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