Classifing diamonds apart fom other gemstones


I saw described a designation being made between diamonds [ essentially making them a distinct unique class of mineral in language / vs all other gemstones.] When discussing diamonds, the language in the discussion about diamonds always called them diamond but not gemstones. Rather an implication “soft” comparison was implied between gemstones and diamonds. If a diamond was under consideration the world diamond was always used. Discussion of gemstones never included language using the word diamond.

Well I hope this is at least somewhat clear. And if so how common or on the other end of the spectrum, how particular is such a parsing of this sort.

Thank you,


I’m totally lost. Maybe someone else will be able to help.

Are you a member of IGS by chance?

The thread also asks?

Similarly, I have seen lexicon that makes a demarcation between a Lapidary and a Diamond cutter. So then, could a Lapidary person / group / company be a gemstone cutter / polisher that includes diamonds or is the use of the nomenclature “diamond cutter” indicate a person / group /company that only work with diamonds and likewise, a Lapidary cuts / polishes gemstones other than diamonds or are diamonds a gemstone a Lapidary does or could work with?

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Until just a few decades ago gems were divided into two categories: precious gems and semi-precious gems. The precious gems were diamond, ruby, sapphire, and emerald. All other jewelry stones were classed as semi-precious. Pearls, being rare, were considered precious gems until the development of pearl culturing.
The recent, wild increase in the price of diamond, ruby, sapphire, and emerald, driven by increasing wealth inequality, has made high quality examples of these stones all but unaffordable by the middle and working class. The obvious choice for the manufacturer of mid-range jewelry was to use more semi-precious stones. But “semi-precious” makes the jewelry seem more like costume than fine, so that term was dropped from all marketing and advertising and the term “gemstone” began to be used for those gems previously called semi-precious.
Discussion of diamonds today will eschew the word gemstone so as to distinguish diamond from all other gems, especially from the former semi-precious gems.


Interesting ! Thank you

And wonder oh wonder, where will lab diamonds [or as someone astutely called: factory diamonds] fit?

I am sure that I’ve seen your posts on IGS. Some semiprecious stones are now precious in terms of cost and value…quartz stones and low quality tourmaline are abundant and remain cheap… higher quality semiprecious still is within reach of the middle class. Good rubies, emeralds, sapphires and large natural diamonds have shot up in price and are only affordable by the wealthy. Diamonds have it’s own category. DeBeers created the market by making the “diamonds are forever” marketing campaign tying diamonds to engagement and wedding rings. Once the American market was saturated, they launched a campaign in Japan where they succeeded in creating another market in a wealthy country, where jade and pearls were more prized than diamonds. Now there is Chinese demand, but it’s slackened due to a slow economy…

Enter synthetics to the rescue!.. as long as a synthetic is labled as such it’s legal. anyother lable is potentially fraud or outright fraud depending on the lable. Synthetics have allowed the middle class to afford “genuine diamond” as a cheaper alternative to natural. Same goes for other precious stones. All synthetics have characteristic inclusions by which an experienced jeweler can distinguish natural from synthetic. Synthetics all can ge grown using different methods… these also have characteristic inclusions unique to the method by which they were grown.
“lab grown” diamonds have plummeted in price. They are “real” diamonds in that they have the same crystal structure and chemistry as natural. They afford a much cheaper alternative to natural.

The natural diamond market is controlled by large producers. DeBeers and Australian producers have banded together to control supply. Russian diamonds are shunted through second countries to by pass the Western sanctions for the Ukraine war. Putin is selling diamonds, and more importantly oil, thru second non alligned countries to maintain his power and finance the war. I have avoided buying diamonds in the past due to the confusion and manipulation in the diamond market. The Chinese were particularly active in fraud by selling synthetic press created diamonds as real, going so far as to even laser brand the diamonds with “deBeers” on the girdle. West African “conflict” natural diamonds, Brazilian diamonds were also thrown into the mix. I don’t know what the current diamond market is like, but synthetics in general are 50 to 67% cost of natural. Maybe even cheaper now. If anyone buys a high dollar natural, it should come with papers. GIA certified or other internationally recognized certifier of precious stones. Keeping the certificates is just as important as keeping the stones themselves. Brick and mortar stores cost more but are far more reliable than online, where fraud is still possible. Forged certificates are a growing problem. Brick and mortar stores have to avoid fraud completely otherwise they can be put out of business, or sued.

The complexity and wide range of pricing for all stones now is a wild and wooly place. A few people have been able to successfully navigate the complexity but they are quite expert at it… Roy John is one of THE experts on this website…

All of the above is a gross oversimplification of the diamond and gemstone market. I still can’t understand it myself. The more I study it, the more complex and confusing it becomes.

My interest in gemstones is more geological and geochemical than marketing and value. Diamond’s may be a “girl’s best friend” but diamonds are a geologist’s best friend also. Diamonds originate in the continental asthenosphere, at depths of 150 km or greater below the surface. “ultra deep” diamonds from Botwana and Brazil originate at depths of 400km… these ultra deeps provide a window into deep earth processes and the recycling of carbon throughout billions of years. Inclusions in them contain high temperature high pressure mineral phases that have been locked in at depth… An included blue diamond made the headlines last year. It contained a mineral phase that had only been theoretical and synthetic. The mineral was a calcium silicate analogue of olivine, with calcium replacing magnesium. It’s structure is cubic, like diamond due to the high pressure and cubic closest packing arrangement of atoms…The mineral was named “davemaoite or davemaokite” in honor of Dave Mao who was a pioneering Chinese American high pressure physicist at the Carnegie Institute. Bridgemanite is the magnesian analogue of olivine under very high pressure. Olivine gets crushed into a pervoskite structure. This mineral was found in a shocked meteorite from Australia. It comprizes 90% of deep earth mantle down to the core. Davemaoite cannot exist at the surface… it breaks down into normal calcium silicate structure. Pressures are over 36 million psi. to 20 billion psi at the core mantle boundary.

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see my reply below. Synthetic stones have made it possible for the less wealthy to own gemstones. So long as they are labled as synthetic or lab grown they are legal, anything else is fraud. Diamonds and all of the other so called “precious” stones are lab grown by different techniques that leave characteristic inclusions, distinguishable from different techniques and natural by experienced gemologists and jewelers.
Semi precious is everything else. Some of them cost as much as precious, when natural deposits were exhausted. That goes for Paraiba tourmaline. “paraiba type” tourmaline is now sourced from West Africa. It has the same chemical composition and properties as Paraiba. Hot deep pink/red Pala Tourmaline if real Pala also is very expensive, as deposits have been mined out long ago. Cultured pearls are very expensive also, especially graded pearl necklaces from Mikmoto and South Sea pearls larger than 9mm…Other semiprecious, including quartz stones haven’t increased much in price due to abundance. The Russians first made synthetic quartz for radiofrequency applications… now everyone does. Colored quartz stones for gem sales are also made in every color of the rainbow. Same goes for cubic zircornia which is dirt cheap.
Natural good quality “precious” is in the 10K plus range per ct. Fancy natural canary yellow diamonds, same or more. However, price distinctions are difficult to go by on price alone. Some semiprecious stones are very expensive and out of range for everyone except the wealthy. I never bought gems as an investment. Since the 1990’s semiprecious has kept up with inflation, increasing on the average, ten fold. If sold at retail now, I would lose 40%. Getting rid of my unset stones is a real problem. I also have a hoard of rough sterling ingots, some fire refined by oxygen injection to “spitting siliver” which is near fine. These are going to the refiner… I might keep half of it in return investment grade silver bullion, at the cost of 40% but the rest would go into cash which can be reinvested in liquid assets. My problem now that I am retired is to maintain an income stream to live off of. Precious metals and gemstones gather no interest.