When we talk about precious gemstones, what are the first things that pop to mind? Most likely diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, right? But what if there are gemstones rarer and even more precious than a diamond?
Do we have your attention? Excellent! Keep reading to learn about the 20 rarest gemstones in the world!
20 Rarest Gemstones In The World
There are roughly 200 varieties of natural gemstones in the world today. It may surprise you to know that there are gemstones that are so rare, most people have never even heard of them!
Many collectors purchase these rare gems and create jewelry, but their rarity and impossible price make them unavailable to the average customer.
Want to know more? So did we! We did a bit of research and compiled a list, in no particular order, of the 20 rarest gemstones in the world!
Jadeite is not to be confused with its common counterpart, jade. While jade can be found almost anywhere, jadeite is extremely valued and particularly scarce!
Shrouded in mystery and folklore, this prized stone shines in Chinese, Mayan, and Maori cultures. In 1997, a handful of jadeite beads, each no larger than five millimeters in diameter, sold for more than $9 million!
Tanzanite is a relatively recent discovery and found in only one place on Earth. According to legend, in 1967, a Masai tribesman stumbled upon a cluster of highly transparent, intense violet-to-blue crystals poking out of the earth in a northern area of Tanzania. Tiffany & Company recognized the potential in this precious gem and named it in honor of its homeland.
3. Black Opal
Black and white opals come from the same family, but black opals are much rarer. This is because they come exclusively from Lightning Ridge in New South Wales, Australia. Additionally, their dark coloring makes the rainbow Play of Color appear even more vibrant. “Aurora Australis” is one of the most valuable black opals of all time. Weighing 180 carats, this beauty appraised at $763,000 in 2005!
4. Red Diamond
While all diamonds are precious, red diamonds are in a league of their own. In fact, a red diamond is so rare, only 20 to 30 gem-quality specimens exist in the world! The hues can vary in depth, ranging from a deep, oxblood red to a Valentine’s-day pink. One of the largest unmodified red diamonds ever discovered is the Moussaieff Red Diamond, which sold at auction for a whopping $8 million!
The delicately pink and extremely rare poudretteite was first discovered in Quebec, Canada in the 1960s. Poudretteite is so rare that clean gems over one carat are essentially folklore. There is one poudretteite specimen that weighs in at a shocking 9.41 carats that can only be viewed at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
Benitoite exclusively comes from a rural area of California. When its only commercial mine closed down in 2006, it became one of the rarest gemstones in the US. First discovered in 1907, benitoite has a deep-blue color that glows brightly when exposed to UV light. Large pieces of benitoite are extremely rare, and well-cut pieces over two carats can fetch upwards of $10,000 per carat!
7. Red Beryl
Red beryl is so rare, the Utah Geological Survey estimates one gem for every 150,000 diamonds! With deposits exclusively in Mexico, Utah, and New Mexico, most Red Beryl’s are less than one carat. Ultimately, the gem is too small for faceting and cutting into jewelry.
Would you believe that the discovery of Taaffeite was a complete accident? Austrian-Irish gemologist Count Edward Charles Richard Taaffe purchased a box of what he thought were cheap spinels. Upon closer inspection, he noticed one of the pieces was a richer color than the others and didn’t reflect light in the same way. He sent it away for inspection and learned that he owned a completely unknown gemstone! After this incident, fellow collectors inspected their inventory and found more specimens. To this day, it’s thought that less than 50 examples of taaffeite exist.
A single piece of painite was first discovered in 1951, and for many years it was the only specimen in existence. The British Museum in London houses this rare gem, which was thought to be the rarest in the world until more specimens were discovered in 2004! Still, the scarcity of this gem makes it one of the 20 rarest gemstones (and most expensive!) around. How expensive, you ask? One carat fetches over $60,000!
Discovered in 1830 in Russia’s Ural Mountains, alexandrites have been described as “emeralds by day, rubies by night” because of their remarkable color-changing abilities. Due to its chemical makeup, the stone can appear emerald green to peacock blue in the sunlight, but ruby red and deep purple under incandescent light. Named after Czar Alexander, it’s no wonder that the Russian aristocracy coveted these precious stones!
11. Paraiba Tourmaline
When paraiba tourmaline was discovered in Brazil in the 1980s, its brightly saturated, neon, blue-green hues stunned the world of gemstone collectors and jewelers. There’s only one stone of this rare jewel for every 10,000 diamonds. Now that’s rare!
Found only in the Dominican Republic, this rare gem was thought to come from the lost continent of Atlantis! Its colors range from deep, greenish-blue to gray with white speckles appearing in a variety of patterns. Larimar received its name from the words “Lari,” from the name Larissa, and “mar,” the Spanish word for sea. Larissa is the daughter of Miguel Mendez, who rediscovered this stone in 1974.
Discovered in the Rocky Mountains, this gem is much rarer than a diamond. The shells of marine mollusks over 65 million years old make this rare gemstone. One specimen can contain every color of the rainbow in bright, iridescent flashes. Talk about sparkle! The more colors an ammolite specimen has, the more valuable it is.
14. Kashmir Sapphire
Soft, velvety, saturated blue hues magnetize people to Kashmir sapphires. The Himalayan mines that once produced these stunning gemstones ran dry in the 1930s, which made these already rare treasures even more scarce! While few people will ever own a Kashmir sapphire, many museums have pieces on display.
15. Burma Ruby
Burma rubies set the gemstone standard for quality, color, and rarity. Their color is “pigeon blood” because the geological conditions that form them provide their vivid red hue. The Graff Ruby, an 8.62 ct. gem sold for $8,600,410 at Sotheby’s Geneva in 2015, setting a world auction record for a ruby!
Serendibite, named after “Serendib”, is the old Arabic name for Sri Lanka, where the mineral was found. Made up of tubular crystals that range from blue-green, to deep blue, and even sometimes yellow, this gemstone is truly one of a kind. Before 2005, only three serendibite gems were thought to exist — each from Sri Lanka. The first two were purchased by a specialist for $14,000.00 per carat!
Musgravite is one of the top five rarest gemstones in the world. Named after the Musgrave Ranges in Australia where it was first discovered, only eight specimens have been identified! Musgravite has a deep, mysterious, dark grey color that can sometimes look richly purple in the right lighting.
Jeremejevite is one of the 20 rarest gemstones, most expensive, and most difficult to pronounce gemstones. First found at Mt. Soktuj in Russia, jeremejevite’s deep, royal blue color would be stunning in any jewelry setting, but due to its rarity, it’s almost never owned by private collectors or commercial retailers.
French mineralogist, Alfred Lacroix, first discovered specimens of Grandidierite in Madagascar in the first years of the 20th century.
Since then, Namibia, Sri Lanka, and Malawi have produced more of this rare gem. With its oceanic, blue-green color, grandidierite is considered one of the top ten rarest gemstones in the world.
20. Royal Demantoid
Ready for our last entry of the 20 rarest gemstones in the world? This slot goes to Royal dementoid. While this gem may resemble emeralds, it’s part of the garnet family! Discovered in late 19th century Russia, they range in color from a deep green to yellow. Royal demantoid were highly sought after by royal families all over the world. Famous Russian jeweler, Peter Carl Fabergé, frequently used them often in his striking creations.
There you have it! Did you enjoy this list of the 20 rarest gemstones in the world? Even if most of us can’t pick one up, we can revel in the glorious mark they’ve left on gemstone history.
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