Gemstone, the word itself brings to one’s mind an extravagant range of colorful stones. Some of us only relate gemstones to the nine-navagraha stones and for some other it may mean only diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald.
However, gemstones are much more than just a few stones that we frequently come across. Gemstones are found in all hues that the human eye can think of.
Gemstones are rare, that’s what makes them precious. However there are many gemstones which are harder to find than others.
There is no consensus on what the rarest mineral or the rarest gemstone is on the surface of earth because there is no consensus on the definition of “rarity”, according to Gemological Institute of America (GIA). However, many of the stones found in only one or two localities in the entire world can be called as scarce.
Gems are one of nature’s ways of saying, “look how beautiful I can be”, and people know it, too. For thousands of years humans have been adorning themselves with gems and jewels to stand out and wow an audience.
Be it necklaces, brooches, pendants, or bracelets, precious and rare gems have long since become one of the favored ways to express just how much wealth one has. Here are the a few rarest gems on earth.(1) Black Opal:
Opal is Australia’s national gemstone, and black opal is the rarest and most valuable of its kind, at times selling at prices that rival the best diamonds.
The stone must have a rich, black background, but base colors come in all shades of gray, which is why opinions vary on what is a “true” black opal.
Found in the Lightning Ridge area in northwestern New South Wales, black opals are natural, solid stones that absorb scattered white light, giving it brilliant spectral colors.(2) Painite:
Discovered in 1951 in Mogok, Burma, painite was once considered the rarest mineral on Earth. For decades, only two crystals were known to exist.
It didn’t obtain official gemstone status until 1957 when the British Museum conducted X-ray analysis on a sample. In 1979, a third crystal was recovered by the GIA.
Today, more than a thousand crystals and crystal fragments have been found. However, only a small percentage of the rough are suitable for sale. Painite is made up of aluminum, calcium, boron, zirconium and oxygen. It gets its orange-red to brownish-red color from trace amounts of iron.(3) Musgravite:
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) calls musgravite “a rarity among the rare… a particular gem on our research examination ‘want list.’”
Musgravite is a silicate mineral whose main ingredients are beryllium (Be), magnesium (Mg) and aluminum (Al). It was named ‘musgravite’ after the area Musgrave in Australia from where the material was first found. The musgravite was later found also in Greenland and Madagascar, but neither of them produces gem quality material. Two pieces of faceted gem-quality musgravite from Sri Lanka were reported first in 1993. Keep in mind; this is the LEAST priceless of the ten
A very close relative of another hard-to-find gemstone, taaffeite (and often misidentified as such), musgravite was first discovered in 1967 in the Musgrave Range of South Australia.
Facet grade — the baseline measurement of how clean cut a sellable stone must be — for musgravite was not reported until 1993. As of 2005, there were only eight musgravite specimens in the world.(4) Jeremejevite:
Jeremejevite is an extremely rare, aluminium borate mineral. It was discovered in the late 19th century and named after Pavel V. Jeremejev, a Russian mineralogist and engineer.
Until recently, the only two known localities for Jeremejevite were Mt. Soktuj in the Transbaikal region of Russia and Cape Cross, Swakopmund, Namibia.
Not much is known about Jeremejevite. The color is typically aquamarine, but other records show the mineral can also be dark blue, pale yellow-brown or colorless.
Pronounced ye-REM-ay-ev-ite, as of early 2005, a clean, 2.93-carat faceted gem was selling on the Internet for $2000.00 per carat(5) Red Diamonds:
Red diamonds, just like any other diamonds, are made of compressed carbon. However, the brilliant red color in these diamonds is formed from a structural defect in the crystal lattice structure, which is why they are the rarest of the colored diamond collection.
Only a handful has ever received the grade of “Fancy Red,” meaning that they are pure red with no modifying color. Most are sold at market for millions of dollars.
The Argyle mine in Australia is the primary producer of pink and sometimes red diamonds.(6) Tanzanite:
This transparent, blue gem first turned up in 1962 and has been found scattered throughout northern Tanzania in Africa.
Ranging in color from light blue to pure blue to dark violet-blue, the deepest hues are valued most.
Made popular by jewellery giant Tiffany & Co. in 1968, Tanzanite has seen wild price fluctuations over the years. Tanzania’s violent political, social and economic conditions have made it difficult at times to mine the mineral. However, the nation remains the gem’s only known source.(7) Red Beryl:
Although “red emerald” is its snazzy marketing name and it was originally called “bixbite”; this mineral goes by the name “red beryl” today.
The brilliant red-purple color is not a trick of the light. The stone’s actual chemistry is distinctive and separate from other beryls. It is found along fractures in topaz rhyolites. The gem crystallizes when rhyolite-derived gases, vapors from heated groundwater, and preexisting minerals and volcanic glass in the rhyolite react all at once.
There is only one known commercial production of gem-quality red beryl in the world: the Ruby Violet (or Red Beryl) mine in the Wah Wah Mountains of Beaver County, Utah.(8) Poudretteite:
Still one of the rarest gems known today, this pinkish mineral was named after the Poudrette family, owners and operators of a quarry near Mont Saint-Hilaire, Quebec, and Canada, where poudretteite was first found.
It was discovered as a few tiny crystals during the mid-1960s, but wasn’t recognized as a new mineral until 1986. The first documented gem-quality specimen of poudretteite wasn’t discovered until 2000, when it was found in Mogok, Burma.
This remarkable, flawless 9.41 carat poudretteite gem from Burma is truly one-of-a-kind. It is considered to be one of the largest — if not the largest — faceted poudretteite in existence.(9) Grandidierite:
This is a bluish green mineral found primarily in Madagascar. The first and so far only clean faceted specimen, from Sri Lanka, was originally mistaken for a serendibite and subsequently purchased in May 2000 by Prof. Gübelin from Murray Burford. The gem shown above weighs 0.29 carats. Grandidierite is trichroic, transmitting blue, green and white light. The mineral is named after French explorer and natural historian Alfred Grandidier, who among other things unearthed bones from the extinct half-ton elephant bird in Ambolisatra, Madagascar.(10) Blue Garnet:
Garnets species are found in many colors including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, pink and colorless. The rarest of these is the blue garnet, discovered in the late 1990s in Bekily, Madagascar. It is also found in parts of the United States, Russia and Turkey. It changes color from blue-green in the daylight to purple in incandescent light, as a result of the relatively high amounts of vanadium. The most expensive, a 4.2 carat gem sold in 2003 for $6.8 Million.(11) Serendibite:
This gem is a cyan colored stone that comes from Sri Lanka. It boasts an unusually complex formula consisting of calcium, magnesium, aluminum, silicon, boron and oxygen. So far there exist only three faceted (cut) specimens of 0.35 carats, 0.55 carats and 0.56 carats. The first two were discovered by rare stone specialist D. P. Gunasekera and purchased by the late Prof. E. J. Gübelin of Switzerland. The smallest was sold for about $14,300.00 per carat.(12) Jadeite:
Until recent years jadeite has been something of a mystery mineral, but we now know of primary sources in Guatemala as well as several California occurrences of white or grayish jadeite. Boulders in which a few small freestanding crystals have been seen occur in San Benito Co., California, with additional finds in Clear Creek, between New Idria and Hernandez. All Mexican jadeite is in artifacts, from unknown sources. The record price for a single piece of jadeite jewelry was set at the November 1997 Christie’s Hong Kong sale: Lot 1843, the “Doubly Fortunate” necklace of 27 approximately .5 mm jadeite beads sold for US$9.3 million.(13) Benitoite:
Benitoite is found only in San Benito County, California. The stone is a strong blue with dispersion similar to that of diamond, and fluoresce an intense blue-white under UV light. The largest faceted benitoite weighs 15.42 carats, but stones over one carat are rare. In 1974 someone stole a flawless 6.52-carat pear-shaped specimen from the Zurich airport and it’s still missing. (I wouldn’t hold out much hope. They probably fenced it by cutting it down into two or more smaller stones.) In 1985 benitoite was designated the state gemstone of California. Like taaffeite, benitoite in small sizes goes for between $500.00 and $2000.00 per carat.