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Even otherwise sober, level headed people have been known to fall under the spell of the sparkle of some small cut mineral crystal. Any reference to feelings experienced while contemplating gems is likely to include words like fascinated, rapt, smitten or captivated. One gemstone lover admits that the whole gem-craze is pure madness – but, says he, a bit of madness that permits some poetry in our otherwise drab lives is to be cherished.
Admittedly, the play of sparkles emanating from a gem has a joyous effect on the beholder. However, it is difficult to say whether that is due to the beauty of the gem or to the consciousness of its monetary value.
For as long as the collective memory of mankind exists, gems have been treasured for their beauty, durability and rarity - and for healing and spiritual powers that are sometimes attributed to them. Strictly speaking, only minerals qualify to be called gemstones. Some rocks and organic materials, though not minerals, are often grouped with gemstones. Thus bidorbuy includes not only minerals such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires or emeralds in its Gemstones & Rocks category, but also lapis lazuli (which is a rock) as well as "organic gems" like amber and pearls.
Traditionally, only diamond, emerald, ruby and sapphire, the big four of the gem world, were considered to be true precious stones. These four posses all the qualities that our ancients looked for in a gem: beauty, hardness, durability, lustre and rarity. Transparency is also important, though the value of some stones, like rubies, primarily depends on the beauty and attractiveness of the colour.
All other gemstones were grouped together under the label of “semi precious stones”, because they could boast of only some – but not all - of these qualities.
This classification is now outdated. The best samples of some recently discovered gemstones, like tanzanite or tsavorite, can be more than a match for the similarly coloured gems from the “precious stones” camp. Tanzanite, a blue to purplish-blue mineral, was found in the1960s in Tanzania. One of the youngest and rarest gemstones, tanzanite is among the most popular gems on bidorbuy. Tsavorite is also well-known to the bidorbuy community. This gemstone, discovered in the 1960s along the border between Kenya and Tanzania, is a beautiful green variety of garnet.
It is especially important to note that the traditional distinction between “precious” and “semi-precious” does not necessarily reflect modern monetary values. Some hardy and translucent “semi-precious” in the sought-after colour can be far more valuable than a mid-quality “precious” stone. Thus, a “perfect” tsavorite can out-value a mid-category emerald.
In any case, evaluating gemstones is a very subjective art. There are universally accepted grading systems, but the value of gems (especially the coloured ones) is ultimately in the eye of the beholder. The sharper and the more trained that eye is, the closer it can estimate the monetary equivalent of a gemstone.
And whatever people who like to put down diamonds in favour of more colourful stones say, no other gem can match that distinct sparkle of a diamond. Even a half-carat diamond will radiate a ray that drills right to that part of the human brain responsible for generating the message known as “I want it”. To achieve that level of seduction, other gems need to be much bigger; some of them must grow to full 10 karats in order to look their best.
Gems of note