Top 20 most expensive and rarest gemstones in the world
The gemstone world is a tapestry of varied minerals, some ubiquitous, others exceedingly scarce. Rarity in gemstones often stems from limited geographical availability and quality constraints, making jewelry-quality stones a rarity. The value of these stones is influenced by their scarcity and desirability, with rarer stones often commanding higher prices.
Understanding the rarest gemstones provides insight into unique minerals and crystals and their potential market value.
What Is the Rarest Gemstone?
It's difficult to order gemstones by rarity because any stone could have undiscovered sources, altering its overall rarity. As a result, we may never know the rarest valuable gemstones in the world simply because there could always be a source that hasn't been found yet.
However, that doesn't mean we can't determine which qualifies as rare gemstones. That's simply a matter of supply. If the supply is far lower than what you find with other stones, that makes it a rare gem.
Why are Some Gemstones Rarer than Others?
Rarity in gemstones is primarily a function of limited supply. If a stone is significantly less abundant than others, it qualifies as a rare stone. However, the potential for undiscovered sources adds a layer of uncertainty in definitively ranking the rarest gemstone.
Get to Know The World's Rarest Gemstones
Initially discovered in Myanmar in 1951, Painite was once considered the rarest mineral on Earth. For decades, only a couple of specimens were known to exist.
Even with more recent discoveries, only about 1,000 pieces have been unearthed, and many are unsuitable for cutting. Painite's deep red to brownish-red hue and rarity make it highly valuable, with prices reaching up to $60,000 per carat for top-quality stones.
One of June's birthstones, this chrysoberyl variant, discovered in Russia's Ural Mountains in 1830, is famed for its remarkable colour-changing properties, appearing bluish-green in daylight and reddish-purple under incandescent light. The original Russian sources have been nearly depleted, making Alexandrite from this region particularly valuable. Prices for fine-quality Alexandrite can exceed $15,000 per carat, with Russian-origin stones often commanding higher premiums.
3. Red Beryl (Bixbite)
Red Beryl is one of the rarest gemstones, discovered in Utah's Wah Wah Mountains in 1904. Only about 5% of the mined stones are of gem quality, with most crystals being too small to cut. The stone's vibrant red to raspberry-pink colour is due to manganese impurities. High-quality Red Beryl can fetch upwards of $10,000 per carat.
This rare blue gemstone was discovered near the San Benito River in California in 1907. Initially mistaken for sapphire, it was later identified as a new mineral.
The mine where Benitoite was found was closed in the mid-2000s, making this gem even rarer. Prices for Benitoite can range from $3,000 to $4,000 per carat for stones over one carat.
This blue-to-violet stone is often heat-treated to enhance its colour. Tanzanite is found only in a small area in Tanzania, and the supply is expected to deplete in the next few decades. Prices for Tanzanite can reach up to $1,200 per carat for high-quality stones.
First found in southern Madagascar in 1902, Grandidierite is a blue-green mineral with pleochroic qualities, showing different colours when viewed from different angles.
It's a hard, durable stone, making it suitable for jewelry. Gem-quality Grandidierite is extremely rare, with prices reaching over $20,000 per carat for the finest specimens.
Discovered by gemologist Richard Taaffe in 1945, this light mauve gem was initially mistaken for spinel. Its primary sources are Sri Lanka and Tanzania.
Taaffeite is known for being one of the few stones that display pleochroism. Due to its rarity, Taaffeite can command prices of up to $2,500 per carat.
Jadeite is one of two minerals that are often referred to as "jade" (the other being Nephrite). Jadeite is more valuable and comes in a variety of colours including green, lavender, yellow, and orange-red.
It's particularly valued in Asian cultures. The finest quality, translucent, emerald-green Jadeite, known as "Imperial Jade," can fetch upwards of $30,000 per carat.
This rare gemstone was first discovered in Sri Lanka, ranging in colour from green to blue to black. Its extreme rarity and unique coloration make it highly sought after by collectors. Serendibite can command prices as high as $18,000 per carat.
10. Demantoid Garnet
This green variety of andradite garnet, first discovered in Russia's Ural Mountains, is known for its fire and brilliance. The most valuable Demantoid Garnet contains horsetail inclusions and can fetch up to $10,000 per carat.
This rare aluminum borate mineral was first discovered in Siberia and is named after Russian mineralogist Pavel Jeremejev. It is typically colourless but can be bright blue color and also be found in pale yellow or blue-green. Jeremejevite can be valued at up to $2,000 per carat.
Initially discovered in the Musgrave Ranges of Australia, Musgravite is a rare gemstone with a smoky colour range. It's similar to Taaffeite in composition. Due to its rarity and demand factor, Musgravite can command prices of up to $35,000 per carat.
14. Blue Garnet
This rare garnet variant changes colour from blue-green in daylight to purplish-red under incandescent light. Discovered in Madagascar, Blue Garnet is one of the most unusual and rare garnets. Prices for Blue Garnet can exceed $1,500 per carat.
Hibonite is a rare and intriguing gemstone, primarily known for its deep black or brownish-black colour. It belongs to the group of calcium aluminum oxides and was first discovered in Madagascar. The gemstone is named after the French geologist Paul Hibon, who first identified it. Hibonite's unique coloration and rarity make it a prized specimen for collectors and gem enthusiasts.
Geologically, hibonite is one of the earliest minerals to form in the cooling process of magma, making it a significant mineral for understanding the formation of the Earth's crust and the early solar system. It often occurs in meteorites and is associated with other high-temperature minerals, which adds to its scientific interest. Despite its fascinating origins, hibonite is not commonly used in jewelry due to its rarity and the challenges associated with cutting and polishing this hard and brittle mineral.
In terms of physical properties, hibonite is relatively hard, scoring between 7.5 and 8 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. However, its brittleness can make it difficult to work with in a gemological context. Hibonite's deep colour and opacity mean it does not have the brilliance or fire of more transparent gemstones. Still, its unique appearance and rarity attract interest from collectors and gemstone enthusiasts. Due to its scarcity and specialized interest, hibonite remains a relatively unknown gemstone outside mineralogical and collector circles. Hibonite's rarity and unique formation process make it a collector's gem, with prices reaching up to $1,000 per carat.
Also known as "raspberry beryl," this rare pink-to-red mineral was first found in Madagascar. It's sometimes mistaken for red beryl or morganite but is chemically distinct. Pezzottaite can be valued at up to $500 per carat.
Uvarovite is a distinctive and rare member of the garnet family, renowned for its vibrant emerald-green colour. This unique hue is due to the presence of chromium in its composition. It typically forms as small, druzy, densely packed crystals, giving it a sparkling, textured surface. On the Mohs scale, uvarovite ranks between 6.5 and 7.5, indicating reasonable hardness and durability. However, its crystals are usually opaque to translucent and often too small and fragile for traditional jewelry settings.
This rare garnet is found in metamorphic rocks and is often associated with chromium-rich deposits. Key locations for Uvarovite include Russia, India, Poland, and Canada. Due to its small crystal size, uvarovite is rarely used in conventional jewelry like rings or necklaces. Instead, it's popular in pendants, earrings, and brooches, where its druzy form can be showcased, making the most of its glittering surface.
Mineral collectors highly value Uvarovite for its rarity and distinctive green colour. The value of uvarovite specimens varies based on the quality and size of the crystals. In crystal healing is associated with prosperity, abundance, and the heart chakra and is believed to foster contentment and peace. +
Uvarovite's value can reach up to $400 per carat.
Known for its high refractive index and deep red colour, Cuprite is a copper oxide mineral found in oxidized copper deposits. Its rarity and beauty make it a sought-after gemstone, with prices up to $500 per carat.
Euclase is a rare and captivating gemstone prized for its exceptional brilliance and striking colours. It belongs to the beryllium aluminum silicate mineral family and is known for its high refractive index comparable to that of diamonds. This quality gives Euclase its remarkable sparkle and fire, making it a coveted gem for collectors. Typically, euclase exhibits a range of colours, from colourless to shades of blue and green. The most sought-after variety is the deep blue euclase, which is rare and visually stunning.
Discovered in the late 18th century, euclase's name is derived from the Greek words "eu" and "klasis," meaning "good" and "break," respectively. This name reflects its perfect cleavage, a characteristic that makes it challenging to cut and polish. As a result, skilled lapidaries are required to handle euclase, and even then, the risk of fracturing the stone during the cutting process is high. This difficulty in processing contributes to its rarity and value in the gem market.
Euclase is found in several locations worldwide, including Brazil, Russia, Zimbabwe, and Colombia. However, high-quality specimens suitable for gemstone use are relatively scarce. The rarity of Euclase and its beauty make it a prized possession for gem enthusiasts and collectors. Regarding hardness, euclase ranks at about 7.5 on the Mohs scale, which is relatively hard but still requires careful handling to avoid scratching or chipping.
In metaphysical beliefs, euclase is associated with clarity of thought and creativity. It's believed to enhance intuition and insight, making it a popular choice for those seeking spiritual growth. Euclase can command prices of up to $1,000 per carat.
While not commonly known as a gemstone, Scolecite is a rare mineral forming in volcanic cavities, known for its crystal structure and its slender, needle-like crystals. It's typically white or colorless and is a collector's item rather than a traditional gemstone.
These gemstones are rare due to their unique geological formation processes, limited geographical distribution, and often challenging mining conditions. Their rarity makes them highly sought after by collectors and gem enthusiasts.
FAQs about Rare gemstones
What is the rarest gem in the world?
The title of the rarest gem in the world is often attributed to Painite. For many years, there were only a couple of known specimens of this deep-red to brownish-red gemstone. It was first discovered in Myanmar in the 1950s, and for decades, only a handful of Painite crystals were known to exist. Even with more recent discoveries, the total number of Painite specimens remains extremely low, solidifying its status as one of the rarest gems.
Are emeralds rarer than diamonds?
Yes, emeralds are generally rarer than diamonds. While diamonds are more commonly found in nature, high-quality emeralds without inclusions are exceptionally rare. The unique conditions required for emeralds to form make them less common than diamonds. Additionally, inclusions and flaws in most emeralds make finding a flawless emerald a rare occurrence.
Are rubies more rare than diamonds?
Rubies, especially high-quality ones, are rarer than diamonds. Like emeralds, the rarity of rubies increases significantly when considering those without inclusions or with a deep, vivid red colour (often referred to as "pigeon's blood" rubies). While diamonds are more abundant in nature, the rarity of fine rubies makes them more scarce and often more valuable.
What are the rarest minerals on earth?
Some of the rarest minerals on Earth include:
Painite: Once considered the rarest mineral in the world.
Fingerite: Known to exist only near the summit of Izalco Volcano in El Salvador.
Rhodium: A rare metal often found in platinum or nickel ores.
Red Beryl: Also known as Bixbite, located in specific regions of Utah, USA.
Alexandrite: A color-changing variety of chrysoberyl.
Grandidierite: A blue-green mineral from Madagascar.
Taaffeite: A rare gemstone often mistaken for spinel.
Jadeite: A rare form of jade highly valued in certain cultures.
Serendibite: An extremely rare gem.
Poudretteite: Initially discovered in Quebec, Canada. These minerals are rare due to their unique formation processes, limited geographical distribution, and the specific conditions required for their formation.
Are opals more rare than diamonds?
Opals are not necessarily rarer than diamonds overall, but high-quality, precious opals with a full play of colour can be quite rare. The rarity of opals increases with the quality and uniqueness of the play of colour, the size, and the type of opal. For example, the Black Opal from Lightning Ridge in Australia is among the rarest and most sought-after opals. In general, while diamonds are more common, certain black opals can be rarer and more valuable than average diamonds.
What is Fingerite?
Fingerite is an extremely rare mineral, known for its scarcity and unique composition. It was named after mineralogist Larry Finger of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C. Here are some key points about Fingerite:
Chemical Composition: Fingerite is a complex mineral primarily composed of copper and vanadium, with its chemical formula being Cu^11O^2(VO^4). This composition makes it one of the most copper-rich minerals known.
Discovery and Location: This mineral is known to exist only in a very specific location – near the summit of the Izalco Volcano in El Salvador. The unique volcanic environment of Izalco is essential for the formation of Fingerite.
Formation Conditions: Fingerite forms under very specific conditions, including high temperatures and a fumarolic environment (an opening in or near a volcano through which hot sulphurous gases emerge). These conditions are rare, contributing to the mineral's rarity.
Appearance: It typically appears as small, dark red to orange crystals. The crystals are usually microscopic and are found in volcanic fumaroles.
Rarity and Significance: Due to its limited location and the specific conditions required for its formation, Fingerite is considered one of the rarest minerals on Earth. Its rarity and unique composition make it of particular interest to mineralogists and collectors.
Practical Uses: As of now, Fingerite does not have any significant commercial or practical applications. Its value lies primarily in its rarity and importance for scientific study, particularly in understanding the geochemical processes in volcanic environments.
Fingerite's extreme rarity and the difficulty in accessing its natural habitat (the hazardous terrain of an active volcano) make it a mineral that few will ever encounter or study in person.