If you’re on the hunt for exceptionally rare gemstones but aren’t sure where to look or what to look for, here’s a look at several rare gemstones rarer than diamonds.
Despite the fact that diamonds get the majority of most publicity, they are not the be-all and end-all of the gemstone industry. In truth, there are a plethora of rare gemstones available that are both rarer and more beautiful than diamonds. Some would even say that they are more beautiful than diamonds.
Gemstones bring joy to people in a variety of ways. They can be worn as jewellery, they can be used as accessories, they can be gifts for loved ones, they can be used to mark celebrations and festivals, and a whole lot more on top of that.
If you’re on the hunt for rare and attractive gemstones but aren’t sure where to look or what to look for, here’s a look at several rare gemstones rarer than diamonds.
1. Burma Ruby
Burma Ruby gets its name because it comes from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). Whereas all rubies are rare, the Burma ruby is particularly rare as it set the standard for colour and quality in the ruby world.
A lot of rubies are mined in Thailand, and because the conditions there are naturally rich in iron, this can result in the reds looking very dark and almost resembling a brown colour. The conditions in Myanmar however, are perfect because the rubies contain little trace iron. The end result is ruby in a vivid and vibrant red colour.
Burma rubies work exceptionally well with silver, which is why a lot of Burma Ruby rings are silver rather than gold.
Rubies are especially popular with hobbyists that spend time digging in locally, there are some great options for gem mining locally in most areas. There are some fun options for both experienced and new enthusiasts. You probably won’t find anything worth putting on your finger without a lot of work but it can be a great way to find some beautiful gems if you don’t mind getting a little dirty!
Up next we have the now iconic Tanzanite.
People think of sapphire when they think of rare blue rubies. While sapphire is a beautiful blue rock, it isn’t the only blue gemstone on the market.
With brilliant blue hues and hints of violet, tanzanite more than holds its own against sapphire and is actually a great deal more affordable. Remember, just because they are classified as rare gemstones, that doesn’t necessarily make them expensive.
Found only in a small part of Tanzania, this gem was discovered back in 1967 and quickly became very popular thanks to a marketing effort by Tiffany & Co.
Ammolite is a very new gemstone on the scene, as it was only discovered four decades ago, back in 1981.
Made from the aragonite shells of molluscs which are over 65 million years old, they display vibrant and shimmering colours in a whole variety of colours. This is what makes this gem so special, in that each specimen is unique because it can display any colour of the rainbow or any combination of colours of the rainbow.
Needless to say, the value of gemstones increases when you encounter rare colours or combinations of colours. Interestingly, the value increases still, depending on how far the stone can be rotated with these colours still visible.
4. Natural pearls
Natural pearls in the ocean are now incredibly rare. In fact, you are more likely to find a natural pearl in an antique jewellery store than you are in the ocean.
Because of overfishing, pollution, and acidification of the oceans, natural pearls are very rare in the ocean, which is why they’re so valuable and find themselves at number four on our rare gemstones list.
A good way to tell a natural pearl is to look for imperfections. Cheap and inferior pearls will be brilliant white and will be perfectly round and symmetrical. Natural pearls, however, will be misshapen and are often off-colour. It is the natural pearl’s imperfections that make it so perfect.
Next on our list of rare gemstones is Opal, a hydrated amorphous form of silica.
Opal can be categorized into two classes, namely precious and common.
Play of colours (iridescence) can be seen in precious opals, common opal does not. Opals may vary in transparency, translucent, or opaqueness, and the background colour may be either white, black, or nearly any other colour of the rainbow.
Opals are rarest in black, while more commonly in white, grey, and green. An important determinant of opal quality is the regularity of sphere sizes and packing of spheres.
Another type of common opal is milk opal, which is milky bluish to green in colour.
The mineral painite is one of the rarest borate minerals and is often completely unknown to most people.
The price of painite can range from $50,000 to $60,000 per carat because it is considered as one of the most rare gemstones in the world. Painite is comprised of calcium, zirconium, boron, aluminium, and oxygen. Zirconium and boron rarely occur in nature together, which accounts for the mineral’s rarity.
The crystals are naturally hexagonal in shape, and, until late 2004, only two had been cut into faceted gemstones.
Musgravite is a rare oxide mineral used as a gemstone and forms part of the taaffeite family of minerals.
Its type locality is the Ernabella Mission, Musgrave Ranges, South Australia, for which it was named following its discovery in 1967.
Musgravite may fetch up to $35,000 per carat due to its exceptional scarcity of being one of the most rare gemstones in the world.
Next found on our list of rare gemstones is Jadeite. This is a pyroxene mineral that has a Mohs hardness of about 6.5 to 7.0 depending on the composition. With a gravity of about 3.4, this mineral is dense.
Jadeite’s colour commonly ranges from white through pale apple green to deep jade green but can also be blue-green (like the recently rediscovered “Olmec Blue” jade), pink, lavender and a multitude of other rare colours.
Jadeite has formally be found in California; New Zealand; Guatemala; the US; Myanmar, and Japan. Other localities of this rare gemstone include Russia; British Columbia; Kazakhstan; Itlay and Turkestan.
9. Red Beryl
Formerly known as “bixbite” and marketed as “red emerald” or “scarlet emerald”, the Red beryl is a very rare gemstone and has been found and reported in only a handful of locations. Such places include Wah Wah Mountains, Utah, Paramount Canyon, New Mexico, Sierra County and Beaver County.
In 1958 the greatest concentration of gem-grade red beryl was discovered by Lamar Hodges. This historical Ruby-Violet claim was found in the Wah Wah Mountains of mid-western Utah.
Gem beryls are normally found in pegmatites and certain metamorphic rocks, whereas red beryl is found in topaz-bearing rhyolites.
Last but not least on our rare gemstones list is the alexandrite. Depending on ambient lighting, this gem variety displays a colour change.
Because human vision is most sensitive to green light and least sensitive to red light, alexandrite appears greenish in daylight where the full spectrum of visible light is present, and reddish in incandescent light emits less green and blue light.
This colour change is independent of any change of hue with viewing direction through the crystal that would arise from pleochroism.
Popular legend has it that the Finnish mineralogist Nils Gustaf Nordenskiöld (1792-1866) discovered alexandrite, and named alexandrite in honour of the future Emperor of All Russia Alexander II Romanov.
Finding itself at number eleven on our list of rare gemstones is Larimar. The Dominican Republic’s Barahona city is the only location in the world where a unique blue variant of the silicate mineral pectolite may be found. This type is known as larimar. Its hue ranges from (bluish white, light-blue, light-green, green-blue, turquoise blue, turquoise green, turquoise blue-green), to (deep green, dark green), to deep blue, dark blue, purple, violet, and indigo, and the larimar can come in many different variations and colour mixes).
Pectolite is the primary component of larimar, which is either the mineral itself or the rock that is formed primarily of pectolite. Pectolite is an acid-silicate hydrate of calcium and sodium. Pectolite may be found in many different places, but larimar is distinguished by its distinctively volcanic blue hue, which is caused by the presence of copper instead of calcium.
Taaffeite is the name of a mineral that was called after the person who discovered it, Richard Taaffe (1898–1967). Richard Taaffe discovered the first sample of taaffeite in October 1945 at a jeweller’s store in Dublin, Ireland. The gem had been cut and polished. As a result, it is the only gemstone that has ever been determined to be a gemstone by first analysing a faceted stone.
Before Taaffe, the majority of the parts of the gem had been incorrectly labelled as spinel. After that, it was only ever discovered in a handful of samples, and even today, it is considered to be one of the rarest gemstones in the entire world.
Grandidierite is number thirteen on our rare gemstones list. It was found for the very first time in 1902 in the southern region of Madagascar. Alfred Grandidier (1836–1912), a French explorer who was interested in the natural history of Madagascar, is honoured with the naming of this mineral.
The higher the iron content of granodiorites, the bluer their hue will seem. Grandidierite is the Fe-analogue to a newly found gemstone called blue ominelite.
Grandidierite is notable for the intense trichroic pleochroism that they exhibit. This implies that depending on the angle at which one views it, it can seem either dark blue-green, colourless (often appearing extremely light yellow), or dark green.
Benitoite is an extremely uncommon blue barium titanium cyclosilicate that may be found in serpentinite that has been hydrothermally altered. It originates in the high-pressure, low-temperature settings that are typical of subduction zones near the borders of convergent plate plates.
Benitoite is a mineral that fluoresces when exposed to short-wave ultraviolet light, giving off an appearance that is somewhere between brilliant blue and bluish-white. Benitoite crystals that are transparent to white are relatively uncommon and glow red when exposed to long-wave ultraviolet light.
Last but not least on our list of rare gemstones is Poudretteite. In the 1960s, minuscule crystals of a mineral and gemstone known as poudretteite were found for the very first time in Mont St. Hilaire, Quebec, Canada. Poudretteite is an extraordinarily uncommon form of both of these substances. The Poudrette family had a quarry in the region of Mont St. Hilaire where poudretteite was first discovered.
That quarry is now held by Salmon Mining Industries Inc. of the United Kingdom, however, the mineral was named after the Poudrette family because of their operation of the quarry. The radioactivity of poudretteite is so low that it is almost undetectable.