Diamonds are forever.
A diamond in the rough.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
As gemstones go, diamonds seem to get all of the attention.
Among the most concentrated allotropes of pure carbon, diamonds are often regarded as the strongest known mineral on Earth.
In fact, there are several other rare and beautiful gemstones that also fetch a pretty penny.
Before we get to those, what exactly makes a gemstone a gemstone?
In simple terms, a gemstone is a mineral or organic material (such as pearl or amber) that is cut and polished to make jewelry.
There are also synthetic gemstones that have been created in a laboratory to mimic natural stones; however, natural gem-quality stones are considered more valuable because they are rarer and take longer to form.
What are the most expensive gemstones?
Get ready for a few tongue twisters. The following list includes 12 of the rarest and most expensive gemstones in the world, many of which you will probably never see in your lifetime. If you do, consider yourself lucky!
This color-changing beauty was discovered in 1830 in the Ural Mountains in Russia and is said to be named for Czar Alexander II. Valued at $12,000 per carat to up $70,000 per carat for larger specimens, it is considered among the rarest of all colored gemstones.
The official state gemstone of California, benitoite was discovered originally near the source of the San Benito River in the Golden State. Valued at around $4,000 per carat, its vivid blue color makes a stunning addition to any jewelry collection.
Despite its name, black opal is a deep blue or green color, and it is considered the most valuable among opal varieties. Fetching nearly $10,000 per carat, black opals are mined primarily in New South Wales, Australia but have also been discovered in nearby Mintabie.
Blue-green grandidierite often resembles jade with its milky translucency, but at $20,000 per carat there is no mistaking the value of this stunning gemstone. First discovered in Madagascar, it is often made into cabochons.
Considered the purest, rarest, and most vivid gemstone in the jade family, jadeite comes in a variety of hues, with emerald green (called imperial jade) being the most coveted. According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), three important qualities set jadeite apart from jade: color, transparency and texture. A single carat can sell for between $20,000 and $3 million.
Discovered in 1883 in Siberia and named after Russian mineralogist Pavel Jeremejev, Jeremejevite (pronounced yer-uh-MAY-yeh-vite or yer-uh-may-YEHV-ite) goes for about $1,500 to $2,000 per carat and ranges in color from clear to pale pastels to deep blue. Fun fact: The stone is piezoelectric, which means it generates an electric charge when placed under pressure.
According to the National Gem Lab, faceted and certified musgravites are incredibly rare, which may explain why they go for $6,000 to $35,000 per carat. Often mistaken for its cousin Taaffeite (and vice versa—see below), musgravite can range in hue from almost colorless to grayish purple, olive green or a dark greenish blue.
A single, deep-red painite crystal was discovered in Myanmar (formerly Burma) in 1957 by Arthur C.D. Paine, after which only two more crystals were found until 2001. Since then, more painite has been found—but only in Myanmar, and much of it is not facetable. No wonder it sells for $50,000 to $60,000 per carat.
Named for the Poudrette family who owned the quarry in Canada where poudretteite was first discovered, this pretty pink (though sometimes violet) mineral is valued at $3,000 per carat when considered gem quality. A 9.41 carat poudretteite—thought to be the largest in existence—was gifted to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in 2007 and is part of their national gem and mineral collection.
So far, the only gem-quality red beryl (most of it very small specimens) has come out of the United States—specifically Utah—but mines can also be found in Mexico and New Mexico. Often referred to as a red emerald, red beryl is coveted for its deep purplish red hue and valued at $10,000 per carat.
Mined primarily in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, some faceted Serendibite gemstones are so dark they appear black. However, a closer look reveals a deep green or blue-violet hue. Its name comes from an Arabic word (serendib) for Ceylon, now modern-day Sri Lanka. Cut stones can sell for up to $2 million per carat.
Though sometimes mistaken for musgravite, taaffeite has a unique back story: It is the only mineral whose discovery was made after becoming a cut gemstone. Austrian gemologist Richard Taaffe bought the stone from a dealer in Ireland but soon realized it had been labeled incorrectly (as spinel) and was actually a completely new mineral. Extremely rare, taaffeite is valued at $2,500 per carat.
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