Did You Know?Colored diamonds are extremely rare and are called fancies. Some of the most famous fancies are the Hope Diamond, the Moussaieff Red, the Heart of Eternity, and the Pumpkin Diamond, among others.
The moment we hear the word 'gemstones', we conjure up images of beautiful stones with sparkling surfaces, that come in colors of the rainbow. Some of the more common ones that we know are sapphires, rubies, emeralds, etc. However, there are many gemstones that very few know of, yet they are beautiful and of great value.
These stones are considered rare because they are found only in certain regions of the world, and more often than not, it is extremely difficult to find a perfect specimen of these beauties. As a result, most of these stones come with a huge price tag that is close to thousands of dollars. This article gives you an insight into the wonderful world of gemstones that are the rarest in the world.
The Rarest Gemstones in the World
So, here we begin with the list. Note that the gems are listed in no particular order.
A diamond that is of a bright color, is known as a fancy. Fancies are much rarer than white diamonds, and constitute many of the world's most famous diamonds. The Hope Diamond, which is a fancy deep blue diamond, is one such example. Among all the colors that fancies come in, including yellow, blue, red, pink, purple, orange, brown, green, black, and gray, you're least likely to come across a red fancy, because it is the rarest. In fact, these are so rare that only 35 of them have been discovered till date!
Pronounced as ye-REM-ay-ev-ite, this aluminum borate mineral was discovered by Russian mineralogist Pavel Eremeev in Siberia in 1883. It is colorless, pale blue, or pale yellow-brown in color, and resembles aquamarine. The naturally occurring crystals of the mineral are obelisk-shaped, and the best quality gems are mined from Namibia. The best quality jeremejevite specimens are priced between USD1,500 and USD 2,000 per carat.
Originally named bixbite, in the honor of mineralogist Maynard Bixby who discovered the gem in Utah in 1904, it is now known as red beryl to avoid confusion with bixbyite, which is a different mineral named after the same person. Red beryl is a compound of aluminum, beryllium, silicon, and oxygen, and is known by other names such as red emerald and scarlet emerald. The red to red-purple color is due to the presence of traces of manganese. The Ruby Violet mine in the Wah Wah Mountains of Beaver County in Utah is the only site of commercial production of gem quality red beryl.
The presence of different trace metals imparts different colors to the mineral. For example, green beryl has traces of chromium or vanadium, while golden and aquamarine beryls get their color due to traces of iron. However, red beryl is the rarest, and is often deemed to be 8000 times rarer than rubies! These red beauties are priced at around USD 10,000 per carat for cut stones.
If you love opals, then head to Australia, because more than 95% of the world's fine opals are mined in this country. No wonder then, that opal is Australia's national gemstone! Among the different types of opals, black opals are the rarest, and are highly valued. They are mined in the Lightning Ridge area of New South Wales in South Australia, and in the states of Idaho and Nevada in the US. Black opals are solid black or dark gray, and absorb scattered white light to produce a brilliant display of colors. These rare gems are priced at around USD 2,000 per carat.
One of the rarest gemstones in the world, musgravite is named after the Musgrave Range in Central Australia where it was discovered in 1967. It is mainly composed of beryllium, aluminum, magnesium, and silicon. Musgravite appears similar to its close cousin taffeite, which is a rare gemstone in itself. However, musgravite is rarer, and the two can be easily distinguished with the use of green laser spectroscopy. Musgravite is also mined in small quantities in Greenland, Madagascar, and even Antarctica, but is not of gem quality.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) considers the gem "a rarity among the rare...". In fact, it is so rare that, as of 2005, only eight known specimens of the stone existed in the world! Gem quality musgravite is priced at around USD 6,000 per carat.
Painite was considered the rarest gemstone on Earth, because only two specimens of the mineral existed for decades after its discovery in 1951, in the Magok region of Myanmar, by British mineralogist Arthur Charles Davy Pain. Named after the man who discovered it, painite is a hexagonal crystal that is composed of aluminum, calcium, zirconium, boron, and oxygen, in addition to traces of iron, which impart a reddish-brown to orange-red hue to the gem. It is strongly pleochroic, which means it emits different colors when viewed from different angles. It appears green under short wave UV light. Today, when the mineral is not considered the rarest anymore, you can buy faceted painite crystals for around USD 200 per carat.
A bluish-green stone, grandidierite is primarily mined in Madagascar. However, the first and only faceted specimen of this stone was found in Sri Lanka, and was initially mistaken for serendibite. This rare gemstone is trichroic, which means it emits three different colors, namely green, blue, and white, when viewed from different angles. It was discovered by the French explorer Alfred Grandidier, and was named after him. Gem quality grandidierite costs more than USD 20,000 per carat.
Serendibite derives its name from Serendib, which was the erstwhile name of Sri Lanka where it was discovered by rare stone specialist G.P. Gunasekera. The gemstone is characterized by its cyan color, and a very complex chemical formula that includes aluminum, calcium, boron, silicon, magnesium, and oxygen. This gem mineral is so rare that only three faceted specimens are known to exist, and each one of them weighs less than 1 carat. Of the three specimens that weigh 0.35, 0.55, and 0.56 carats, the first two were discovered by Gunasekera. The price of the stone is around USD 1.8 to 2 million per carat.
Poudretteite is a pink mineral that was first discovered during the 1960s in a quarry near Mont Saint-Hilaire in Quebec, Canada. It was named after the Poudrette family who were the owners and operators of the quarry. In the year 2000, many small specimens of the stone were discovered in Myanmar, including the first gem-quality specimen. Poudretteite is a very soft stone and easily suffers scratches, and hence, is not suitable for use in rings. However, it can be used in delicate pieces of jewelry, such as pendants and brooches. The price of a carat of poudretteite is around USD 3000.
Tanzanite derives its name from Tanzania, the African nation which is the only source of the mineral in the world. While the gem mineral occurs in nature in different shades of blue, ranging from pale blue to dark violet-blue, it is the dark-colored gems that fetch a bigger price. Tanzanite is pleochroic, and appears to change colors when viewed from different angles. It is priced at around USD 1000 per carat.
Jadeite is another rare mineral that is priced at around USD 5,000 per carat, and is mined in Guatemala and California. Thus, we see that there are many gems out there that we've probably never even heard of! So, have you ever come across any of them?