10 Super Expensive Gemstones

10 Super Expensive Gemstones and Diamonds

Many people know that a large, flawless, perfectly colorless diamond is expensive, but there are gems that are even more expensive. Indeed, as of 2019 the world’s most expensive gemstone was a blue diamond that went for almost $4 million a carat. The previous record holder was a pink diamond that set the buyer back a mere $1.2 million a carat. But if such costs leave a person breathless, they shouldn’t worry: the next eight gems don’t come close. Here are the costs of some examples of gems per carat weight:

  • Musgravite: $35,000
  • Jadeite: $20,000
  • Alexandrite: $12,000
  • Red beryl: $10,000
  • Padparadscha sapphire: $8000
  • Benitoite: $3800
  • Black opal: $3500
  • Demantoid garnet: $3300
  • Taaffeite: $2500

A person might wonder why these gems, which are, after all, rocks, have come to be so pricey. They are pricey because they are beautiful and as rare as they are beautiful, and a large, rare, beautiful gemstone costs top dollar. They have been endowed with mystical powers and linked to gods and goddesses. Some gems are thought to be cursed while others are thought to bring luck. In ancient times, only kings and queens were allowed to wear them or even possess them. One of the reasons that Queen Elizabeth II has such a hold on the world’s imagination has to be the contents of her many boxes of jewelry.

The way a gemstone is cut and polished also affects how much it costs. A cut that is too deep or too shallow does not allow a translucent gem to refract light the way it should. A bad cut can make an opaque gem such as jadeite vulnerable to damage.

Buying a Gem

Because their rarity and quality differs, gemstones have different price ranges even if they are in the same family. Prices also depend on whether the stone is natural or synthetic or if it’s been treated. A natural stone has come right out of nature without any alteration. A synthetic stone is made in a lab, and lower quality stones are sometimes treated to make them more attractive. For example, lower quality rubies and sapphires are heated to enhance their color. Nearly all emeralds are oiled, and they often have flaws which are filled in with resin. A person who is in the market for a beautiful quality gem or loose diamonds needs to do some research to find the gemstone’s provenance. Quality diamonds come with certificates from reputable companies such as the Gemologic Institute of America. In other cases, the buyer needs to ask the jeweler about the stone they wish to buy and hope the jeweler is trustworthy.

Now, here’s a list of the top 10 most expensive gems on earth:

1. Taaffeite
An exceeding rare red-violet gem, Taaffeite is said to be a million times scarcer than diamond. It is a very new discovery, at least when it comes to gems. It was found by accident in 1945 in a Dublin jewelry store. The jeweler, Richard Taaffe, at first thought was a spinel until he took a good look at it. Taaffeite is found only in Sri Lanka and Tanzania, and specimens that are suitable for being faceted are truly rare. This is true even as the stone rates 8 to 8.5 on the Mohs Hardness scale, which is almost as hard as corundum.
2. Fancy Diamonds
The Oppenheimer Blue diamond is what is known as a fancy diamond. These are colored diamonds, and a very high quality one is worth more than a white diamond of similar size and quality. The designation of the Oppenheimer Blue is vivid blue. It weighs 14.62 carats and so was sold for $57.5 million at auction. The pink diamond, called the Pink Star, sold for more money but that was because it weighed more. This diamond weighed 59.6 carats and was sold for $71.2 million.

3. Jadeite
There are two main types of jade: jadeite and nephrite. Jadeite is rarer and more beautiful than nephrite. It comes in many colors, including lavender, but it is associated with that lush shade of green called imperial jade. The best examples of imperial jade colored jadeite come from Myanmar, but jadeite is found in many places around the world, including Mexico and China. Stronger than steel, jadeite was used to make weapons as well as jewelry and figurines. It is said to bring good luck and good health to its owners.

4. Alexandrite
Alexandrite was named after Alexander II while he was still heir to the Russian Imperial throne in 1834. It is a rare type of chrysoberyl and changes color throughout the day. In the daylight, it is bright green. At night, it is ruby red. Happily, green and red were the colors of the Russian imperial family. The change in color is due to chromic oxide. Besides the Ural Mountains, Alexandrite is found in Brazil, Tanzania ad Mozambique.

5. Red Beryl
This gem is also known as bixbite, or red emerald and is in the same family as the green gem. Named after Maynard Bixby, who discovered it in 1904, it is the rarest of the beryls and is only found in three places in the United States. They are famously, the Wah Wah and Thomas Mountains in Utah and the Black Mountains of New Mexico. Red beryl is so rare that ruby, which is not exactly abundant, is 8000 times more plentiful. Interestingly, most people who own red beryl do not have it faceted, even though it is almost as hard as a ruby and is considerably harder than its cousin the emerald.

6. Padparadscha Sapphire
Though people associate sapphires with the color blue, a sapphire can be any color but red. When it’s red, it’s a ruby. The padparadscha sapphire is a fiery pink-orange, its color caused by inclusions of iron, chromium and vanadium. Its name comes from the Sinhalese words for lotus blossom color. Most padparadscha sapphires come from Sri Lanka, but they are also found in Vietnam, Tanzania and Madagascar. Extremely rare, it is rarely found in weights above 2 carats. This causes lapidists to cut the sapphire in unusual ways. This lets it keep as much material as possible.

7. Benitoite
This rare gem is prized for its nearly iridescent blue color. It gets its name because it was discovered near the headwaters of the San Benito River in California, and it’s now the state gem. It has a higher dispersion of light than a diamond, but this is sometimes hidden by its amazing blue color. This presents a dilemma for people who savor the richness of benitoite’s color but also want it to really sparkle. Though it can be polished and worn as a jewel, benitoite is most often a collector’s gem.

8. Black Opal
The opal is different from other gems because it is largely made out of hydrated silica. It also has no crystal structure, but the tiny spheres of silica inside the stone refract light in a way that creates a mesmerizing play of color, or fire over the body of the gem. The black opal is the rarest, and it is as popular as it is rare. A very fine specimen can cost far more than a diamond. It has a black body whose fire ripples over it in a truly spectacular way. Opal is a soft stone that can dry out and crack and can be damaged if it’s not handled with care. It can still be cut and faceted and worn as jewelry. Some people think that opals are unlucky.

9. Demantoid Garnet
Plain old red garnet is fairly common, but a demantoid garnet is one of the rarest and most valuable of all gemstones. Its fire is more fierce than that of a diamond, and its green color can rival that of the emerald. Indeed, its name comes from the Dutch for diamond. Like Alexandrite, it was first discovered in the Ural mountains in 1868 and was notable because the stones had horsetail shaped inclusions made by byssolite fibers. The Russian royal family is said to have been especially fond of demantoid garnet, and the stones are often cut into brilliants or cushions. Like Benitoite, the buyer may have to choose between a rich green color and the sparkle.

10. Musgravite
Musgravite is an extremely rare jewel that was discovered in the Musgrave Range of South Australia. More examples have been found in Madagascar, Greenland and even Antarctica, but they were too small, scattered and not gem-quality. The first musgravite jewel that was considered gem-quality was found only in 1993, and only eight of these types of gem-quality stones have been found since. Musgravite is often confused with taaffeite, an equally rare jewel.