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12 of the Rarest Gemstones in the World

12 of the Rarest Gemstones in the World

There are hundreds of kinds of gemstones in the world. Some are widely available, and others are incredibly hard to come by. For example, a rare gemstone may only be found in a single area, limiting the amount that can be mined. Some stones are plagued with quality issues, making any of the jewelry-quality versions highly uncommon.

A portion of a stone's value is derived from desirability. Certain gems are simply more popular, and that alone can drive pricing. However, gemstone rarity does impact a stone's value. The rarer the stone, the more it is often worth, even if it isn't widely known or highly sought after.

However, by understanding which are the rarest gemstones, you not only get a glimpse at amazing minerals and crystals, but you can also anticipate how much they may cost if you want to own one.

What Is the Rarest Gemstone?

It's a bit difficult to order gemstones by rarity, mainly because there could be undiscovered sources of any stone, altering how rare it is overall. As a result, we may never know for sure what the rarest gem in the world is, simply because there could always be a source that simply hasn't been found yet.

However, that doesn't mean we can't determine which qualify 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.

12 of the Rarest Gemstones in the World

Here, in no particular order, is a look at 12 of the rarest gemstones in the world.

1. Tanzanite

Tanzanite rare gemstone

By Didier Descouens - Own work, CC BY 3.0 

A rare gem that's widely known, Tanzanite began turning heads soon after it was discovered in 1967. Tiffany & Co. learned about the gem and decided to feature it in some pieces, giving the stone a degree of prominence and driving demand.

While Tanzanite is known for its blue-to-violet coloring, it's more commonly a reddish-brown in its natural state. The magnificent color this rare stone is known for is more often than not the result of a heat treatment. However, there are some naturally blue versions available, and those fetch a pretty penny.

The only known source is in Tanzania's Merelani Hills. That site is expected to run dry at some point in the next couple of decades, which may make Tanzanite even harder to come by on the open market.

2. Benitoite

Benitoite rare gemstones

By Didier Descouens - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Another blue-to-purple stone, Benitoite was found in 1907 in California, actually becoming the state's gem in 1985. At first, it was mistaken for a sapphire due to the coloring. However, it was analyzed and determined to be a previously undiscovered mineral.

The gem is incredibly scarce, so much so that most people will never see one in their lifetime. Additionally, the mine where Benitoite was found shut down in the mid-2000s, almost guaranteeing that the stone will remain one of the rarest gemstones in the world permanently.

3. Poudretteite

Poudretteite rare gemstone

Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0 / CC BY-SA 

While Poudretteite is rare overall, gem-quality versions are almost non-existent. While it was initially discovered in Canada in the 1960s, it wasn't until another source in Myanmar (Burma) was explored in 2000 that a high-quality stone was even found.

That particular gem from Myanmar came in at 9.41 carats and may be the largest faceted Poudretteite stone in existence. Currently, that piece of Poudretteite resides in the National Gem Collection in the Smithsonian Museum.

4. Black Opal

Rare Black Opal

By James St. John - Black opal (Stayish Mine, Wollo Province, Ethiopia) 7, CC BY 2.0, 

While white or cream-colored opals are reasonably accessible, Black Opals aren't. Nearly all of them are mined from a single area, Lightning Ridge in New South Wales, Australia.

Generally, stones with darker backgrounds and brighter inclusions are viewed as the most valuable. It's like seeing a vibrant rainbow against a pitch-black night sky, making the stones particularly striking.

5. Red Beryl

Red Beryl

By Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, 

Found in Utah in 1904, only about 5 percent of Red Beryl stones are gem-quality. While pure beryl is actually transparent, impurities can give it a color. This version of the stone comes in a range of hues, including vibrant red to raspberry pink, thanks to the presence of manganese.

Along with Utah, Red Beryl can be found in Mexico and New Mexico. However, most of the discovered stones are tiny, measuring only a few millimeters. As a result, usable Red Beryl is exceptionally rare and can be very valuable.

6. Alexandrite

Alexandrite

Photographed by David Weinberg for Alexandrite.net and released to the public domain.

One of June's birthstones, Alexandrite has stunning color-changing properties. Initially found in Russia in 1830, this chrysoberyl variant is incredibly sought after due to its shifting hues. It can look bluish-green in one light, but reddish-purple in different conditions. In fact, it is often described as an "emerald by day, ruby by night."

After just a few decades, the original mining area in Russia was virtually depleted. However, another primary source was found in Brazil, and a few other areas have smaller deposits. But, even with that discovery, Alexandrite remains a rare gem.

7. Paraiba Tourmaline

paraiba tourmaline

Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0 / CC BY-SA 

While tourmaline overall is relatively common, Paraiba Tourmaline is a different story. Discovered in Brazil in 1987, this version of the stone has a unique turquoise coloring due to the presence of copper.

Now, there are tourmaline gems that have somewhat similar coloring. In the early 2000s, some stones that came from Mozambique and Nigeria had a hue that was close to what you find with Paraiba Tourmaline. However, some believe that the Paraiba Tourmaline stones are more striking.

8. Taaffeite

taaffeite

Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0 / CC BY-SA 

Taaffeite –a light mauve gem – was initially discovered by chance. Originally, an owner of a piece thought it was spinel. However, he noticed that a particular stone in his spinel collection didn't react to light as the others did. After analysis, it was determined to be a new gem.

Gem collectors actually worked together to figure out the stone's origin, which was found to be Sri Lanka. While there are also sources in Tanzania and China, it is believed that only a few dozen Taaffeite stones have been found.

9. Grandidierite

Grandidierite

By Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, 

First discussed in 1902, Grandidierite was originally found in Madagascar. It's a rare blue-green mineral, with pleochroic qualities. So far, gem-quality pieces have only been found in two areas: Madagascar and Sri Lanka.

Typically, Grandidierite is translucent. However, a few transparent pieces have emerged, and those are especially valuable.

It is an excellent jewelry stone. Grandidierite is highly durable and scratch-resistant, making it a great choice for rings and bracelets, for those who can find them.

10. Painite

Painite

By Strickja - Own work, Public Domain, 

Recognized as a new mineral in 1957 after being founded in 1951, Painite is a deep red stone only found in Myanmar. In the land of rare crystals, for a period, this may have been the rarest. Only one specimen existed for quite some time, and, before 2001, there were only three known examples.

While more have been found since only 1,000 or so of them may have ever been unearthed. Of those that were found, most couldn't be cut.

11. Jadeite

Purple Jadeite from Italy

By - Photos personnelles prises dans le cadre du GLAM au Museum d'Histoire Naturelle de Lille., CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Jadeite is one of two minerals that are often referred to as "jade." Along with the green versions that are most commonly envisioned when a person pictures jade, Jadeite also comes in blue, black, yellow, lavender, and an orange-red.

Jadeite is incredibly valued in the Chinese, Maori, and Mayan cultures, and China remains one of the dominant markets for this rare stone. Along with use in jewelry, Jadeite has also been featured in decorative items, musical instruments, and even weapons

12. Musgravite

Musgravite

By By DonGuennie (G-Empire The World Of Gems) - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

While Musgravite deposits have been found in Australia, Tanzania, Madagascar, and a few other locations, only ten gem-quality stones have been unearthed. Its color can range from a greenish to purplish gray, essentially giving it a smoky look.

While it has similarities to Taaffeite, its composition is unique. As a result, the two gems are considered separate.

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