Gemstone Guide

Precious vs Semi-Precious Gemstones

Gemstones are minerals, rocks or organic matter from the earth that have been cut and polished. In the 1800s, these gemstones were divided into two categories based on their rarity: precious and semi-precious stones. Throughout the years the rarity of the stones have changed from different discoveries and thus changing the category that they belong in. Today there are only four gemstones currently considered "precious": emerald, ruby, sapphire, and diamond. All other gemstones are considered semi-precious stones. There is no scientific backing to these categories and when purchasing a gemstone, we wouldn’t suggest getting too caught up on if the stone is precious versus semi-precious. Rather, we suggest just discovering which gemstone is precious to you.

Natural vs Lab Created Gemstones

Genuine natural gemstones are minerals found in nature and mined out of the Earth. Like diamonds, natural earth grown gemstones contain impurities and imperfections that can diminish overall appearance and value.

Lab-created synthetic gemstones usually feature the same molecular composition to their naturally occurring mineral counterparts. However, they are grown in a controlled laboratory environment by human hands and machines. They are chemically, physically, and visually identical to gems found in nature. Lab-created gemstones feature the same to better brilliance as a natural earth gemstones; however, the laboratory process leads to fewer impurities and fewer imperfections. Lab-created stones don't have the rarity of natural earth gemstones, which makes them more affordable.

Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness

The Mohs' hardness scale was developed in 1822 by Frederich Mohs. The Mohs Hardness Scale is used as a convenient way to help identify minerals. A mineral's hardness is a measurement of its resistance to scratching, measured by scratching the mineral against another substance. The highest mineral on the scale is a diamond with a hardness of 10. The harder the gemstone, the more wear it can take; the softer the gemstone, the more you'll want to protect it.
9Corundum (Ruby and Sapphire)
8Topaz (Alexandrite)
7Quartz (Citrine, Amethyst, Tourmaline, Garnet, Emerald)
6Feldspar (Moonstone, Tanzanite, Peridot)
5Apatite (Lapis, Turquoise, Opal)
4Fluorite (Rhodochrosite)
3Calcite (Pearl, Coral)
2Gypsum (amber, Ivory)

Each of these minerals can be scratched by the one above it and will scratch the ones below it. Minerals of the same hardness won’t be able to scratch each other. Thus, a ruby can’t scratch a sapphire and vice versa.

Now that you have discovered all about these amazing treasures, lets figure out which one is your birthstone!

Return to Education Center or Shop Our Collection of Incredible Gemstones Now