What Makes a Gemstone Precious? Exploring the 4 Most Valuable Gemstones.

Gemstones have been a symbol of wealth, power, and prestige for centuries. Among them, four gemstones are considered precious, each with its unique beauty and significance. These gemstones are diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. In this article, we will explore what makes these gemstones so valuable and why they have been coveted for centuries. From their rarity to their unique properties, we will delve into the history and mythology surrounding these precious stones and discover what makes them truly special. So, let’s dive in and uncover the secrets of the four most valuable gemstones in the world.

Understanding the Concept of Precious Gemstones

Factors That Determine a Gemstone’s Value

  • Rarity
  • Durability
  • Luster
  • Color
  • Transparency

When it comes to determining the value of a gemstone, several factors come into play. These factors can vary depending on the type of gemstone in question, but there are some common elements that are universally important. In this section, we will explore these factors in more detail.


One of the primary factors that determines a gemstone’s value is its rarity. A gemstone that is difficult to find or that is only found in a limited geographic area is typically more valuable than one that is abundant and widely available. For example, the diamond is one of the rarest gemstones in the world, and as a result, it is also one of the most valuable.


Another important factor that determines a gemstone’s value is its durability. A gemstone that is able to withstand the test of time and maintain its beauty and brilliance over many years is typically more valuable than one that is prone to scratches, cracks, or other types of damage. Some of the most durable gemstones include the diamond, sapphire, and ruby.


The luster of a gemstone is another important factor that determines its value. A gemstone that has a high level of luster and brilliance is typically more valuable than one that is dull or lackluster. The luster of a gemstone is determined by the way it reflects light, and some gemstones are able to reflect light better than others.


The color of a gemstone is also an important factor that determines its value. Some gemstones are more valuable than others due to their unique and striking colors. For example, a ruby is typically more valuable than a sapphire because of its vibrant red color.


Finally, the transparency of a gemstone is also an important factor that determines its value. A gemstone that is transparent and allows light to pass through it easily is typically more valuable than one that is opaque or cloudy. Some of the most transparent gemstones include the diamond, quartz, and topaz.

The 4 Most Valuable Gemstones

Key takeaway: When it comes to determining the value of a gemstone, several factors come into play, including rarity, durability, luster, color, and transparency. The most valuable gemstones are diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, which possess unique characteristics that make them highly sought-after. To showcase gemstones, pendant necklaces, earrings, and rings are popular choices, each with its unique characteristics and design elements. Proper cleaning, maintenance, storage, and security measures are essential to maintaining the beauty and value of your precious gemstone jewelry.

1. Diamond

Diamonds are the most sought-after gemstones in the world, prized for their exceptional hardness, brilliance, and fire. They are made up of carbon, the same element found in graphite, and their unique crystal structure gives them their remarkable properties.

Chemical Composition

Diamonds are composed solely of carbon, with each molecule arranged in a lattice structure that gives the gemstone its remarkable hardness. The carbon atoms are bonded together in a tight, symmetrical pattern that provides diamonds with their unparalleled strength and durability.


Diamonds are rated a 10 on the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness, making them the hardest substance known to man. This hardness allows diamonds to withstand even the most grueling conditions, making them ideal for use in industrial applications such as cutting and polishing other materials.

Brilliance and Fire

Diamonds are renowned for their exceptional brilliance and fire, which are the result of their unique crystal structure and the way they refract light. When light enters a diamond, it is reflected and refracted internally, creating a dazzling display of colors and sparkles that make diamonds so desirable.


Diamonds are typically colorless, but they can also be found in a range of colors, including yellow, pink, blue, and green. The color of a diamond is determined by the presence of impurities or structural defects in the crystal lattice, and the rarity and desirability of colored diamonds can vary greatly.

Famous Diamonds

There are many famous diamonds that have captured the imagination of people around the world. The Hope Diamond, for example, is a 45.52-carat blue diamond that is said to be cursed, while the Blue Heart Diamond is a 30-carat pear-shaped diamond that once belonged to Queen Marie Antoinette. These diamonds, along with many others, have become symbols of wealth, power, and prestige, and they continue to inspire awe and wonder to this day.

2. Ruby

Ruby, a beautiful and coveted gemstone, is a variety of the mineral corundum. It is a stunning gemstone with a chemical composition of aluminum oxide and chromium, which gives it its distinctive bright red color. The hardness of ruby is 9 on the Mohs Scale, making it one of the hardest gemstones, which makes it ideal for everyday wear.

In terms of transparency, ruby is opaque, meaning that it does not allow light to pass through it. This quality gives ruby its rich, deep red color that is so highly prized by gemstone enthusiasts.

There are several famous rubies that are highly sought after by collectors and connoisseurs. One of the most famous is the “Sunrise Ruby,” a 25.59-carat cushion-shaped ruby that sold for a record-breaking price of $30.3 million at a Sotheby’s auction in 2015. Another famous ruby is the “Black Prince Ruby,” a 170-carat gemstone that is set in the Imperial State Crown of the United Kingdom.

Overall, ruby is a highly valuable gemstone that is prized for its bright red color, durability, and rarity. Its unique characteristics make it a popular choice for jewelry and other decorative items, and it remains a sought-after gemstone for collectors and enthusiasts alike.

3. Sapphire

  • Chemical Composition: Aluminum Oxide with Iron, Titanium, or Magnesium
  • Hardness: 9 on the Mohs Scale
  • Color: Various, including blue, yellow, pink, and purple
  • Transparency: Transparent to Opaque
  • Famous Sapphires: Star of Adam, Padparadscha Sapphire

Characteristics of Sapphire

Sapphire, a member of the corundum family, is a mineral that possesses an exceptional hardness of 9 on the Mohs Scale. This attribute, coupled with its excellent durability, makes it an ideal gemstone for jewelry. Its chemical composition consists of aluminum oxide with trace amounts of iron, titanium, or magnesium, which imparts various colors to the gemstone. Sapphire comes in a range of hues, including blue, yellow, pink, and purple, with the blue variety being the most sought-after.

Famous Sapphires

Two of the most famous sapphires are the Star of Adam and the Padparadscha Sapphire. The Star of Adam is a 182-carat pink sapphire that once belonged to King George IV of England. It features a unique six-rayed star pattern that becomes visible when the gemstone is viewed in natural light. The Padparadscha Sapphire, on the other hand, is a rare and valuable variety of sapphire that exhibits a vivid pinkish-orange color. This hue is caused by the presence of trace amounts of chromium, which creates a striking contrast with the gemstone’s translucent quality.

4. Emerald

Emerald, one of the most precious gemstones, is a type of beryllium aluminum silicate with a hardness of 8 on the Mohs Scale. Its vivid green color and ability to be both opaque and transparent make it a highly sought-after gemstone.

Emeralds are composed of beryllium aluminum silicate, a mineral that is also known as bertrandite. This mineral is formed from a combination of aluminum, silicon, and oxygen, with small amounts of other elements such as beryllium, iron, and calcium. The presence of these elements in emeralds gives them their distinctive green color.

Emeralds have a hardness of 8 on the Mohs Scale, making them one of the hardest gemstones. This hardness is due to the strong bonding between the atoms in the mineral structure, which gives emeralds their durability and resistance to scratching.

The vivid green color of emeralds is due to the presence of chromium and vanadium impurities in the mineral structure. The amount and type of impurities present in an emerald can affect its color, with higher concentrations of chromium giving emeralds a deeper green hue.


Emeralds are often classified as either opaque or transparent, depending on their clarity. Opaque emeralds are cloudy and do not allow light to pass through them, while transparent emeralds allow light to pass through, creating a bright and sparkling effect.

Famous Emeralds

There are many famous emeralds that are renowned for their beauty and rarity. The Taj Mahal Emerald, for example, is a stunning example of an emerald that weighs over 60 carats and is set in a gold and diamond pendant. Another famous emerald is the Inanna Emerald, which is named after the ancient Sumerian goddess of love and war. This emerald weighs over 12,000 carats and is one of the largest and most valuable emeralds in the world.

Gemstone Settings and Jewelry Designs

Pendant Necklaces

Pendant necklaces are a popular way to showcase gemstones, and there are several settings that can be used to enhance their beauty and durability. Some of the most common settings for pendant necklaces include:

  • Prong Setting: In this setting, the gemstone is held by a series of metal prongs that are carefully designed to hold the stone securely in place. This setting allows the maximum amount of light to enter the stone, making it appear more vibrant and luminous. However, it also means that the stone is more vulnerable to damage if it is subjected to rough handling.
  • Bezel Setting: In this setting, the gemstone is completely surrounded by a metal rim or bezel, which helps to protect it from impacts and abrasions. This setting is less expensive than a prong setting, but it also means that the stone appears darker and less brilliant because it is not exposed to as much light.
  • Tension Setting: In this setting, the gemstone is held in place by a tension band or wire that is tightly wound around the stone. This setting is very secure, but it also means that the stone is less visible because it is not exposed to as much light. It is also less common than prong and bezel settings.

Each setting has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of setting will depend on the specific needs and preferences of the wearer. For example, a prong setting may be more suitable for a delicate, high-end pendant, while a bezel setting may be more appropriate for a more casual, everyday piece.


Earrings are a popular accessory that can elevate any outfit. They come in various styles, each with its unique characteristics and design elements. Some of the most popular earring styles include stud earrings, drop earrings, and dangle earrings.

Stud Earrings

Stud earrings are simple and classic, consisting of a small gemstone or diamond set in a metal stud. They are versatile and can be worn with any outfit, making them a timeless choice. Stud earrings are also a popular choice for engagement and wedding rings due to their minimalist design.

Drop Earrings

Drop earrings, also known as pendant earrings, feature a gemstone or diamond pendant that hangs from a metal chain. They are elegant and sophisticated, and can add a touch of glamour to any outfit. Drop earrings can be worn for formal occasions or as a statement piece for everyday wear.

Dangle Earrings

Dangle earrings are playful and whimsical, featuring a gemstone or diamond that dangles from a metal chain. They are a fun and fashionable choice, and can add a touch of personality to any outfit. Dangle earrings can be worn for casual or formal occasions, depending on the design and gemstone used.

In conclusion, earrings are a versatile and essential accessory for any jewelry collection. Whether you prefer the classic simplicity of stud earrings or the glamour of drop earrings, there is a style to suit every taste and occasion.


Rings have been a staple of jewelry for centuries, and they remain a popular choice for both their aesthetic appeal and sentimental value. Gemstones are often used in ring designs, adding a touch of luxury and sparkle to the piece. In this section, we will explore three different types of rings that showcase gemstones in unique and captivating ways.

Solitaire Rings

A solitaire ring is a classic design that features a single gemstone set in the center of the band. This setting highlights the beauty and brilliance of the gemstone, making it the focal point of the piece. Solitaire rings can be worn for any occasion and are often chosen as engagement rings or statement pieces.

Three-Stone Rings

A three-stone ring is a timeless design that features three gemstones set in a row along the band. This setting is often used for engagement rings and signifies the past, present, and future of a relationship. The three stones can be of equal size and shape, or they can be graduated in size, creating a unique visual effect.

Halo Rings

A halo ring is a modern design that features a central gemstone surrounded by a circle of smaller diamonds or other gemstones. This setting creates a halo effect around the central stone, enhancing its brilliance and making it appear larger. Halo rings are a popular choice for engagement rings and can be customized with different metal types, gemstone shapes, and sizes.

In conclusion, rings are a versatile and timeless choice for showcasing gemstones. Whether you prefer the classic elegance of a solitaire ring, the romantic charm of a three-stone ring, or the modern allure of a halo ring, there is a design to suit every taste and style.


Bracelets are a popular type of jewelry that can be worn alone or stacked with other bracelets. They are a versatile accessory that can be dressed up for formal occasions or worn casually for everyday wear. Here are some of the most popular types of bracelets:

Tennis Bracelets

Tennis bracelets are a classic type of bracelet that features a row of evenly spaced diamonds or other precious gemstones. They are named after the tennis player Chris Evert, who famously wore them during her matches. Tennis bracelets are a timeless piece of jewelry that can be worn to any formal occasion.

Bangle Bracelets

Bangle bracelets are a type of bracelet that is worn around the wrist. They are typically made of metal and can be solid or hollow. Bangles can be worn singly or in stacks, and they are a popular accessory for both men and women. They are often adorned with gemstones or engravings, making them a statement piece of jewelry.

Charm Bracelets

Charm bracelets are a type of bracelet that features one or more charms. The charms can be made of gold, silver, or other metals, and they can be engraved or set with gemstones. Charm bracelets can be worn alone or stacked with other bracelets, and they are a popular accessory for women of all ages. They can be personalized with charms that represent hobbies, interests, or memories, making them a sentimental piece of jewelry.

Caring for Your Precious Gemstone Jewelry

Cleaning and Maintenance

Maintaining the beauty and value of your precious gemstone jewelry requires careful attention to cleaning and maintenance. Here are some essential tips to keep your gemstones looking their best:

  • Avoid harsh chemicals and abrasive materials: Harsh chemicals and abrasive materials can damage the surface of your gemstones and alter their color or clarity. Avoid exposing your gemstone jewelry to household cleaners, chlorine, and abrasive materials like sand or rough surfaces.
  • Use a soft cloth or jewelry cleaner: Use a soft, clean cloth or a jewelry cleaner designed specifically for gemstones to wipe away dirt and debris. Avoid using regular soap or water, as these can leave a film on the gemstones that can attract dirt and make them appear dull.
  • Get your gemstones professionally cleaned and inspected periodically: Over time, even with proper care, gemstones can become dirty or develop cloudiness or other imperfections. To keep your gemstones looking their best, have them professionally cleaned and inspected every six months to a year. A professional jeweler can also check for any signs of wear or damage and make any necessary repairs.

By following these simple tips, you can enjoy your precious gemstone jewelry for years to come while preserving their beauty and value.

Storage and Security

When it comes to caring for your precious gemstone jewelry, proper storage and security are crucial to maintaining their beauty and value. Here are some tips to keep your jewelry safe and in good condition:

  • Keep your jewelry in a protective case or box: A soft, padded case or a box lined with velvet or a similar material is ideal for storing your jewelry. This will help prevent your jewelry from getting scratched or damaged, and it will also keep it organized and easy to find.
  • Avoid exposing your jewelry to extreme temperatures or humidity: Extreme temperatures and humidity can cause your jewelry to expand or contract, which can lead to cracks or other damage. Avoid exposing your jewelry to hot showers, open flames, or prolonged exposure to sunlight. It’s also a good idea to keep your jewelry in a dry, cool place.
  • Consider investing in insurance to protect your valuable gemstones: If your jewelry is particularly valuable, it may be worth investing in insurance to protect it against loss or damage. This can give you peace of mind knowing that your jewelry is covered in case of an accident or theft.

By following these simple tips, you can help ensure that your precious gemstone jewelry stays beautiful and valuable for years to come.


1. What are the 4 gemstones that are considered precious?

The four gemstones that are considered precious are diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. These gemstones are highly valued for their beauty, rarity, and durability.

2. What makes a gemstone precious?

A gemstone is considered precious if it has certain characteristics that make it valuable. These characteristics include rarity, beauty, durability, and the ability to be cut and polished. Additionally, precious gemstones are often associated with special meanings and cultural significance.

3. Why are diamonds considered the most precious gemstone?

Diamonds are considered the most precious gemstone because they are incredibly rare and require specific geological conditions to form. Diamonds are also highly valued for their beauty and ability to be cut and polished to create stunning jewelry.

4. How are rubies different from other red gemstones?

Rubies are different from other red gemstones because they are the only gemstone that is red due to the presence of chromium. Other red gemstones, such as garnets, are red due to different minerals. Rubies are also highly valued for their rarity and durability.

5. What is the difference between a sapphire and a ruby?

The main difference between a sapphire and a ruby is their color. Sapphires can come in a variety of colors, while rubies are always red. Sapphires are also more commonly found than rubies, making them less rare.

6. Why are emeralds considered a precious gemstone?

Emeralds are considered a precious gemstone because they are rare and have a beautiful, rich green color. Emeralds are also highly valued for their durability and the ability to be cut and polished to create stunning jewelry.

7. Can a gemstone lose its precious status?

A gemstone can lose its precious status if it is no longer considered rare or if it is found in large quantities. Additionally, if a gemstone is no longer able to be cut and polished, it may also lose its precious status.

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