Oh So Precious! 

 The New Precious Gemstones That Made A Big Impression In 2020

By Jennifer McCurry

Move over "precious stones," a new cast of gems are in the spotlight. 2020 was a year filled with vivid color jewels in every size and shape. Categorical terms and definitions, such as semi-precious, are no longer relevant when searching for the unusual and rare. We have now moved into a new age of classifying gems.

During the 19th century, cut and polished gemstones were divided into two categories, precious and semi-precious. The deciding criteria was based on a stone's beauty, rarity, and quality. Diamond, emerald, sapphire, and ruby became the four most desired gems because of these standards, earning the title "precious" while all others were considered to have less commercial appeal. Different cultures also adopted this as truth and created a supply and demand for these four categories.

The Original Precious Gemstones

While some in the trade still utilize the terms today, the jewelry community had initially created the classifications as marketing tools to increase sales. Diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and rubies are rare and highly coveted, but that is not to say that other stones are not as valuable or scarce. For example, some Paraiba tourmalinestanzanites, black opals, and natural pearls can catch far more more per carat. A mine can be depleted of material, or a new source discovered over time, increasing the demand for a specific mineral. For instance, when the Sleeping Beauty mine in Arizona shut down, the matrix free turquoise price dramatically increased. 

Desire still sets the stage for what we consider precious, but the rules have changed. No longer are we confined to a specific grouping. Over time the definition of precious gemstones become misleading, and there are many variables to take into account. All gemstones, with their natural and inherent chemical structure, are nature's treasures and are invaluable. 

Candy-colored gems like amethyst and tourmaline, organic texture from pearl and coral, and the unusual phenomena found in moonstone or tigers-eye are extraordinary. Yes, there are very rare stones that deserve the ultra-precious status. Still, earning a high aregard are minerals, which have a long-standing history of evolution, mining, cutting, and polishing.



Tourmaline ranges in colors from red to yellow, pink to violet, and green to neon blue. Popular among designers, the Rubellite and Paraiba have taken center stage.


Tanzanite, named after Tanzania, is a vibrate blue to bluish-purple mineral. Since it's popularity beginning in the 1960s, it is the only known mineral accumulation with commercial significance. Its color is distinctive and highly coveted by collectors. 


Turquoise is an opaque blue to green gemstone that has been cherished for centuries. Only located in a few geographical regions, this gem has a rich history and unforgettable color. 


The pearl is a lustrous phenomenon in nature. It comes in a soft palette of colors and blue, green and purplish pink hues. Whether amorphic in shape or perfectly cylinder, this organic specimen has stood the test of time. 


The opal is one of the most diversified gemstones because of its unusual amorphous structure. It can come various combinations with a multi-layer play-of-color, vibrancy, or illumination.  


Dating back to ancient civilizations, coral is a branch-like structure with pigmented colors rangin in red, orange, pink, white, blue, and black. The mineral's intense red and orange shades continue to be the most popular in jewelry designs. 


Jade is highly prized for its rich green coloration but also comes in other various hues, including red, black, white, and violet. Artisans love to cut this stone into cabochons or intricate carvings. 

2020 showed us vivid gemstones of all varieties and the term "precious" applied to all of nature's beautiful gemological creations.