There are over 6000 minerals on earth, many of which we will never see in real life. Bizarre mineral assemblages and trace impurities have caused some of the world’s rarest gemstones and there are many factors that are to be considered to determine which gemstone is valuable, but one of the first places to start is knowing if it’s natural. Natural gemstones are those that naturally came from nature without interference and modifications from humans aside from its mining, cutting, and polishing. While they look different from their original forms, they are not altered, treated, and enhanced. Some lower quality gemstones, such as a genuine gemstone, are real but they are treated by jewelry manufacturers to enhance its look. Of course, knowing your purpose in acquiring can help you determine which type to choose, especially since rarity is a major factor that determines its price. The rarer the gemstone, the higher its price tag.
Shopping for these precious stones for your collection tends to be confusing as prices may vary from various pieces of jewelry and stones, especially when they appear to be similar. Before spending a fortune, know what you’re getting yourself into – is it natural, genuine, synthetic, simulated or treated?
Now, without further ado, let’s jump ahead to the top ten list of most expensive gemstones in the world:
1. BLUE DIAMOND – $3.93 MILLION PER CARAT
The most expensive gemstones in the world are colored diamonds. Not only are they rare, but they are also known to have a spectacular brilliance and are the hardest substance found on earth. Out of all other gemstones, they are arguably the most popular among people; and also the most advertised and romanticized. Its wide spectrum of colors includes black, blue, champagne, chocolate/brown, cognac, green, pink, red and yellow. Its value is at an entirely different level that costs a fortune.
2. MUSGRAVITE – $35,000 PER CARAT
Nearing the top of the list is Musgravite, an extremely rare gemstone in the taaffeite family. The mineral was first discovered at the Musgrave Range (thus its name) in South Australia. It has shown up in other areas such as Antarctica, Greenland, and Madagascar but in highly limited quantities. The first sizable gem-quality Musgravite specimen was found in 1993. It was the first one that is large and pure enough to be cut and shaped. As of 2005, there are only 8 known specimens of this stone to exist.
3. JADEITE – $20,000 PER CARAT
Jadeite is jade’s most expensive, beautiful, and rarest variety. While it can be found in many colors, its association with the rich-emerald color of “imperial jade” continues to be highly valued. The finest stones in this color can be found in Myanmar. The translucent material is premium priced while colors such as mauve, lavender, and apple green are also popular among buyers. In the Chinese, Maori, and Meso-American cultures, it is a huge part of their historical weapons, jewelry, carving, religious and medicinal purposes. It is even valued more than gold by the Aztecs, Mayas, and Olmecs.
4. ALEXANDRITE – $12,000 PER CARAT
Alexandrite is very rare (and very hard to acquire) gemstone variety. It is popular for its remarkable optical properties: it undergoes dramatic color shifts depending on the lighting condition. This is caused by the rare combination of minerals including chromium, iron, and titanium. It is strongly pleochroic which means it changes color as you rotate it in your hand. But furthermore, it also changes colors independently of your viewing angle under an artificial light source. It is greenish-blue under natural light and then becomes reddish-purple in soft, incandescent light. Alexandrite was discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountains during the 1830s and named by Count Lev Alekseevich Perovskii in honor of Alexander II, the then-future Czar of Russia, in 1834.
5. RED BERYL – $10,000 PER CARAT
Red beryl (also known as bixbite, “scarlet emerald” and “red emerald) is an extremely rare type of beryl with a raspberry pink to almost purplish-red color. Despite its name, it is not emerald but it’s an entirely different gemstone. It was first discovered in 1904 by Maynard Bixby. Meanwhile, its gem-quality stones can only be found in one site – the Wah Wah Mountains in Utah. It is so rare that rubies, which are also rare gemstones, are said to be 8,000 times more plentiful than red beryl. With that, any clarity and color grade in any size piece of this stone can easily land a ready buyer. Most of its fine crystal specimens are also guarded and never faceted by mineral collectors.
6. PADPARADSCHA SAPPHIRE – $8,000 PER CARAT
Padparadscha (pronounced pad-pah-raj-ah) sapphire, the world’s rarest sapphire, has a beautiful pinkish-orange color that exhibits the mixture of the hues of ruby and yellow sapphire. Its name is derived from the Sanskrit/Singhalese word for “aquatic lotus blossom” due to its color. Most of these stones are mined from Sri Lanka but they can also be found in Madagascar and Tanzania. The finer ones, however, are mostly found in Sri Lanka as the ones in Madagascar are pinker which makes it have a lower price.
7. BENITOITE – $3,800 PER CARAT
Considered as one of the most beautiful gems, Benitoite has a striking blue body color that has a dispersion higher than a diamond. As its name, it was discovered by the headwaters in San Benito River in San Benito County, California where it’s now declared as its state gem. While it has high dispersion, its intense blue color can mask it. Hence, admirers may have to choose between letting go of its dispersive display for the stone’s darker blue color or opting for a lighter one with more evident dispersion. Furthermore, it looks fascinating under UV light where it fluoresces its glowing blue chalk color.
8. BLACK OPAL – $3,500 PER CARAT
Opal gemstones have a different evaluation process than other gemstones with each one of them having their own distinct individuality. Compared to other opals, black (with body tones from N1 to N4) are considered rarest and most popular. Its body has a black color with a firey pattern that looks spectacular in contrast to the dark background. The majority of the supply around the world came from Lightning Ridge in New South Wales, Australia.
9. DEMANTOID GARNET – $3,300 PER CARAT
Demantoid is a green gemstone that has a “diamond-like” adamantine luster. Fascinatingly, its brilliance and dispersion actually exceed that of a diamond’s. It’s golden-colored “horsetails” that include cat’s eye gems is one of its identifying characteristics. It was identified as a variety of andradite by the mineralogist Nils Gustaf Nordenskiöld during the 19th century in Russia which is long known to be a sole source of the rarest garnets. While new sources have been discovered, demantoid remains to be very rare. It is also difficult to look for a demantoid larger than 10 carats as these stones are typically small in size. With the low supply, they are only usually seen on antique jewelry pieces.
10. TAAFFEITE – $2,500 PER CARAT
Taaffeite is not very familiar to many due to how rare it is. In fact, it is so scarce that it’s considered to be a million times rarer than a diamond. It was discovered by gemologist Richard Taaffe in 1945 in a jeweler’s shop in Dublin, Ireland. Prior to his discovery, it was misidentified as spinel until he noticed some inconsistencies, such as the gem refracting light differently compared to the spinel. It is known to only be found in two locations – Tanzania and Sri Lanka – and some of them are not even suitable for faceting which makes its supply even more limited. The light violet, almost clear gemstone is the only one that has been initially identified from a faceted stone.