Everyone familiar with buying gemstones knows the fact that some gemstones are precious, while some are only considered semi-precious. The precious gems
include those such as diamonds, rubies and emeralds, which are usually sold at extremely high prices due to their superior colour or how rare they are.
One of the most common myths about how to distinguish precious gems from semi-precious ones is that the differentiation of the two has been around for many, many centuries. In fact, distinguishing between the two has only been around since the mid-1800s.
One of the most famous cases about a gemstone being demoted from precious to semi-precious is the amethyst. Historically a precious stone, when large deposits of amethyst were unconvered in Brazil and Uruguay, the stone was reclassified as semi-precious, due to the decrease in rarity. The term
“semi-precious” did not even exist before the demotion of the amethyst.
Another interesting case is that surrounding diamonds. Diamonds are marketed as the perfect engagement rings, the jewelry to let her know you love her, “A girl’s best friend”, but historically, diamonds were nowhere close to being as in demand as coloured gems such as rubies, emeralds and sapphires.
Although in today’s age, it may be difficult to comprehend, but diamonds were not considered that rare. Due to the large diamond finds in South Africa,more advertising and exclusivity has surrounded the stone, with many of the thanks going to advertisers of jewelry giants that have made the diamond such an important part of Westernized culture.
But if diamonds were being mined by, literally, the tons, why are they considered so rare? That’s where De Beers comes in. Formed in order to prevent
the British investors from losing their investments, De Beers began to (and to this day, still does) control the international supply of diamonds.
The advertisements mentioned earlier? A decade-long campaign by De Beers to engrave the diamond on society’s mind as the ultimate precious gem.
It’s difficult to come to any conclusion other than that of the precious gem’s high status being due to economic monopoly and advertising.