Definition of gem in English:


nounPlural gems

  • 1A precious or semi-precious stone, especially when cut and polished or engraved.

    ‘a pagoda embellished with precious gems’
    • ‘The cave was glimmering with the shining gems and precious jewels that were collected over the centuries.’
    • ‘On display are approximately two hundred examples of semiprecious and precious gems, decorative stones, and outstanding pieces of jewelry.’
    • ‘In recent years there has been a flurry of headlines about prospecting companies coming to the Highlands in search of precious gems.’
    • ‘Now I have absolutely nothing to do with crystals, gems and precious stones whatsoever: my thing is fire magic at new moon.’
    • ‘The first encounter many will have with the diamond and precious gems industry will be in the plush backroom of a high-street jewellers.’
    • ‘The throne sat in the center, a large, cushioned armchair studded with many a precious and semi-precious gem.’
    • ‘Members were instructed in the various settings of precious stones and gems.’
    • ‘Once the domain of royalty, precious gems have today become a part of almost everyone's jewellery.’
    • ‘A good example would be the fourteen precious gems.’
    • ‘Others made from precious gems appear lighter.’
    • ‘Faberge's ingenious use of enamelling on gold and silver, his stone cutting and use of precious gems, made his imperial Easter eggs works of art.’
    • ‘Diamonds and precious gems littered the ground like pebbles.’
    • ‘Most of us don't have thousands of dollars to spend on a fancy night or weekend trip, precious gems, or expensive high society gifts to impress our loved one.’
    • ‘Likewise, no true pleasure is attained from gems and precious stones, although admittedly a false sense of joy may be felt.’
    • ‘These ornaments are made in silver, and precious and semi-precious gems are used to embellish them.’
    • ‘Inside the red box was a diamond necklace, engraved with several other precious gems.’
    • ‘On top of the stone, a circle of precious gems and minerals formed a ring around a pool of water.’
    • ‘There were also several polished gems and stones, each serving a different purpose, along with many partially burnt candles.’
    • ‘Take an extraordinary artistic heritage, the luxury of precious metals and priceless gems and an environment that can make even the most jaded shopper quiver with excitement.’
    • ‘They reflect and refract the light, giving the depth and luminosity of a precious gem.’
    jewel, precious stone, semi-precious stone, stone, solitaire, brilliant, baguette, cabochon
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Used in names of some brilliantly coloured hummingbirds, e.g. mountain gem.
  • 2An outstanding person or thing.

    ‘this architectural gem of a palace’
    • ‘Each song on the trio's final disc is a pop gem, but they've all been on previous albums.’
    • ‘One of the city's architectural gems is to be restored to glory by a multi-million pound revamp - but some of Manchester's oldest trees will be felled in the process.’
    • ‘Having such a precious gem as the Olympics hanging around gives a fulcrum to the leverage of dissent.’
    • ‘The clubhouse in the mountains is a little gem of rustic Spanish charm, with great food and friendly staff ready to ply you with refreshing copas of champagne and plates of Serrano ham after your labours.’
    • ‘His ‘unique’ spoken phrasing has been applied to pop gems before, but this thing's a bit different and more personal.’
    • ‘The most brilliant of the gems are by the lesser known artists.’
    • ‘The cathedral is now a vibrant and living component of the cultural and religious life of Waterford city and is one of our most treasured architectural gems.’
    • ‘This gem of a book explores the ways in which animals control and utilize body heat.’
    • ‘One of the commentators (I wish I knew his name) offered a gem that went something like this.’
    • ‘Some are songs that other bands now play, but, in his hands, they emerge as individual gems glimmering in the brilliance of his unique arrangements.’
    • ‘But in the midst of this relentless repression, there were rare, precious gems of resistance gleaming out from the melancholy.’
    • ‘Now you can find all of these wonderful pop gems living in a different world.’
    • ‘It's a little gem of the recent morphometric literature.’
    • ‘Beside the architectural and historical gems, there's another side to the town: it is a centre for alternative therapies.’
    • ‘Buried within lengthy scientific explanations of pigment manufacture are gems of information and insight into colour and its history in art.’
    • ‘With over 400 miles of ground to cover, you'll have time to stop at all of the special places that make this byway such a gem.’
    • ‘Undoubtedly you will be treated to some gems, some brilliant bits of repartee, the occasional burst of intellectual fireworks.’
    • ‘The school was bought by the parish council for use by the people - not because it was considered an architectural gem, or for sentimental reasons.’
    • ‘A meeting is being organised to set up a civic trust or society to preserve the city's architectural gems and encourage stunning modern designs.’
    • ‘It was a tayra, a large, weasel-like mustelid, one of the real gems of New World rainforests.’
    best, finest, pride, prize, treasure, glory, wonder, flower, pearl, jewel, the jewel in the crown, masterpiece, chef-d'œuvre, leading light, pick, choice, paragon, prime, cream, the crème de la crème, elite, elect
    View synonyms

verbgems, gemmed, gemming

[with object]usually as adjective gemmed
  • Decorate with or as with gems.

    ‘a gemmed necklace’
    ‘tiny drops of sweat gemmed his forehead’
    • ‘The alter was made of pearl white marble and the crosses and decor made out of gold and silver, gemmed with precious and semi-precious stones.’
    • ‘Their cheeks are gemmed with tears lit pink in the coming sun.’
    • ‘With the gemmed undergarments being worth a reputed £10,000, to not show them to anybody would be even more pointless than making them in the first place.’
    • ‘With this idea he hastened to the florist's and purchased a bouquet that was still gemmed with the morning dew-drops.’
    • ‘Because he squirmed in protest as she tried to remove his gilded, gemmed gauntlets, she had to leave them on.’


Old English gim, from Latin gemma ‘bud, jewel’; influenced in Middle English by Old French gemme.