The Jewelry Box Blog

What are the Rarest Gemstones in the World?

on Jul 14, 2023 1:00 PM
Gemstones in a treasure box

Have you ever wondered what the rarest gemstones in the world are? Diamonds may come to mind—and while they are valuable, highly in demand, and astonishingly beautiful, it may be surprising to know that there are other gemstones that far surpass diamonds in terms of rarity.  

Ahead, we’ll take a closer look at seven of the rarest gemstones on the planet, sharing their origin stories, unique properties, and more.


What Makes a Gemstone Rare?  

It takes millions of years for minerals to form crystalline structures deep within the Earth’s crust, and only a fraction of those crystals will ever be found, mined, cut, and sold as gemstones. It’s for this reason that gemstones are precious and highly sought-after commodities (that they are beautiful—and wearable when mounted in a jewelry design—only adds to their appeal). Gemstones are generally in finite supply—there’s only so much to go around!—and this scarcity further drives demand for the material. 

This scarcity also impacts how gemstones are priced for sale. The market value of any gemstone is constantly in flux due to availability; high-quality stones and large sizes are especially hard to come by and thus, fetch the highest prices. A select few of these incredible stones are so rare and valuable that they fetch millions of dollars at auction! 

The money spent on a true treasure from nature is well worth it to many collectors, connoisseurs, museum curators, and other gem enthusiasts. But even if you have just a casual interest in jewelry collecting, some of the rarest gemstones on earth are widely available—and attainable.

Many believe that owning and wearing a rare gemstone is as good as it gets. Keep reading to see if you agree!


Why are Some Gemstones Rarer than Others?

With over 200 gemstones currently documented, there are bound to be some that are significantly rarer and more valuable than others. Gemstone dealers source their material directly from the mines (or a representative) and sell it directly to retail jewelers—the price the retail jeweler charges you, the consumer, will be determined by the rarity of the gem and its overall quality (determined by a variety of standards set forth by professional gem labs). There are excellent gem-buying guides available for reference online at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA), and Jewelers of America (JA).


Get to Know The World’s Rarest Gemstones

The rarest gemstones in the world are found everywhere from Africa to America.


Tanzanite – No Shrinking Violet

Picture of a tanzanite gemstone

Tanzanite is a gemstone that can only be found in Northern Tanzania – a small area of about eight square miles near the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. Discovered in 1967, this violet-blue gem variety of the mineral zoisite, is considered 1,000 times rarer than diamonds and the second most valuable blue gemstone (sapphire is first).  

Despite its relatively recent discovery in 1967, gemologists predict that the supply of tanzanite could be depleted in the next 10 to 20 years, which only enhances the gem’s desirability. It is one of the only gemstones that is trichroic in nature, meaning it can display three colors at the same time—namely, blue, purple, and red. Naturally reddish-brown, Tanzanite is heat-treated to bring out its shades of blue and purple (the most common is a lighter shade approximating lavender; the most valuable hue is a dazzling, vivid blue-purple). 


Alexandrite – A Color-Changing Rock Star

Picture of an Alexandrite gem

Alexandrite is a rare gemstone from the chrysoberyl mineral family with a mesmerizing ability to change colors in different light sources. Gem aficionados often refer to alexandrite as an “emerald by day, ruby by night,” due to how its color shifts from a blue-green or greenish violet color in daylight to a red or reddish violet in incandescent light. While other gems exhibit similar color-changing properties, none do so as dramatically as alexandrite. 

Alexandrite was first discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia in 1834 and named in honor of Tsar Alexander II. Today, high-quality alexandrite can also be found in Brazil, India, Madagascar, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka. 

Alexandrite jewelry is extremely expensive—the finest specimens could fetch $15,000 to  $70,000 per carat, while commercial-grade alexandrite may be available for $2,000 or less per carat (the color-change effect is markedly less pronounced). 


Black Opal – All Fired Up

Picture of a black opal stone

Black opal is the rarest type of opal and is considered the best and most valuable variety you can acquire. Unlike standard opals that have a milky white color, black opals feature a kaleidoscope of colors against a dark, often blue-toned background with gorgeous iridescent streaks and flashes that are known in the gem trade as “fire.” This striking and complex color play makes black opal one of the rarest, most hypnotic, and coveted stones in the world.

Over 90% of the world’s supply of black opal is mined in Lightning Ridge in New South Wales, Australia – located right on the edge of the Outback. Because of its far-flung location and limited supply, Australian black opal comes with a hefty price tag (as in, $10,000 per carat—whew!).  


Red Beryl – An “Emerald” in Red  

Picture of a red beryl stone

Red beryl, also known as bixbite, is the rarest member of the beryl family of gemstones, which also includes emerald and aquamarine. It gets its vibrant red color from trace amounts of manganese.

Today, gem-quality red beryl is only found in the Wah Wah Mountains of Beaver County, Utah. That red beryl is sourced solely from this one location automatically makes it a rarity. To further put the scarcity of red beryl in perspective, the Utah Geological Survey has estimated that one crystal of red beryl is found for every 150,000 gem-quality diamonds. In fact, most large red beryl gems often remain uncut to be sold to collectors as mineral specimens. The average price per carat for high-quality red beryl is $10,000.  


Jadeite – Good Looks & Good Luck

Jadeite gemstone

Nephrite is the gem that most people think of when they think of “jade” but the rarest form of the gem is jadeite. Found in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), jadeite is admired by gem connoisseurs the world over but holds a special place in Chinese culture. To the Chinese, jadeite is revered as a symbol of good luck and prosperity. In jewelry, jadeite can be worn as both a protective amulet and a talisman that attracts good fortune, health, and wealth.  

Jadeite comes in a rainbow of hues including red, orange, yellow, brown, white, black, and gray. However, “imperial jade”—characterized by a remarkably deep, vivid green—is considered the most desirable.

Other rare jadeite varieties include “kingfisher jade” (a more muted green than imperial jade); “apple jade” (an intense yellowish green); and “moss-in-snow jade,” a translucent white with bright green spots, patches, or veining. Lavender jadeite is another sought-after color of jade you might see pop up in the collections of high-end jewelry designers.

Since it’s not uncommon for high-quality examples of jadeite to fetch millions at auction, a bangle or a string of beads made in nephrite jade might be the way to go (especially since the good luck vibes are abundant in all types of jade, not just jadeite).


Musgravite – A “Rarity Among Rare” 

Picture of a musgravite gem

Musgravite belongs to the mineral class taaffeite and was first discovered in 1967 in the Musgrave Ranges in South Australia. Currently, gem-quality musgravite can only be found in Tunduru in Northern Tanzania and Mogok in Myanmar. Musgravite is so rare it’s been labeled as a “rarity among rare” by the GIA. In fact, it’s estimated that less than one hundred crystals of musgravite exist in the world today.  

Musgravite ranges in color from colorless to gray to greenish-gray to purple. Purple musgravites are the most in-demand among collectors. Musgravite prices range from $35,000 to $50,000 per carat, depending on the quality of the stone. 


Benitoite – Made in California 

Picture of a benitoite gemstone

Benitoite is a rare blue gem exclusively mined in the San Benito Mountains of California (and fittingly, Benitoite is that state’s official gem). First discovered in 1906, the original deposit has since been depleted, although some material is still being recovered and sold. The lack of availability alone makes this gem a rarity, but it’s also an all-American beauty: The best gem-quality specimens boast a body color that is comparable to that of tanzanite and sapphire. Furthermore, the brilliance (sparkle) of Benitoite surpasses that of other gems, including diamonds. The stone is also doubly refractive, which means that when light hits the stone it splits into two rays. This makes the dispersion of light look like it’s bouncing off the gem every which way and the fiery display can be breathtaking. Brilliant blue Benitoite gems sell for between $6,500 to $8,500 per carat. 

If you’re lucky enough to own a piece of jewelry set with one of the world’s rarest gemstones, you can protect your investment by obtaining personal jewelry insurance through Jewelers Mutual. It’s an affordable option that covers loss, damage, and mysterious disappearances. You can receive a jewelry insurance quote in just 30 seconds by clicking the button below. 


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