Lapis lazuli is deep blue, with golden flecks that shimmer like little stars, ethereal moonstone has a quality that makes light float across its surface, and the fascinating iolite changes colour when it’s held in different light.
Semiprecious gemstones can be extremely rare, remarkably beautiful and enormously expensive, which is why the label “semiprecious” is an unfair one. It suggests that the stones in this category have less value than precious gemstones, traditionally regarded as diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds.
The distinction between different kinds of gemstones was made in the mid-19th century, when it was decided that high quality, rare stones carried more value, and so they were called precious, or cardinal, gemstones. All others were categorised as semiprecious, regardless of their value, scarcity or quality. While the gem trade no longer strictly divides all stones into these two categories, the labels – undeservedly - persist. We’re going to look at the profiles of three popular semiprecious gems: amethyst, opal and turquoise.