From the start of recorded history Gemstones have always been a symbol of wealth, power and beauty.
They have been collected and held by Kings, Mongols, Shahs and rulers of their times The extreme rarity and value of these precious stones did not give common people the chance to own or admire their beauty up close.
It was not until the late 1800’s, after the industrial revolution, when gems and diamonds were available to the general public. The industrial revolution led to a rise in the working class who had new disposable income which they could spend on these rare and beautiful gemstones. All of this allowed the privilege of owning once an exclusively held material to more people than ever before.
Today not much has changed, as Gemstones hold power and prestige and are given as tokens of appreciation and love. A gift from nature, Gemstones are precious due to their great beauty, durability and scarcity.
The hardness of a gemstone is based on its ability to resist scratches and abrasions, which is an important factor in a stone's durability and thus value.
The Mohs Scale of Hardness (created in 1822 by German mineralogist Friedrich Mohs) places each gemstone family into a relative scale from 1-10, with 1 being the softest and 10 the hardest.
This is not an even scale, rather relative. The scale was made for quick reference rather than precise measurements.
Nothing can scratch a diamond except for another diamond.
This is the reason why when cutting diamonds the blades must be polished with diamond dust. A diamond can scratch all other gems and materials on earth. Ruby and Sapphire (Corundum) can scratch every stone other than diamond. And the list goes on.
Origins of “Carat” Weight”
Gems and gemstones have been traded for hundreds of years, long before electronic scales and measuring gauges. To more accurately trade precious stones, traders would use the seeds of the Carob tree to measure the weight of gems. Carob seeds were the perfect choice as they were uniform in weight and plentiful; they grew on the bank of the Mediterranean. The carob seed weighs about 200 mgs or about 1/5th of a carat. Five seeds would equal 1 carat.
What gives gemstones their value?
It comes down to 3 factors that influence their value:
Gemstones are truly a gift from the earth. It is close to impossible to find any other material or being on the planet that has the same characteristics as gemstones. No one can doubt the beauty of a royal blue sapphire, the strength of a diamond or the rarity of a Burmese ruby.