The Crucial Difference Between Diamonds and Gems

diamonds and gems

If you’re looking for jewelry with a bit of sparkle, you’ll see that there are tons of different gems out there. From regal sapphires to ethereal opals to classic diamonds, it can be difficult to know what the best option is. 

Besides the obvious appearances, you may be wondering what the difference is between diamonds and gems of other varieties. Here we’ll break down the similarities and differences between diamonds and other gems to help you find the perfect stone for your next piece of jewelry. 

What Is a Gemstone?

According to the International Gem Society, a gem is a naturally-occurring stone that is valued for its beauty and rarity. Gems are usually cut and polished to be used in jewelry and other types of decoration. Most gemstones are minerals, but there are a few exceptions to this rule. 

Each type of gem has its own unique makeup of different compounds. That’s why a red diamond is not the same thing as a ruby. Even though the color may be somewhat similar, they are completely different stones. 

According to this definition, diamonds are just one type of gemstone. They are a part of the group of gemstones known as precious gems. 

There are several different classifications of gemstones. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular categories of gems. 

Precious Gemstones

Precious gemstones are the rarest and most valuable types of gems. These include stones such as diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and rubies. 

Semi-Precious Gemstones

These gems are slightly less rare than precious gemstones, and therefore generally less expensive. These stones are very popular in a variety of different jewelry.

They come in just about every color of the rainbow, too. Some of the most popular semi-precious gems include amethyst, garnet, topaz, and zircon.

Organic Gemstones

Organic gems are different from mineral gems because they’re created by living organisms. Natural pearls, amber, and coral are some common examples of organic gemstones. 

Lab-Created Gemstones

These stones have the same structure as natural gems, but they are created in a lab under controlled conditions. These gemstones are also called synthetic gems. Since these gemstones aren’t rare, they’re usually less expensive than natural gems. 

What Makes Diamonds So Special?

Although diamonds are considered a gemstone, they often stand out as more special or rare than other types of stones. Why is this? Here are some facts about what makes diamonds unique.

The Hardest Gemstone

Diamonds are the hardest gemstone, so they’re a highly reliable material for jewelry. They’re also used in machinery and electronics for this reason. 

Diamond Clarity and Color

Most people think of diamonds as being white or clear, but they also come in many different colors. The color scale used to grade a diamond’s quality places very clear, white diamonds above diamonds that are tinted with yellow or cloudiness. 

However, diamonds in rare colors are also very valuable. Diamonds in unusual colors like purple, pink, and blue are highly prized and expensive. Unlike other gemstones in these colors, colored diamonds tend to be more muted in hue. 

No matter the color, a diamond’s clarity has a big impact on its value. Clarity means that the stone is free of cloudiness, blemishes, and other defects. 

So Sparkly

Many people value diamonds for their sparkle, but they don’t come out of the ground that way. Diamonds have to be cut and polished to get their characteristic gleam. 

Because of its mineral structure, a diamond can be cut into a variety of different shapes. But the facets of each diamond are unique. Its final shape and appearance depend on the size, shape, and quality of the diamond as it was extracted from the ground. 

Why Are Diamonds so Expensive? 

So many people are drawn to diamonds because of the luxury they seem to represent. Diamonds generally come with a high price tag, but most people expect this. Diamonds are expensive because they’re rare, right? 

Well, not exactly. In truth, diamonds really aren’t that rare. 

The price of diamonds is kept artificially high by the diamond industry, most notably the De Beers Mining Corporation. That fact, accompanied by marketing campaigns portraying diamonds as a luxury item has given diamonds a reputation for being more exclusive than they really are. 

Diamond engagement rings were popularized by the diamond industry in the 1940s, and the tradition has been going strong ever since. These days, it’s hard to imagine a proposal without a traditional diamond ring. 

Diamonds and Gems: Which Is the Best?

When it comes down to it, all gemstones are beautiful in their own unique way. The best gemstone for you is the one that makes your eyes light up at first sight and fits your own unique sense of style. 

But when it comes to getting the most sparkle for your money, diamonds are probably not the most economical option. Diamonds have the advantage of being extremely durable and they come in a wide variety of shapes and colors. But while there’s no question that diamonds are beautiful, they aren’t really as rare and special as they are marketed to seem. 

Some people feel that diamonds make a good investment. Since it doesn’t seem like the diamond industry is going anywhere anytime soon, there might be some truth to that. 

Overall, the bottom line is that you shouldn’t feel pressured to buy a diamond just because of its perceived value. If you like the look of diamonds but not the price tag, you could always opt for a similar but much more affordable stone, like cubic zirconia, white topaz, or moissanite

Finding the Best Jewelry for Your Style

Great jewelry is all about showing off your unique personality. Find the gem that matches your own style and you can’t go far wrong.

Did this article help you understand more about the differences between diamonds and gems? Check out other articles from our blog for more helpful jewelry tips.

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