting from the trade of diamonds, tanzanite, amethyst, ruby, and sapphire. 

However, current data indicate that gemstones, particularly diamonds, are being used as a means of holding terrorist assets outside of the mainstream financial sector. 

The goal is no longer to make a profit but also to obtain as many stones as possible using criminal revenues that are kept out of banks and corporations.

The precious stone hallucination is another delusion that multitudes of otherwise sensible individuals are plagued by. 

Many people are monomaniacs about this subject to the point that they spend a lot of time cautiously and secretly burrowing into gravel beds

and sand deposits, pouncing on every gleaming bit of quartz-crystal or feldspar that happens to catch their sight.

To conclude, “precious stone” refers to four types of gems: diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. 

Although some people classify opal and pearl as precious stones, they are not widely utilized or well-received. People believe that precious stones are more important and valuable than semi-precious stones.

precious stones

What are Semi-Precious Stones?

A semi-precious stone, known as a gem or gemstone, is a purified and cut section of mineral that can be used to make jewellery or other embellishments. 

A gem is any mineral that has been enhanced in some way by modifying its shape, by cutting and polishing and is used for personal adornment. 

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In Jordan, semi-precious stones occur as xenoliths in a variety of rock types. Finan has high-grade copper, such as malachite and chrysocolla, as well as planchettes appropriate for gemstone manufacturing. 

In the Wadi Araba area, high-purity garnet can be found in metamorphic rocks, whilst xenoliths of pyroxene, olivine, spinel-periodicity, and garnet can be found widely in basalt and pyroclastic materials in northeast Jordan.

The semi-precious gemstones researched are from the Miocene alkali basaltic rocks of the Harrat Al-Sham Basaltic Super Group Plateau in northern Jordan, containing volcanic centres and volcaniclastic elements from the Aritian, Hassan, Ufiyahim, and Bishriyya formations.

These xenoliths and xenocrysts are semi-precious stones in some cases.

All types of gemstones that aren’t classified as important are referred to as semi-precious stones. Amethyst, Citrine, Rhodolite, and Peridot are the stones in question.

Some people argue that using the term “semi-precious” is irresponsible, deceptive, or ambiguous, and therefore should be phased out.

semi precious stones

Main Differences Between Precious And Semi-Precious Stones

  1. On the scale of hardness, precious stones are tough and have a high rating of hardness ranging from 7.5 to 10 while semi-precious stones have a lower rating of hardness below 7.5.
  1. Precious stones are categorized and discerned according to their quality and colors but semi-precious stones are not categorized and discerned by any of the above characteristics.
  1. Only four gems are considered precious namely rubies, sapphires, diamonds, and emeralds whereas all other gems except these four gemstones are considered semi-precious stones.
  1. Precious gemstones hold a much higher quality while semi-precious gemstones stores hold lower quality.
  1. Precious stones come in a few colors whereas semi-precious stones come in a wide range of colors.
Difference Between Precious And Semi Precious Stones

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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12 thoughts on “Precious vs Semi-Precious Stones: Difference and Comparison”

  1. I’m not convinced that this differentiation serves any practical purpose, as the value of a stone is ultimately determined by its demand in the market. However, this article provides an interesting take on the historical and geological aspects of these stones.

  2. This article is great, the information provided is really valuable. It is essential to know the differences between precious and semi-precious stones.

  3. The distinction mentioned between precious and semi-precious stones is indeed a valuable insight. It has shed light on the use of these categories and how they are perceived differently.

  4. The entire discussion on precious and semi-precious stones seems like a dichotomous and arbitrary categorization. The historical and geological information is intriguing, but the economic and social implications raise critical questions about the relevance of this classification.

  5. This article provides an excellent in-depth analysis of precious and semi-precious stones, covering everything from composition to economic issues related to them.

  6. This article provides a comprehensive comparison between precious and semi-precious stones, including detailed geological information for context.

  7. Articles like this perpetuate the outdated terminology of ‘semi-precious’ stones, which could be considered misleading.

  8. I think it’s misleading to keep referring to stones as ‘precious’ or ‘semi-precious’, as it is not necessarily an indication of value.

  9. While the article presents a detailed analysis of precious and semi-precious stones, it does not address the ethical concerns related to their mining and trade, which is a significant factor to consider.


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