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All About Gemstones: Semiprecious Gems
The line between what constitutes a "precious" or "semiprecious" gemstone has more to do with historical context than any objective measure of its current value. Historically, the so-called "precious" or "cardinal gems" included diamond, emerald, ruby and sapphire, but also included amethyst which today is both abundant, and inexpensive.
Other than the historic, ceremonial, or religious significance of labeling a gem as "precious," or "semiprecious," there is no actual difference between these designations, and their use can be misleading, inappropriate, and inaccurate. In fact, some of the stones in this category might very well be considered "precious," due to their increasing scarcity, high price, or changing consumer tastes. Therefore, inclusion or omission of a particular gemstone/mineral in the "precious" or "semiprecious" category should neither diminish, nor enhance a stone's prestige or monetary value.
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