10 Gemstones Everyone Can Afford
Love gemstones, but don’t have much of a budget to buy them? There are many affordable gemstones which are classified as semi-precious stones. Scroll down to find 10 beautiful, yet affordable gemstones.
The classifications of gemstones in the categories of ‘precious’ and ‘semi-precious’ is a custom that goes back as far as Ancient Greece.
Today, there are only four gemstones generally classified as precious: diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Indeed, a ruby is simply a sapphire with chromium impurities, so in that sense, there are only three.
These precious gemstones are generally far more expensive than the majority of semi-precious gems, except for those which are particularly rare.
Here are 10 affordable semi-precious gemstones to add to your collection. These stones make beautiful jewelry and also can be quite impressive without a setting.
Tiger’s eye is a gemstone with which most people are familiar. Indeed, many people have a piece of tiger’s eye, even if they do not collect many stones, because they are so very common.
This stone has a silky luster, is brown in color, and is more affordable than the similar cat’s eye stone. The most common variety of tiger’s eye, yellow and black, regularly sells for just a few dollars per carat or even less.
However, very high quality specimens or those with rare color combinations, for example the tiger’s eye cabochon pictured to the right, can be quite expensive.
Amethyst is a type of quartz which has a purplish color that can range from lavender to deep violet. Amethyst is a beautiful and popular stone, and it is also a very common one.
Once it was one of the most expensive gemstones in the world, but nowadays you will find that amethyst is very affordable.
There are highly productive amethyst mines all over the world, particularly in Brazil. In these mines amethyst geodes, filled with amethyst crystals, are found in sizes ranging from centimeters all the way up to meters.
This is the reason that even high quality amethyst will often sell for less than $10/carat.
Quartz is the second most abundant mineral in the crust of the Earth, following feldspar.
This is why many types of quartz make affordable gemstones. Rose quartz has a lovely pale pink hue, and is very popular in jewelry.
It is also quite popular for more esoteric uses, such as crystal therapy and healing. You can read more about that in this article: Rose Quartz Meaning.
Heat treatment gives citrine its distinctive yellowish-brownish color and cracked appearance inside.
While it is rare in nature, it is easy to manufacture in a lab, and with the enormous availability of amethyst this has driven prices down to just above that of amethyst.
There are many types of agate: blue band agate, blue lace agate, fire agate, pink agate, moss agate, red band agate, and others.
Some types are more rare and more valuable than others, but many types are quite common.
Agates can range widely in appearance, and take on many colors and banded patterns, and may be opaque or translucent. Many agates are cut and polished for display in mineral collections. An example of this can be seen above.
This is a type of chalcedony which is opaque and usually red, brown, yellow, or green, and on occasion blue.
Red is the most common form of jasper, the result of iron inclusions.
Most jasper sells for just a few dollars per carat and is very suitable for use in a pendant. It is a bit too soft for use in rings, unless you are very careful with it.
Hematite has a very distinctive look. It is dark grey or black in color, and has a shiny, metallic appearance when polished, owing to its iron content.
Usually hematite is not something you will see as a centerpiece in jewelry. Though certain varieties, like rainbow hematite are quite spectacular and deserve a place in any mineral collection.
It is a popular material for fashioning beads used in jewelry. Sometimes you will also see beads made out of ‘hemalyke’ which is a man-made equivalent.
Onyx is popular, relatively common, and also generally affordable within a modest price range. True black onyx, not the dyed agate often found in shops, will sell for just a few dollars per carat.
Usually onyx calls to mind an image of a pure black stone, but you may also find onyx which contains bands of white.
Onyx is found in large quantities and in massive sizes. An example of this can be seen to the right, where an entire statue (“The Thinker” by Auguste Rodin) was carved from onyx.
Black onyx has been used for thousands of years for its mystic powers, even today it is used by many for this reason. You can find out more in this article: Black onyx meaning.
This is a mineral that contains both copper and aluminum. While the finer grades are rare and expensive, the coarser grades are very common and reasonably inexpensive.
Turquoise is often treated to enhance its color, which actually devalues the stone. Other types of gemstone treatments are quite common as well.
There is even a good amount of outright fraud, where you will in fact be sold dyed howlite, rather than turquoise.
So you’ll need to do some research to learn what you are purchasing, a good place to start is our article: Turquoise: Gemstone of the Peoples.
You probably associate pearls with luxury, but pearls, like turquoise and many other gems, are graded on a scale. High quality natural pearls are still very expensive, virtually priceless in some cases.
However, with the advent of large scale pearl cultivation, pearls of a slightly lower grade are actually quite cheap.
Mid-grade pearls can save you a lot of money, but still give an effect which is similar to high-grade pearls, with a beautiful, iridescent sheen.’Freshwater pearls in particular are quite affordable, you can buy a necklace for as little as $100.
For more about pearls you can read our article: Pearls: A Cultured Treasure.
All these 10 affordable gemstones are excellent for starting collectors who wish to begin building up their collections by purchasing stones which are both affordable and easy to find in shops.
You can purchase these gemstones online without worrying terribly much about their authenticity, and you will also find that most of them are readily available at rock shops.
They work beautifully in jewelry, and are also lovely to set on display on a shelf. Each of them tells a unique story in terms of history as well as geology, and can beautify your life.