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Changing the term "semi-precious" stones


#1

This evening, I once again saw a reference to “semi-precious” stones.
Way long ago, I was taking the GIA Colored Stone Home Study Course,
and within there, was the attempt to reeducate all to no longer use
the term semi-precious. This has stayed with me, and I do know others
also prefer to use the term, Colored Stones.

We are an International Group of Jewelry related persons, and should
have some influence, starting with ourselves. How about it, anyone
up to the challenge?

Suggestions, When we see it in a publication, contact them, yes en-
masse is better and ask them to reconsider their terminology. We can
do the same for Advertisers and Companies.

Some old habits, are persistent, but with concerted efforts, we
should make some headway.

We all know that many Colored Stones, are by far, more rare, more
expensive, and beautiful, than those termed “Precious.”

Hugs,
Terrie


#2
attempt to reeducate all to no longer use the term semi-precious.
This has stayed with me, and I do know others also prefer to use
the term, Colored Stones... How about it, anyone up to the
challenge 

Terrie, I agree with you! The term semi-precious has always sounded
wrong to me. It seems like it is saying, Hey! My stones aren’t that
great! I also had a GIA educated teacher in school who taught us not
to use the term semi-precious, but to use the term colored stones
instead. Unless you really are using bottom of the barrel, junky,
nasty stones, I think the term colored stones sounds more
appropriate, more respectful of the product.

Alexis Romeo
Rochester, NY
www.alexisromeo.com


#3
The term semi-precious has always sounded wrong to me. It seems
like it is saying, Hey! My stones aren't that great! I also had a
GIA educated teacher in school who taught us not to use the term
semi-precious, but to use the term colored stones instead. 

GIA inspired movement of getting rid of term semi-precious has
nothing to do with reality. It is a marketing gimmick calculated
that it is easier to sell gemstones if their not so precious nature
is de-emphasized. Gemstone nomenclature if far more complex than just
precious and semi-precious, but substituting semi-precious for
colour is even worse and more confusing. Substituting one shortcut
for another is a waste of time and effort. Might as well leave it the
way it is. Actually term “semi-precious” is more based in reality and
term “colored”. “Semi-precious” is guilty of over-simplification,
but “colored” is simply wrong.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#4
We all know that many Colored Stones, are by far, more rare, more
expensive, and beautiful, than those termed "Precious." 

I understand that there is, and has been, a political movement to
banish the term semi-precious from gemology, and I also understand
why, and I also don’t use the term, but not for those reasons. For
myself, I think the term has it’s place, and always has. I’m not
going to argue with anyone about it - I don’t care a lot one way or
the other. But I don’t know of any stones that are "by far, more
rare, more expensive, and beautiful, than those termed “Precious.”,
either. I can see a value in having some term, whatever that might
be, to distinguish in a general way between the heights of the beryl
family and even the very best of anything quartz, which is what
precious/semiprecious is about, at it’s best. Again, I don’t use the
term, and I do see the potential for abusing it, but I’m not going to
jump on the “stamp out semiprecious” bandwagon, either. I have no
problem with some casual description of what I would put as “the
generally under $1,000 and often much less” gem market - it could be
some other word, but what would that be? Just me…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#5

Leonid and Terri…

You both make good points…

What I do is ignore both terms…

Now…Leonid…You be nice……!

I talk about the particular stone…

I’m a fan of garnets, and phenomenals…

None of which, except for star sapphire (and ruby), are a member of
the big four…

If anyone tells me decent fire agate is not precious…I’ll laugh at
them…

Catseye chrysoberyl…the same…

And yeah…I know you don’t hafta declare the chrysoberyl, but
there’s so many catseyes now…

Double whammy star garnet…

Mundane stuff like rainbow moonie (I think it’s really a
labradorite)…

I show my “Wizard’s Ring” that lights up…and explain that yeah,
that’s a real stone…

My point being…I’m not gonna fight the customer, as to what’s
ingrained…

Just show them what they’ve been missing…

Gary W. Bourbonais
L’Hermite Aromatique
A.J.P. (GIA)


#6
Actually term "semi-precious" is more based in reality and term
"colored". "Semi-precious" is guilty of over-simplification, but
"colored" is simply wrong. 

Neither terminology has much real meaning. The definition of
"precious" is variable. An interesting article by Richard Wise:

"Precious Gems: The History of a Concept"

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ


#7
.... the attempt to reeducate all to no longer use the term
semi-precious.... I do know others who... prefer to use the term,
Colored Stones. 

Terrie, I can only say that, to me, the term, “colored stones,” has
nuances of something that has been dyed or painted or is perhaps a
plastic imitation of stones. What is the nature of any contrast
between “colored” and “uncolored” stones? I guess I’m saying,
“semi-precious” is not a perfect term, but I like it more than
"colored stones."

All the best,
Judy Bjorkman


#8
GIA inspired movement of getting rid of term semi-precious has
nothing to do with reality.... It is a marketing gimmick calculated
that it is easier to sell gemstones if their not so precious
nature is de-emphasized... ...Might as well leave it the way it
is.... Actually term "semi-precious" is more based in reality and
term "colored". "Semi-precious" is guilty of over-simplification,
but "colored" is simply wrong. 

Moving away from the term semi precious does have an impact when
customers feel the words have a negative connotation, for whatever
reason. I’m sure anyone selling goods would agree the customer’s
opinion is pretty important.

As Terrie already pointed out, there are in fact some colored gems
more precious (rare, beautiful, etc.) than some so called precious
stones. That alone is enough for me to not want to use the phrase
semi precious gems for any and all colored stones. As I’ve already
said, unless someone really is using cheapo (you know what I mean)
stones, I think the term colored stones is more appropriate to
describe the fine, high quality gems that I know many of us are
selecting for our work.


#9

I’ve weighed in on this before and probably a lot of you know it is a
pet peeve of mine (along with spelling). Besides the fact that I can
show you a $20 ruby (precious?) and a $20,000 tourmaline ("semi"
precious?), the real issue is using a negative term when you’re
selling something. I don’t call inclusions in diamonds flaws. Why
should I call a stone “semi” precious? It’s hard enough selling our
product properly without adding in a bunch of negative terms that do
nothing to instill confidence in the purchaser. When I go buy a car,
I don’t want a “semi” car (maybe that would be a bike), when I go
buy a DVD player, I don’t want a “semi” DVD player (which I assume
would mean a VCR), and when I go out and buy something that I don’t
want to spend as much money on I don’t want to buy a “cheap” thing, I
want an “inexpensive” thing. No one has ever sold me anything by
telling me how “cheap” it is (or even how much “cheaper” it is then
the other product).

You may all think it’s just semantics but there is a lot of power in
words and how they are used. For those of us who actually have to
make a living in this business, all negative terms should simply be
thrown in the wastebasket and forgotten about. For those of you who
don’t like the term “colored” stones (I really don’t get this, but
ok) you can simply use the term "which is a perfectly
acceptable, non negative, word to use in describing all of the gem
products we work with. For those of you not actually making a living
in the business, you can do whatever you want for all I care, but be
careful about giving advice on something that might not effect you
the way it would effect someone on the street.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
www.spirerjewelers.com


#10

There are two kinds of nomenclature, ours, and the public’s. I gave
up a long time ago trying to correct the public. Not worth the
effort. Sometimes they look at you funny as if you’re trying to be
evasive.

When asked if something is semi-precious I say its a genuine stone,
its mined, and don’t you just love the color? Get the conversation
back to their desire for the stone… i.e. the sale.


#11
to me, the term, "colored stones," has nuances of something that
has been dyed or painted or is perhaps a plastic imitation of
stones. 

I just say "and leave it at that.

Noel


#12
Moving away from the term semi precious does have an impact when
customers feel the words have a negative connotation, for whatever
reason. I'm sure anyone selling goods would agree the customer's
opinion is pretty important. 

Precious, semi-precious is a mineralogical lingo to indicate
relative rarity of a mineral. A sapphire in its ugliest form is still
a precious mineral. When jewellery is concern, the term I use is gem.
Not even a gemstone but a gem. Definition of a gem is something
possessing rarity, beauty, and durability and it can be anything.
That
is how we can solve semi-precious vs colored dilemma.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#13
But I don't know of any stones that are "by far, more rare, more
expensive, and beautiful, than those termed "Precious.", either. 

Perhaps the poster was referring to such gems as Tanzanite and
Paraiba Tourmaline?

Helen
UK


#14

I couldn’t agree more. There are many colored gemstones that are far
more rare and valuable than the so called “precious” The
term “semi-precious” only tends to devalue many rare and beautiful
gemstones in peoples minds.

Linda McMurray G.G., A.J.P. (GIA)
Best Cut Gems
www.bestcutgems.com


#15

Why not just say GEMSTONE? Why even bother with “precious” at all?
Make it wrong to call glass and plastic maybe even the
synthetics too.

“Colored” might only be wrong for colorless stones, but do these
stones care?

TL Goodwin
The Pacifik Image


#16
I think the term colored stones is more appropriate to describe the
fine, high quality gems that I know many of us are selecting for
our work.

So perhaps a $5 emerald is semi-precious and a $2000 emerald is
precious? The definition of semi seems to be half or partial, so here
we go again with some defending of a term that seems nonsensical.
Like semi-pregnant.

Sometimes it seems that some people like to have issues with G.I.A.
G.I.A’s objective is to identify and qualify This
is then used to produce a reference point for the
marketplace to give a monetary value to a gemstone. And what is the
purpose of defining a gem as precious or semi-precious? It does not
actually convey that is useful. It is just a subjective
opinion. Something precious to you might be less precious to me. I
think rather than precious or semi-precious, having categories of
commercial quality or gem quality might have meaning. I can tell a
gem dealer those terms and they know what I mean.

No one in the gem industry over the last 30 years I have been
involved has used the term. Only occasional customers. I know it is
unfair, but you come into my store an use the term semi-precious and
I will think you are semi-literate. So if you are talking to a
Gemologist, leave semi-precious at home. Now I am off to the hardware
store to get a nail banger.

Richard Hart G.G.
Jewelers Gallery
Denver, Co.


#17
"colored stones," has nuances of something that has been dyed or
painted or is perhaps a plastic imitation of stones. 

No it does not.

G.I.A. has a diamond course and a colored stone course. Perhaps some
of you might not only support us (Gemologists) but be gracious enough
to allow those of us that have chosen G.I.A. courses as a source of
education, and possibly with your blessing, help us however deluded
we (Gemologists) are to try to educate the public to some standard
that can be agreed upon. (Gemologists agree!?) As G.I.A. seems to be
the preeminent organization, and I believe G.I.A. works in the best
interest for the betterment of the jewelry and gem trade, until
something better comes along, at least pretend that you understand
and agree with us. Or just make up your own concepts, ideas, and
terms and wack away at it. Sounds like fun. []

Richard Hart G.G.
Jewelers Gallery
Denver, Co.


#18

Leonid,

Gem is fine with me.

Hugs,
Terrie


#19
Now I am off to the hardware store to get a nail banger. 

In our studio it is referred to as a persuader. As in, “that nail
just needs a little persuading.”

I totally agree with you and Daniel Spirer in your comments in this
thread.

Nel
Totally enjoying Portland and the wicked awesome Kate Wolf!!!


#20
And what is the purpose of defining a gem as precious or
semi-precious? It does not actually convey that is
useful. It is just a subjective opinion. 

The term simply indicates probability of encountering a minerals
randomly going through the rock. In another words, if we select
location at random and start drilling a shaft, the chances of
encountering let’s say garnet is much higher than ruby. Or one can
think in terms that it takes more labour to extract ruby than
garnet. It has, or should nave no meaning in the market place. In the
market, gems evaluated on their own. Term precious gem is redundant
at best. Term semi- precious gem is an oxymoron. Chrysoberyl can be
called semi-precious in mineralogical terms, but when we find a stone
with strong color change from sea-green to raspberry-red, it called
Alexandrite and such semi-precious stone far exceed even most of the
diamonds in rarity, and therefore in value. In some perverted way, a
semi-precious gem is far more valuable and rare than precious gem.
Think what would one pay for 100 carat almandine garnet of intense
color and complete transparency. Such gem would command thousands
per carat, but as mineralogical specimen, it would be correct to
refer to is as semi-precious.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com