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Beyond Diamonds, the Rarest Gemstones in the World

01 Dec 2020

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If you thought only diamonds were rare, think again. We are so attuned to the glitter and glamour of diamonds and their limited reach that we almost believe these diamonds are the rarest natural gems amongst all. Actually, today diamonds are expensive but no longer rare. Ask a student or anyone from India’s top Gems and Jewellery institute and am sure you will learn other rare stones do exist. Quintessentially, so rare that we have not even heard of their names. My learning is based on a beautiful conversation with few students who opened my mind to the understanding of what lies Beyond Diamonds, The Rarest Gemstones in the World.

What Makes A Gemstone Rare?

The word ‘rare’ or ‘rarity’ is derived from the Latin word ‘rarus’ meaning ‘far apart’ or ‘infrequently found’. It includes any item being ‘unusually good or remarkable’ that attract an attached value to it. According to American Gem Lab, out of 3000 registered mineral species that exist only 500 qualify as suitable to be termed as a gemstone. These include the better known gems like diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires. A rare gemstone, - Can exceed the price and value of commercial diamonds, - Is able to command the greatest desirability and highest prices, - Is often sourced by collectors and museum curators who are knowledgeable and on the lookout for them. - Like the four C’s of diamonds, is ruled by size and clarity, to impact the stone’s ranking.

Here are a few of the rarest gemstones in the world,

1. Painite

The Guinness Book of World Record called Painite the world's rarest gemstone mineral in 2005, since less than 25 known specimens existed at the time. However, since then, around 1000 stones have been identified that have been mined in Myanmar. On 9 March 2020, the Guinness Book of World Records verified the largest painite that weighs 213.52 carats, is owned by Dion and his family belonging to the Medici Collection LLC, Los Angeles, USA. The gemstone is named after the British mineralogist Arthur C. D. Pain who first discovered it in Myanmar in the 1950s. It is housed at the British Museum in London. The colors vary from brown to red and pink. Under UV light, it emits a fluorescent strong green color. Painite is also called a pleochroic gemstone, as it emits different hues depending on the angle it is viewed from. A one-carat Painite can fetch more than USD 60,000.

2. Red Diamond

The red diamond is among the 12 types of fancy diamonds but is far more difficult to find than its pink or blue counterparts. Since it is also difficult to find them in larger sizes even the small size of under 1 carat does qualify as an investment stone fit for investors and collectors. The largest and the internally flawless red diamond is the 5.11 carat Fancy Red Moussaieff Red Diamond, which was mined in Brazil. The red diamonds are mostly found in the vicinity of pink diamonds that are mined in Western Australia (Kimberley Mines), Brazil, and Russia. The first red diamond was acquired in 1956 by a Montana rancher named Warren Hancock, who later sold it for a record setting USD 927,000 at auction in 1987. The other well-known red diamonds are 5.05 carats Kazanjian Red Diamond, 5.03 carats DeYoung Red Diamond, and 2.11 carats Everglow.

3. Taaffeite

Taaffeite is a transparent to translucent crystal resembling a spinel. A taaffeite can come in lilac, violet, mauve, red, brown, bluish green, grey, and even colourless. The Austrian-Irish gemmologist Count Richard Taaffe accidently found the first sample, a cut and polished gem, in October 1945 in a box of spinels he bought from a jeweler in Dublin, Ireland. Later when he sent the gem to the Laboratory of the London Chamber of Commerce for testing, they confirmed it was a new species and promptly named it after the gemmologist. Since then a few stones have been traced back to Sri Lanka, southern Tanzania and China. In 2018, a lavender kite-shaped taaffeite weighing 5.34 carats sold for USD 20,000. It is believed less than 50 of taaffeite exist in the world giving it the title of rare gemstones.

4. Red Beryl

The Red Beryl requiring beryllium and magnesium to form, this geochemical combination is extremely hard to occur. Red Beryl is only found in the Wah Wah Mountains of Utah, New Mexico. As per the Utah Geological Survey, for every 150,000 gem-quality diamonds there will be only one red beryl. These crystals rarely exceed two inches in length, and the largest red beryl ever found weighed 54 carats. In 2017, a Singapore based jeweler Caratell used six red beryls in his jewelry collection of which the most unique and largest was a 2.20 carat emerald-cut red beryl set with 2.32 carats of diamonds in the ‘Sun Ray’ ring. Red beryl is priced around USD 10,000 per carat, so you may begin to guess the price of the Sun Ray ring.

5. Alexandrite

The most valuable clear Alexandrite demonstrates a complete color change that appears emerald by day and ruby by night. Discovered in 1830 in the Ural Mountains in Russia the gemstone was named after Russian tsar Alexander II. A one carat Alexandrite fetches USD 15,000, but a stone larger than one carat can fetch as much as USD 70,000 per carat. The Sauer Alexandrite is the world’s largest uncut gem-quality alexandrite weighing 122,400 carats discovered by Jules Roger Sauer, in Bahia, Brazil, in 1967 and to-date held in Souer’s private collection at Amsterdam. While the world’s largest 65.08 carats cut and faceted alexandrite is housed at The Smithsonian.

6. Grandidierite

Grandidierite was first discovered in Madagascar in 1902 by French mineralogist Alfred Lacroix. He named the stone after Madagascar’s famous historian and explorer Alfred Grandidier. Later the blue-green mineral was also found in Sri Lanka. Grandidierite is mostly translucent, but the rarest and most valuable stone was transparent that sold for an undisclosed sum. This year, the Guinness World Record confirmed the largest cut grandidierite weighing 764 carats belongs to Medici Collection, LLC (USA).

7. Paraiba Tourmaline

The Paraiba tourmaline is the rarest tourmaline with a bright turquoise hue. It was first discovered in 1987 by a miner Heitor Dimas Barbosa, who believed that something special lay under the hills Paraiba. After mining for years Barbosa unearthed the neon blue tourmaline. Later in 2003 somewhat similar turquoise-colored tourmalines were mined in Nigeria and Mozambique. The largest and grandest Paraiba tourmaline weighing 191.87 carats is set in a necklace called “Paraiba Star of the Ocean Jewels,” designed and owned by Montreal--Canadian jeweler Vincent Boucher. With a price starting at USD 5,000 per carat, the cost of the necklace remains a mystery.

8. Padparadscha Sapphire

The name “Padparadscha” is derived from the Sanskrit word denoting the color of a tropical lotus flower. The Padparadscha sapphire of the corundum family has a beautiful pink and orange mix. This stone mined in Sri Lanka is believed to have healing properties like increasing fertility, treating blood disorders, regulating the glands, and calming nerves. The gemstone which is a connoisseur’s delight is priced anywhere from USD 7,000 for one carat. The stone garnered attention in 2018 as it was set in one of the most expensive engagement rings made for Princess Eugenie. Who knows but it may continue as engagement ring trends in 2021. The more pinkish Padparadschas are now mined in Madagascar and Tanzania too.

9. Benitoite

Benitoite, first found in the area near the San Benito River in 1907, California is no longer mined since 2006 making it even more exclusive. A deep-blue color benitoite stone that rarely exceeds 2 carats can fetch more than USD 10,000 per carat. The largest perfectly cut benitoite weighs a little over 7 carats.

10. Tanzanite

Found only at the Merelani foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the Tanzanite a blue variety of the mineral zoisite is among the rare gemstones in the world. The stone was first discovered in 1967 and since then has been popularized by Tiffany & Co. The natural non-heated tanzanite carries a high value. The December birthstone priced around USD 425 for a 1 carat stone, won’t be seen very long as its origin is restricted to Tanzania.

Today these remain among the rarest gemstones in the world (in no particular order) until someone stumbles upon a mine full of them.

About Rukshana -

Rukshana is a freelance content and communication strategist based out of Mumbai, India. She mingles her expertise in PR with comprehensive domain knowledge and creative writing skills to assist and propagate business, worldwide. Being a quick learner, she utilizes her diversified digital expertise to provide copywriting and content writing services to create highly profitable brands, products, and services.