A Guide to Precious and Semi-Precious Gemstones

March 06, 2024 2 min read

A Guide to Precious and Semi-Precious Gemstones

Precious and Semi-Precious stones are both classifications of gemstones. In the 1800s, the gemstones were divided into two categories: precious and semi-precious, considering their value differentiation at the time. Today, the value parameter is not the only criteria on which a stone is evaluated. The quality, rarity and provenance are all taken into consideration. 

Precious Gemstones

The four gemstones that prevail as Precious are: 

  • Diamond 
  • Ruby
  • Emerald
  • Sapphire 

These four stones have generally been the most expensive and sought after, and are distinguished by their quality, their rarity, and the beauty of their colours. 

Semi-Precious Gemstones 

Every other gemstone that is not one of these four is considered to be semi-precious. Some of the most common semi-precious stones are: 

  • Alexandrite 
  • Agate
  • Amethyst 
  • Aquamarine 
  • Opal
  • Pearl 
  • Peridot
  • Rose Quartz
  • Tanzanite
  • Tourmaline
  • Turquoise 

The separation between precious and semi-precious gemstones has no specific scientific backing. As mentioned, when the categorization came about, it was mainly due to the value, rarity and demand at that time. In some circumstances, however, some semi-precious gemstones can be worth much more than a precious stone. For example, you may sometimes hear that a pearl is seen by some as a precious gemstone. This is because many natural pearls garner huge prices, and may be worth more than a low quality precious stone. Additionally, many semi precious stones can be more rare than the four precious stones. They may be harder to find, or more difficult or expensive to mine, and may even be produced in much lower quantities. 


Precious and Semi-Precious gemstones are often used in birthstone jewellery pieces. A birthstone is a gem that marks your month of birth. Each one has a unique meaning and roots back to ancient myths and beliefs. Birthstone jewellery is often bought as presents and gifts, as it is meaningful as well as beautiful.

Here at Manna Jewellers, all gemstones are precious to us in the sense that they provide meaning, value and beauty to your jewellery. So when purchasing a piece of jewellery, we wouldn't suggest getting too caught up on whether the stone is considered precious or semi precious. Instead, choose the gemstone that stands out and is special to you!