The terms “precious and “semi-precious” came into origin in the 19 that large deposits of Amethyst were found in Brazil. This discovery correlates to the introduction of these categories as Amethyst, formerly thought of as a valuable stone, was no longer describes as such due to its newly discovered abundance. Historically the term semi-precious stones were reserved for all gemstones that did not include diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and rubies. These four precious gemstones were traditionally thought to command a higher market value due to their rarity, beauty, and popularity. Today, however, these terms are thought to be inappropriate and misleading because of what they suggest to customers.
The term semi-precious implies that stones placed in this category are more common than precious stones, worth less, and lack the appeal of precious stones. In reality, many semi-precious stones have prices comparable to or above that of precious stones, are rarer than precious stones, and are just as beautiful as precious stones. For example, semi-precious stones such as Alexandrites, Demantoid Garnets, Tsavorite Garnets, and Tanzanites can have market prices equal to or higher than Rubies, Emeralds, and Sapphires.
Diamonds, while being the most valuable of all gemstones, are by no means a rare gemstone. In fact, diamonds are extremely abundant throughout the world, but their supply is heavily regulated by diamonds cartels such as De Beers. A “semi-precious” stone, such as an Alexandrite, is a rarer gemstone than a diamond as the mines in which this stone is found are continuing to dwindle. Many “semi-precious” stones also have exquisite color and brilliance, which makes their beauty similar to that of precious stones. For instance, the deep blue and purple hues along with the vibrant color saturation of Tanzanite are thought by many to be more attractive than Sapphires with similar tone. The term “precious stones” was used out of tradition for what were thought to be more valuable and rare stones, but since many semi-precious stones are rarer and more valuable than precious stones these categories should not be used to describe gemstones, as they are deceptive and confusing.