Why are semi precious stones called "Semi precious" stones?

This happened in the 1970's, when "Colored gemstones" were classified as either Semi precious stones or Precious stones. Why this happened though, no one knows? I realise the importance of this answer when all my childhood I used to ask my 3rd generation experienced dad "Dad, what are Semi precious stones" and he used to answer "They are Topaz, garnet, peridot, amethyst, citrine etc"

There was a reason why the Customs officers checked peoples' bags

So recently my teacher Mr Abba who actually knows alot as he is an 20 year experienced teacher at the Carlsbad GIA campus, he told us the following and I made my own understanding behind why they were classified into these two broad categories which really has started to loose its meaning.

"Gemstones are classified into either Semi precious stones or Precious stones" for Tax purposes. This way when Gemstones are imported into the United States - they are classified either as one of them, and on each type of stones, there are different types of tax percentage. 

However, why I say that its a difficult thing to call now is because some of the finest Paraiba tourmalines are more expensive than Finese rubies now, so why should Paraiba's be taxed lesser percentage then Rubies? This is a very debatable question in todays Gemstone market place.

For more information about Wholesale Semi precious stones - you can always read about them here.


  1. Well this turned out to be an anticlimax - are they merely classified based on tax??

    1. Yes exactly! Anticlimax like the Indian Bollywood movies these days, haha! Classified on the "initial" value of the stones of what they used to be. Like tourmalines used to be very inexpensive and thi classified as semi precious stones but now they are more expensive then some of the precious stones. So yes anticlimax!


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