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Semi Precious

In the 1700’s and 1800’s the phrase ‘precious  gems’ was applied to the three most desirable  gems of the period: Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald. In the early 1900’s Diamond also earned the title ‘precious gemstone’, whilst all other gemstones became  known  as  ‘semi-precious’.  Today  the  term  ‘semi-precious’  is  frowned  upon  within  the industry, as many gemstones such as Paraiba  Tourmaline, Alexandrite, Sphelerite, and several  others,  often  fetch  substantially  higher  prices  per carat than those previously belonging to the  exclusive ‘precious gemstone’ club. 

The International Colored Gemstone Association  (ICA) goes as far as to say, ‘The problem with  semi-precious, and the reason why the jewelry  industry has banned its use, is that it is quite  misleading.  Rubies,  emeralds,  and  sapphires  can sell for less than $100 per carat and a fine  Paraiba  tourmaline,  for  example,  can  sell  for  $20,000 per carat. That seems pretty precious,  doesn’t  it?’  Incidentally  the  French  word  for  gemstones is “pierres précieuse.”

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There's no way you could call Paraiba Tourmaline

a 'semi-precious' gemstone!