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Using the term semi precious gems


#1

Was: Drilling semi precious materials

I’ve brought this up before and I’m sure you’re tired of hearing it,
and the problem may be that the moderator decided on the subject
line, but the words keep cropping up and I really thing you all need
to stop using them. There is no such thing as a "semi precious"
stone. There are Period. They can be inexpensive gem
materials or expensive gem materials or in between priced gem
materials. But there is no such thing as a semi precious gem
material anymore. I can show you all $5 rubies (is that a "precious"
gem???) and a $10,000 tourmaline (is that a “semi” precious gem???).
Besides the fact that it simply isn’t a good name for stones anymore,
do you really want to sound so negative when selling your gem
materials as to say these are “semi” precious stones.

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


#2
But there is no such thing as a semi precious gem material anymore.
I can show you all $5 rubies (is that a "precious" gem???) and a
$10,000 tourmaline (is that a "semi" precious gem???). 

While I am not disagreeing which the general content of the post, I
believe that it is a mistake to judge preciousness of the gemstone
based on the market price.

In scientific circles gemstones are divided in several groups. It has
been a while since I read that paper, but going from my memory, it is
seven or eight.

The membership os the group is determined based on the gem
composition and the rarity of the elements, integral to gem
appearance and/or formation, in the earth crust.

For example lets take pigeon blood ruby. In order to be called that
it must be pure aluminum oxide with a bit of chromium (very rare
element in the earth crust ).

The chances of encountering such specimen a less than winning a
lottery 3 times in a row. As a consequence price very, very high but
not high enough to reflect the true rareness of such a specimen. A
billion dollars a carat would not be out of the realm of value.

If during the formation of the ruby some iron is present( which is
likely to happen ), then instead of pigeon blood ruby we have just a
regular one. In case of a lot of iron, it ill be $5 rubies that a so
common in the market. And if we add some silicon to the mix ; now we
have almandine garnet which is very very common.

It is simply makes sense to differentiate ruby from garnet simply
because it is much more likely that garnet would form than a ruby
due to the omnipresence of silicon in the earth crust. Are there are
market conditions where almandine garnet can be more expensive than
ruby? Absolutely, but it has nothing to do with preciousness of the
ruby, and relative commonality of the almandine garnet.

Diamond is another very good example of it. Diamond, as a general
statement, the most expensive gem on the market. However, carbon is
the most commonest element in the earth crust, and geological
formation of the diamond simply must be a very likely event. Does the
market price reflect it ? Absolutely not. Via creative marketing
technique it is sold as something very precious.

Leonid Surpin.


#3
I've brought this up before and I'm sure you're tired of
hearing it, and the problem may be that the moderator decided on
the subject line, but the words keep cropping up and I really thing
you all need to stop using them. There is no such thing as a "semi
precious" stone. There are Period. 

100% agreement, and there are no diamond “chips”. Potato chips, corn
chips, rough diamonds or faceted.

Richard Hart


#4

Daniel,

That’s a very good point and it’s something I’ve never thought about
until you said that. I love all gems and so I like the fact that such
thinking elevates those gems that were previously thought of as lower
in the gem hierarchy, to a level equal to those previously thought of
as precious. Also, if only gemstones such as diamond, sapphire, ruby
and emerald are classed as precious, where does that leave Tanzanite,
Paraiba tourmaline, Morganite, Alexandrite, etc? Surely they’re right
up there with the big boys.

A lot of gems that were thought of as semi-precious are certainly as
beautiful and in some cases as durable as the “precious” gems and to
call them semi-precious gives customers permission to expect lower
prices for anything that doesn’t contain one or two of the big four.

Now that coloured gems are big in fashion and people will pay big
money for cut glass cocktail rings in fashion stores,
“semi-precious” gems need a promotion.

Helen
Preston, UK


#5

Leonid,

By your reasoning, diamonds should be called semi precious. I’m not
sure anyone will ever call them that (which is not to say that I
haven’t seen diamonds that one might want to call that). However, the
term “semi precious” is NOT a scientific term but a commercial one
(hence the reason that diamonds are so common, yet still considered a
"precious" gem material). Therefore it is completely unimportant how
rare an element is, what it’s composition is, or any of the other
factors that you bring up. As a trade term, “semi precious” is a
completely negative implication and there is no reason to use it for
anything. The GIA has, for years, been attempting to get commercial
gem dealers to drop the term. As it happens, not a single other
legitimate, gem lab in the world will use the term either. There are
no certificates on gemstones that say this is a semiprecious
material. It is an obsolete, outdated, commercial term that should be
dropped from the lexicon in favor of using simply “gemstone” which is
an accurate description of all of these materials and carries no
negative connotation with it. Come on, do you really want to make up
a fantastic platinum ring with a magnificent Para Eiba tourmaline in
the center that you’re selling for $10,000, and then say to your
customers, “Hey, let me show you this great ring with a SEMI precious
stone in it I just made up”???

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


#6

I just wanted to reinforce Daniel Spirer’s point. The idea of semi
precious makes no sense at all anymore and those of us in the trade
ought to be the first people to educated the unwashed masses of how
misleading it is.

I believe that included in the semiprecious category, were it still
in use would be Alexandrite, Black Opal, Tanzanite, Imperial Jade,
Bixbite, Indicolite, Imperial Topaz, all of which could be hundreds
to thousands a carat. Meanwhile an industrial diamond or sapphire
used for sandpaper, could be considered precious. The definitions
and varieties of gems has changed so much over recent years that
using semi-precious can only show how out of step you are.

If we don’t educate people, who will? Wal-Mart? Kay’s Jewelers.

Derek Levin
www.gemmaker.com


#7
A lot of gems that were thought of as semi-precious are certainly
as beautiful and in some cases as durable as the "precious" gems
and to call them semi-precious gives customers permission to expect
lower prices for anything that doesn't contain one or two of the
big four. 

It’s my understanding that the terms "precious and semi-precious"
come form an ignorant ruling of the FTC (Federal Trade Commision)
here in the US. I think that’s why use of the terms tend to be
avoided here. Their use in advertising is governed by the FTC here.
It’s really a shame in that it implys a false sense of value in many
cases, both higher and lower. I feel that those terms are used
deceptively by some, just like the various takes on “diamon…”

Dan Wellman


#8
Come on, do you really want to make up a fantastic platinum ring
with a magnificent Para Eiba tourmaline in the center that you're
selling for $10,000, and then say to your customers, 

Actually, I would have no problem doing that. I come from the school
where craftsmanship overrides everything else, but back to your
point.

I understand completely the issue you are raising. The term semi-
precious probably is detrimental to sales and should not be used in
the presence of customers, but in professional circles there should
be some recognition of the fact that not all gemstones are made
equal. I think that we often making mistake in using professional
terminology in presence of customers and that causes alot of
confusion.

As far as diamonds are concern, until De Beers makes production data
available, we can only guess what the actual value of the diamonds
are. I would not be surprised if some time in the future, it would be
re-classified as ornamental stone.

Leonid Surpin


#9
It's my understanding that the terms "precious and semi-precious"
come form an ignorant ruling of the FTC (Federal Trade Commision)
here in the US. I think that's why use of the terms tend to be
avoided here. 

Actually, terms precious and semi-precious comes from K. E. Kluge
(1860) For more info here is the link

http://www.jjkent.com/articles/kluges-classification-stones.htm

Leonid Surpin


#10

The course work at GIA has been called “Colored Stones” for well
over 30 years. When I started that course, a very strong point was
made to identify other than Diamonds, as Colored Stones.
Semi-Precious so diminishes everything, and should be buried forever.

IMHO “Professional Circles” is rather arrogant, no matter how long
ago one’s training, stepping up into today’s times, and recognizing
times, and things do change.

Orchid is an open Forum, where more genuine assistance and support
is shared, than any other place, be it storefront, classroom,
seminar, or studio. We do not have closed circles here.

Classically trained, exquisite craftsmen and women, are not afraid
to embrace new techniques, ideas, and materials. Of course some do,
but reading these posts, they are easily identified, and taken with a
pinch of salt.

Ad campaigns coerce, or fool many, but not all. Our markets are
those who understand a Garnet is not a Ruby, yet buy for beauty and
value, not perceived value.

Semi-Precious is not a word I use, Yes, I am one, but I speak to
others. My ripple is moving forward, how about yours?

Hugs,
Terrie


#11

Diamond material is not, in fact the most expensive gem on the
market. Alexandrite, and other rare and overlooked stones far exceed
the market spot on diamonds, raw or faceted, coloured or colourless,
melee or larger carat weight…

further the elemental composites that fuse to form various gemstones
have absolutely no bearing on the market prices whatsoever… that is
simply idiosyncratic speculation that has no scientific, industrial,
or economic validity in the real world, and no bearing in the
jewelry or coloured stone trade or any market allied to the
industries involved in the sale or use of gem materials. chemistry is
not an economic variable where gemstone production, or delivery is
concerned, nor relevant to finished gem material’s classification in
any market or trade situation. it is only applicable to any
geological assesment or interpretation of the mineral’s identity-
just like keying a plant is to botany, it is solely relevant to
determining it’'s formal (scientific) nomenclature.

R. E. Rourke


#12
until De Beers makes production data available, we can only guess
what the actual value of the diamonds are. I would not be surprised
if some time in the future, it would be re-classified as ornamental
stone. 

the actual production costs of mining diamond materials is available
in any mining company’s annual report(s)…there is absolutely no
mystery there… cooking of books exists perhaps- for taxation and
importation/export purposes, but it’s all in print from mining
concerns that are legitimate…

R.E.Rourke


#13
So what happened to the term pique for diamonds? I used to hear
that word, but I never hear it anymore. 

I believe that as the about grading diamonds according
to G.I.A. standards became more widespread, and since the G.I.A.
grading system has repeatable results, the term pique became obsolete
as there were no actual value for the term. I used to tell people who
used the term semiprecious that now ge= ms that were inexpensive 30
years ago are now sold by the carat, and gems that were a few bucks
cost hundreds of dollars, when you spend that much, they are now
precious.

Richard Hart


#14
no matter how long ago one's training, stepping up into today's
times, and recognizing times, and things do change. 

Thing do change, so it will be appropriate to show the sequence of
the change.

Problem of Gem Classification is as old as civilization.

The first attempt known to us was Pliny the Elder in his work
"Natural History". Pliny divided gems into “men’s stones” for
brightly coloured and “women’s” for gems of light coloration. The
first 3 in the value sequence weRe: Diamond, Pearl, and Emerald.

There was curious development in the Middle Ages when gems were
classified into “Eastern” and “Western”. Eastern gems were more
highly prized than others due to better brilliancy and hardness,
which leads some to believe that Eastern gems were fancy coloured
sapphires and chrysoberyl.

G. Cardano used classification: transparent, translucent, and
opaque.

As I mentioned before the term “semi-precious” was proposed by
Kludge. Kludge proposed 2 groups “precious” and “semi-precious”.
“Precious” was divided into 3 classes, and “semi-precious” into 2
classes.

This classification was adopted and refined by Bauer and was widely
accepted.

Fersman proposed division in “Lapidary”, “Craft”, and “Biogenic” Each
"Lapidary" and “Craft” were subdivided into gems of 1st order, 2nd
order, and 3rd order. Biogenic included pearls, coral, amber, and
jet. ( Google for more info ).

V. I. Sobolevsky disposed with “Biogenic”. His classification was
"Jewels" and “Colour Stones”. “Colour Stones” included 1st order, and
2nd order gems and comprised of malachite, lapis, amazonite and
others for the 1st order; and fluorite, marble onyx, jasper, and etc.
for the second order.

E. Kievlenko used: “Jewellery stones”, “Jewellery-Industrial
stones”, and “Industrial stones” Anybody who is interested in the
details can research the subject on the net.

What needs to noticed is that with time classification only become
more detailed and more complex until GIA decided to make things easy
and lumped everything into nebulous term “Coloured stones”. Adoption
of this myopic view of Gemology is detrimental to developing
understanding of what gems are. The beaten to death explanation that
even the commonest gem can be beautiful is not applicable. Flowers
beautiful also, but we do not classify them as gems. Beauty is of no
use if gem is easily scratched or can shutter while one wearing it.

Leonid Surpin.


#15
the actual production costs of mining diamond materials is
available in any mining company's annual report(s)..there is
absolutely no mystery there.. cooking of books exists perhaps- for
taxation and importation/export purposes, but it's all in print
from mining concerns that are legitimate.. 

Let me share a story I heard sometime ago.

When Russians discovered a large diamond deposit in Yakutia, De
Beers, in order to prevent these diamonds from reaching the marked
and depressing price, made a deal to buy the new mine production,
whatever it may be. De Beers was counting on that in a subsequent
years, the mine output would become smaller, due to the conical
shape of the Kimberlite pipe. This is always the case.

However, in this particular situation, the mine output grew larger
and larger with every year. This was so unbelievable that De Beers
requested to examine the mine. Since the mine is above Arctic circle
the water cannot be used for mining due to the freezing. Russians
claimed that they used x-ray to spot the diamonds and lasers to
knock them out of conveyer belt, but engineers, who were conducting
inspection, did not see adequate electrical feeds to power all those
lasers and x-ray detectors. So the mystery of ever increasing
production remained unsolved.

De Beers dealt with the problem by change marketing to promote
smaller stones 1/2 to 3/4 carat. Strangely, the production of this
mine was that uniform.

I am not going to speculate what all this could mean. Everybody
should draw their own conclusions. But it is an appropriate
demonstration how reliable the mining records are.

Leonid Surpin.


#16

Dear Richard,

I used to tell people who used the term semiprecious that now ge=
ms that were inexpensive 30 years ago are now sold by the carat, and
gems that were a few bucks cost hundreds of dollars, when you spend
that much, they are now precious. 

From being a child I have always taken an interest in, read books
about and collected gem material. It always amazes me that the
general public (I hate that term as we are all members of the
general public where other professions are concerned) are (forgive
me) so ignorant when it comes to gems and their value. My mother in
law has such narrow minded opinions and won’t tolerate gems that
she’s not familiar with. I showed her a ring I recently purchased
with three lovely Spessartine garnets. She said they were washed out
as garnets should be red!!! I tried to educate her as to the
existence of garnets such as Rhodolite, Merelani mint, Spessartine,
Demantoid, Tsavorite, Hessonite, etc, etc but she wouldn’t have it. I
also have a lovely ruby ring with gorgeous pigeon blood red rubies
but she says they are not red enough and that rubies should be
scarlet. She will, however, happily spend plenty of money on lots of
cheap jewellery with plastic or glass “stones” - as will many other
people. I don’t understand that mentality.

People are so stuck in the past, believing that garnets, amethysts,
aquamarine, etc, etc are second rate “semi precious” stones and just
don’t see the beauty and value of them. In many cases they won’t buy
jewellery containing such stones as they see them as almost
worthless but will buy plastic! Go figure.

Helen
UK


#17
Beauty is of no use if gem is easily scratched or can shutter while
one wearing it. 

And yet emerald, long classified as a “precious” gemstone does just
this. The times HAVE changed, scientific knowledge has increased and
expanded a thousand fold since the term “semi precious” was coined
and it’s time to change. It’s just better for everyone in the trade.

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


#18
And yet emerald, long classified as a "precious" gemstone does
just this. 

Excellent point, but confirms the necessity for the correct
understanding of gems.

Most commercial emeralds, which do that, are only called emeralds
because FTC is asleep. What is passes under the name emerald, should
be called green beryl. If we eliminate all the "wanna be emeralds"
from the market, the true preciousness of this gem would become very
obvious, but what we have now is the situation when consumers think
that pale-green, epoxy stabilized junk is the real emerald, and why
not since we do not make any distinction.

Leonid Surpin


#19
pigeon blood red rubies 

The word policeman is out again. This phrase has cropped up a couple
of times lately. How many of you out there have actually seen the
blood of a pigeon?? I never have, and frankly, even though blood and
guts doesn’t particularly bother me, with the diseases going around
these days I’m not getting close enough to a dead pigeon (or a
bleeding one) to find out. Is pigeon blood a different color than
human blood? Is it a different color than dog’s blood? The times I’ve
seen my dog bleeding the color of his blood looked like it would make
a pretty ruby. How about dog’s blood ruby? Or elephant’s blood ruby?
Now that I think about it the color of my own blood would make a
pretty ruby. How about Danny’s blood ruby? Perhaps this is another
term that could be dropped from the current gemological lexicon.

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


#20

Helen:

My mother in law has such narrow minded opinions and won't
tolerate gems that she's not familiar with.

I got a real chuckle out of your post about semi-precious gems.? I
have been making gemstone jewelry for a number of years.?Everytime
my mother-in-law sees a piece she says “You know I see people
wearing that crap all the time.”? I made a london blue & yellow
topaz with pink sapphires necklace to wear to a reunion.? It has an
18K gold and diamond clasp.?It is one of my favorite pieces.?The
reunion was in our hometown and we stayed with my mother-in-law for
the weekend.? When I put the necklace on to wear it out that
evening, she said “You know that crap you wear is really popular.”?
I’ve given up on trying to educate her on colored stones.? To her,
if it isn’t a tiffany set diamond it isn’t jewelry.?

Of, BTW, she particularly likes the jewelry counter at JC Penney.?
Go figure!!!