Gemstone vs other Stone

I’ve been reading with interest the debate about gemstones and what
“qualifies” as one, which leads me to ask a rather odd question.

I’m considering a couple of items for entry into the AGTA Spectrum
awards and the Stones/S competition, in the category of jewelry
design. But I’m not sure what “they” consider legitimate
For example, if I have a design that uses a unique piece of
Morrisonite (I believe it’s categorized as a type of jasper), would
they consider that a gemstone? What about Norwegian Moonstone? Other
types of jaspers and agates? Quartz?

Not to start a debate here (or to re-start a debate), but is there
any type of “official” classification that would tell me what kind of
rocks are likely to be viewed as “gemstony” enough for competitions
like this?

Many thanks!
Karen Goeller
Handcrafted and Unique Artisan Jewelry

Hi Karen,

I'm considering a couple of items for entry into the AGTA Spectrum
awards and the Stones/S competition, in the category of jewelry

The Stones/S prospectus clearly states, “‘Stones/S: a piece of rock
for a specific function.’ This theme should elicit a variety of work
incorporating metal techniques along with stones as varied as
precious gems through beach pebbles.” That’s pretty clear!

As for the Spectrum awards, the same is true in principle but in
practice, it’s more often pieces with transparent, faceted gemstones
that win; not always, but usually. Nevertheless, there have been
winners with carved onyx and agate, pearls, and I also remember one
which featured ammolite.

I entered once, and when you get your entry back, they enclose the
criteria and point totals of the judges scores (at least they did so
a few years back). I’m doing this from memory so don’t quote me :slight_smile:
– I got maximum points in the technique category, strong points in
the design category and low points in the category described as
something like ‘ability to promote colored stones to the general
public.’ Again, that’s a rough paraphrase but the idea, as I
understood it, was that if your piece didn’t qualify as reasonably
mass appeal or at least as something that the guy/gal on the street
might covet or see themselves wearing, then you are at a real
disadvantage. (My entry, which used slate, boulder opal, sunstone
and strawberry quartz in an asymmetrical, eccentric design was far
from mass appeal!) Remember, the AGTA exists, in large part, to
promote colored

The most important thing you can do is read and re-read the
prospectus. For instance, AGTA disallows synthetic gemstones but if
I remember correctly, treated gemstones are acceptable as long as you
disclose all treatments. (I could be wrong about this but it makes
my point that you MUST read the prospectus thoroughly.)

Good luck if you decide to enter!


I believe the AGTA accepts any type of gem material for their
contest. Certainly jaspers, moonstones, agates and quartz all are
allowable. I don’t think there will be any restrictions on this,
although they change the rules a little bit every year. You should
get a copy of the application to look at. You might also want to
look at what has won in the last 5 years.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140

End of forwarded message