Friday, April 17, 2009

Gemstones and New Thoughts on Classification

For the last few hundred years, gemologists have classified gemstones as either precious or semi-precious, but like so many other areas of debate, they didn't always agree as to what gemstones fell into what category. Classification had much more to do with ceremonial or historical significance of gems than their actual appearance.

Traditionally, Diamonds, Rubies, Emeralds, Sapphires, Opals, and Pearls have been considered precious or cardinal gemstones. (Technically, pearl is not a gemstone, but it has been classified as precious.) Up until the discovery of a major deposit of Amethyst in the 19th century, this stone also was considered precious. And over the last century or so, a wider variety of stones such as aquamarine, peridot and cat's eye have been much more popular leading them to also be regarded as precious.

Historically, semi-precious gemstones were of a wide variety including, but not limited to Garnet, Topaz, Jade, Onyx, Turquoise, Carnelian, Tiger's Eye and Agate.

There has been a recent trend among gemologists and gemological associations to discontinue the use of this divisive method of classifying stones. The new way of thinking takes into account that scarcity, price, and popularity have much more of an impact on how "precious" a stone is, and that the use of such designations can be misleading, and inappropriate - not to mention downright inaccurate.

I look at it this way - a beautiful piece of well cut Citrine with minimal inclusions can indeed be more beautiful than a yellow diamond full of inclusions, but of the same size and cut. Which should really be considered precious?

With today's ever evolving techniques for stone cutting, enhancement, and creative jewelry design, the worth or prestige of a stone should never be limited by an archaic labeling system. Gemstones should be judged on their individual attributes and the sense of beauty they lend to the wearer.

That being said, I hope you take the time to visit the shops of some of the wonderful Etsian's whose gemstones I've featured with this article - as well as my Etsy shop!

1 comment:

Baroness Bijoutery said...

Your post was most interesting..thank you..I love working with all these beautiful stones..

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