For over 40 years, we’ve been searching the world for the rarest gemstones. Rarity has many elements. According to American Gem Lab, out of 3000 registered mineral species and varieties, less than 500 are known to be suitable to be cut into a gemstone.
However, not all gemstones marketed as rare are actually that. Rarity and price don’t always go hand in hand either. A gemstone’s rarity must not be confused with value. Something has more value when others are willing to pay for it in the open market. Diamonds are a good example. Extremely expensive but not rare.
Our list includes many gemstones that are not commonly found in jewelry because of how hard they are to be faceted and found. Pricing of rare gemstones will always be dictated by demand. The average person is completely unaware of these esoteric gemstones making demand less than it should be.
Collectors, and museum curators are usually knowledgeable when it comes to rarity. Size and clarity are among the elements of Rarity, that can have an exponential effect on any stone’s ranking. We limited consideration for these two elements in our ranking system.
Here is our updated list of the World’s 10 Rarest Gemstones.
Time and time again the notion of diamonds being rare has been displaced. There are exceptions to everything.
Red diamonds and blue diamonds are amongst the most highly sought collectors items in the world. Their scarcity is unmatched. Most recently, a 12.11 carat fancy intense blue diamond sold for approximately $1.3 Million Per Carat!
Sotheby’s Auction House estimates this 1.38 ct Red Diamond to sell for $1.8 to $2.8M USD!
Grandidierite is one of the rarest gemstones and usually found in shades of blue and green. It was discovered in southern Madagascar in 1902, and named after its founder: Alfred Grandidier. The most valuable and sought after Grandidierite is the neon-blue variant, and can also change colors depending on the angle it is viewed. Due to its rare nature, there are few places it is found in the world.
Most recently, in 2014, a new mine was found in Tarnomaro, Madagascar. Even with this new pocket, National Jeweler reported that the 2014 discovery has produced only about 60 grams (300 carats) of eye-clean crystals.
Taaffeite was unknown to the world of gemology until a relatively recent discovery. In 1946, Count Richard Taaffe accidentally discovered the first sample in a small jewel’s shop in Dublin, Ireland.
Taaffe noticed that despite the similar appearance to spinel, the gem’s properties hinted that it was another mineral entirely. Wanting to investigate further, Taaffe sent the gem to the Laboratory of the London Chamber of Commerce and later to the Natural History Museum for testing. After being analyzed, it was determined that the sample that Taaffe had sent in was truly distinct from spinel, and as such was given a new name.
Taaffeite is a light mauve stone that ranges in color from green, pink, lilac, blue, violet, red to sometimes colorless. Known in the trade as Magnesiotaaffeite, the gem has a few unique properties that set it apart from stones similar in appearance. Unlike spinel which is only singly refractive, Taaffeite is doubly refractive. The essential components of Taaffeite consist of beryllium, magnesium and aluminum, making it a transparent gem with a vitreous luster. Due to its incredible rarity, taaffeite is used exclusively as a gemstone.
Although the first sample was discovered in Ireland, Taaffeite is found around the world. Reports indicate that Taaffeite is most commonly found in Sri Lanka, alongside other carbonate rocks such as fluorite and spinel. There have also been findings of Taaffeite in southern Tanzania. In certain Russian territories and China, lower grade taaffeite gems have been found in rolled pebbles and limestone deposits.
Taaffeite is still being discovered in new places, with samples being discovered in South Australia and Myanmar within the past decade.
According to Bonhams, the Guinness Book of world Records has described painite as the “Holy Grail” of gemstones. In the early 1950s, Arthur Charles Davy Pain, a British Gemologist, discovered it in Burma (Myanmar). The stone’s color is usually red to brownish-red color. They were previously believed to be rubies and sometimes garnets until they were later classified as a new mineral species. According to Gems & Gemology (GIA 2005), as of the date of the publication, only 167 faceted painites were known, mostly smaller than 0.40 carats! (https://www.gia.edu/doc/WN05.pdf). The difficulty is finding this stone is further confirmed by the limited photos of it that are available!
The difficulty in faceting Painite adds to its rarity. According to International Gem Society, gem-quality rough is usually highly included/ fractured. As a result, faceters tend to cut these gems small and shallow, which can impair their brilliance.
Lamar Hodges discovered the stone in 1958 while prospecting uranium in Utah. Often referred to as Red Emerald, the Red Beryl is a rare and sought after variety of beryl that has a strong red color due to high amounts of manganese. There are very few gemstones found that are capable of being faceted. It is estimated that one crystal of red beryl is found for every 150,000 diamonds found.
In 1906, J M Crouch uncovered Benitoite while searching for mercury and copper minerals near San Benito, California. He noticed a bluish crystal thinking it to be sapphire. Upon examination by a jeweler, the stone would be identified as a new mineral.
Another account suggests it was discovered in 1907 by Hawkins and Edwin Sanders. Regardless, Benitoite is an extremely rare gemstone that is usually blue, purple, pink color or colorless.
While small amounts of the gemstone have been found in other places, California has been the only location where gemstone quality Benitoite has been found. As such, it is very expensive and rarely used in jewelry. Benitoite is also the official state gem of California.
Alexandrite has a rich history dating back to imperial Russia. Alexandrite’s most special quality is its ability to naturally change color. The most rare alexandrites will appear greenish under daylight and purplish under incandescent light.
Paraiba Tourmaline is the trade name for vivid colored blue-green colored tourmalines often described as “Windex blue,” “electric blue,” and “neon blue.” Top values of Paraiba Tourmalines are given to the stones with the strongest saturations. Color and brilliance are valued over clarity, with small differences in quality making big differences in value. They are also prized for their Brazilian origin.
Demantoid Garnet is the most valuable garnet and has a green to emerald green color. It also can have brown or yellowish tones. In 1853, children playing in Russia thought they found pebbles which ended up being demantoid. It is part of the Andradite family and is found in China and Korea.
It’s name reflects its value, as “Demantoid” translates to “diamond like”. Clean and facetable demantoid garnets are expensive
per carat, but those with wavy, golden, and fibrous horsetail inclusions are especially valued. Schumann [Page 122]. According to Gem Historian Richard Wise, Demantoid garnet is readily availably below 1 carat, and begins to become quite rare with 2 carat + sizes.