Many people know that diamond is actually pretty common when it comes to gemstones (you can find millions of them in your typical candle flame), but who among us can actually name any that are rarer? Here, we present to you a collection of ten of the rarest gemstones on Earth.
Should Facial Recognition Technology be Banned? | Future Tech
Above: Benitoite, number 7 on our list, fluorescing under UV light | Photo Credit: Parent Géry
In 2005, The Guinness Book of World Records called painite the world's rarest gemstone mineral. First discovered in Myanmar by British mineralogist Arthur C. D. Pain in the 1950s, for decades there were only two known crystals of the hexagonal mineral on Earth; by 2005, there were still fewer than 25 known specimens.
Today, painite isn't as rare as it used to be. According to Caltech's division of geological and planetary sciences, the identification of a new painite repository in Myanmar, "the recent discovery of the actual source of the original stones," and "the subsequent discovery of two major new localities in the Mogok area" have all led to the recovery of several thousand crystals and fragments, but painite nevertheless ranks among the rarest minerals on Earth. [Photo Credit: Rob Lavinsky | CC BY-SA 3.0]
G/O Media may get a commission
Lowest Price Ever
The 2023 Complete Python Certification Bootcamp Bundle
Comes with twelve different courses comprised of a huge number of lessons, and each one will help you learn more about Python itself, and can be accessed when you want and as often as you want forever, making it ideal for learning a new skill.
Alexandrite is renowned for its strange optical properties – it can actually undergo dramatic shifts in color depending on what kind of light it's in. To be clear: this color change is independent of your viewing angle; a gemstone that shifts colors when you rotate it in your hand is said to be pleochroic, and while alexandrite is strongly pleochroic, it can also change colors independently of viewing angle when viewed under an artificial light source. (In natural sunlight, the gem appears greenish blue; in soft incandescent light, the gem appears reddish purple, instead.)
A variety of Chrysoberyl, alexandrite belongs to the same family of gemstones as emerald. It's color-changing properties (and its scarcity relative to diamond) is due to an exceedingly rare combination of minerals that includes titanium, iron and chromium. [Photo Credit: David Weinberg | CC BY-SA 3.0]
The catchphrase you hear tossed around about tanzanite is that it's 1000 times rarer than diamond, which it very well may be, considering that it's found almost exclusively in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, and in limited supplies. Like alexandrite, tanzanite exhibits dramatic color shifts that are dependent upon both crystal orientation and lighting conditions. In this figure you can see how the tanzanite changes color when viewed in vertically polarized light, unpolarized light, and horizontally polarized light, moving from left to right. According to Caltech's geology division, these color variations are largely due to the presence of vanadium ions. [Figure via Caltech]
This striking blue stone has only been found, as its name suggests, near the head waters of the San Benito River in San Benito County, California ( some sources say it has also been unearthed in limited quantities in Japan and Arkansas, but that these specimens are not "gemstone quality"), and is also the state's official gem.
One of the most distinctive features of benitoite is how positively awesome it looks under a UV light, where it fluoresces a brilliant color reminiscent of glowing blue chalk. What's strange is that, even though it was first described at the turn of the twentieth century, and we've known its chemical composition for decades, the origin of its color and its fluorescent properties still aren't well understood. [Photo Credit: Parent Géry]
The first traces of poudrette were discovered in the mid 1960s in the Poudrette quarry of Mont Saint Hilaire, Quebec, but it wasn't officially recognized as a new species of mineral until 1987, and wasn't thoroughly described until as recently as 2003. According to some sources, it's likely that few people will ever encounter a poudretteite specimen in person, and many will likely never even hear of it. [Photo Credit: Scott Davies, courtesy of The Gemology Project | CC BY-NC-SA 2.5]
This bluish-green mineral is found almost exclusively in Madagascar, though the first (and, presumably, only) clean faceted specimen (described here) was recovered from Sri Lanka. Like alexandrite and tanzinite, grandidierite is pleochroic, and can transmit blue, green, and white light. [Photo Credit: Don Guennie | CC BY-SA 3.0]
4. Red Diamonds
Technically speaking, red diamonds are diamonds, but they serve to highlight the fact that that diamonds actually come in a range of colors. They are, in order of rarity: yellow, brown, colorless, blue, green, black, pink, orange, purple and red. In other words, The clear diamonds you're liable to encounter at your local jeweler aren't even rare as far as diamonds go.
As a point of reference, the largest red diamond on Earth — The Moussaieff Red, pictured here — weighs just 5.11 carats (about 1 gram). The largest traditional diamonds — such as those cut from the 3,106.75-carat Cullinan diamond — weigh in at well over 500 carats. [Photo Credit: The Gemological Institute of America]
This mineral was first discovered in 1967 at the Musgrave Range in South Australia, but has shown up in limited quantities in Greenland, Madagascar, and Antarctica. The very first specimen that was actually large and pure enough to be cut to shape (like the one pictured here, courtesy of the Gemological Institue of America) wasn't reported until 1993, and, as of 2005, only eight such specimens are believed to exist. [Photo Credit: De Agostini/Getty Images]
First discovered in Siberia at the end of the 19th century, gem-quality crystals of jeremejevite (i.e. minerals large and clear enough to be cut to shape) have since been recovered in limited supplies in Namibia. Pictured here is jeremejevite that has formed in a rare, clear-crystal form the largest faceted jeremejevite on Earth. [Photo Credit: Fred Kruijen | CC BY-SA 3.0]
1. Red Beryl
Red beryl (aka bixbite, "red emerald," or "scarlet emerald") was first described in 1904, and while it is closely related on a chemical level to both emerald and aquamarine, it is considerably rarer than both. (The mineral's red color is due to the presence of Mn3+ ions.)
The mineral's known distribution is limited to parts of Utah and New Mexico, and has proven exceptionally difficult to mine in an economically feasible fashion. As a result, some published estimates say rubies of similar quality (rubies being a rare gem, themselves), are roughly 8000 times as plentiful as any given red beryl specimen. Consequently, prices on red beryl have been known to reach as much as 10 grand per carat for cut stones. [Photo Credit: Rob Lavinsky | CC BY-SA 3.0]
University of Arizona minerology and crystallography; the RRUFF Project; Caltech GPS's Mineral Spectroscopy Server; The Smithsonian Department of Mineral Sciences
A version of this article previously appeared in 2012
What are the 10 rarest gems in the world? ›
- Tanzanite. Tanzanite is only found in a very small area in Tanzania. ...
- Black Opal. Precious opal in itself is rare. ...
- Taaffeite. Taaffeite is a gemstone with an interesting history. ...
- Poudretteite. ...
- Larimar. ...
- Alexandrite. ...
- Benitoite. ...
- Paraiba tourmaline.
- Kashmir Sapphire.
- Blue Garnet.
- Black Opal.
- Royal Demantoid.
Painite : Not just the rarest gemstone, but also the rarest mineral on earth, Painite holds the Guinness World Record for it. After its discovery in the year 1951, there existed only 2 specimens of Painite for the next many decades. By the year 2004, there were less than 2 dozens known gemstones.What gemstone is better than a diamond? ›
Moissanite has unparalleled sparkle! It has a higher refractive index than diamond, resulting in greater brilliance than diamond. Moissanite also has greater dispersion (fire) than a diamond, so you will notice more rainbow flashes of light.What are the four rare gemstones? ›
WHAT ARE THE FOUR PRECIOUS STONES? The four precious stones as defined in the international market are Diamond, Ruby, Emerald, and Sapphire.What are the top 5 hardest gems? ›
Diamond is graded the hardest (10), followed by ruby and sapphire (9), topaz, emerald and spinel (8), and garnet, tourmaline and quartz (7). The softest stones include talc (1), gypsum (2), calcite (3) and fluorite (4).What is the 2nd rarest gem in the world? ›
2. Burma Ruby. Like its name suggests, this particular gem stone comes from Burma, present day Myanmar. Rubies, no matter where they originate from are, in any case, some of the rarest gems in the world.What is the 3rd rarest gemstone? ›
according to Forbes and GIA! *WOW* 1.20ct Emerald Cut Grandidierite.What are the top 3 precious gemstones? ›
When someone thinks of gemstones, Rubies, Sapphires and Emeralds will often spring to mind first. These 3 precious gemstones are referred to as the 'big 3' and remain the most sought-after gemstones in the world due to their hardness, rarity and beauty.What is the weirdest gem? ›
Alexandrite is a color-changing gemstone. An old saying says it's like an "emerald by day and like a ruby by night". Discovered in 1830 in Russia, the gem was named after Emperor Alexander III, the Czar of Russia in 1839.
What is the rarest gem color? ›
What is the rarest gemstone color? The rarest gemstone color is red. These include red diamonds, red emeralds and the coveted Burmese ruby. Gemstones of a rich crimson color are incredibly difficult to discover in nature, and rank among the rarest gemstones in the world.How rare is amethyst? ›
How Rare is Amethyst? Not very rare, it is plentiful, but with all gemstones, the better the color the more rare it is.What is rarer than diamond? ›
Tanzanite. Tanzanite is a shocking 1000 times more rare than a diamond. Discovered for the first time in 1967 and only found in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, these gemstones go for about $1,500 per carat. Tanzanite has the ability to change color depending on the angle of light it is in.What are the 4 most prized stones? ›
The four most sought-after precious gemstones are diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, and rubies. gemstone can help you decide what you want to say with your custom piece of jewelry.Is anything better than diamond? ›
Scientists have found a mineral stronger than diamond : NPR. Scientists have found a mineral stronger than diamond Scientists have found a mineral stronger than diamond. They say lonsdaleite could be used to fortify industrial tools like drill bits and saw blades - AND teach us about the evolution of earth.What is the queen of all gemstones? ›
Opal: The Queen of Gemstones.What is the king of all gemstones? ›
Rubies have been revered since ancient times. The Bible and ancient Sanskrit writings regarded ruby as the most precious of all gemstones.What are the 12 holy gemstones? ›
The twelve sacred gemstones of Revelations are Jasper, Sapphire, Chalcedony, Emerald, Sardonyx, Sardius, Chrysolite, Beryl, Topaz, Chrysoprasus, Jacinth, and Amethyst. Many also believe that there is a clear association between the twelve apostles and the twelve gems from the walls of Jerusalem.What is the most unbreakable gem? ›
Possessing the highest shine of all transparent gemstones, diamond is the hardest material on earth that can only be scratched with another diamond. Its name comes from the ancient Greek adámas meaning “unbreakable”.What's the strongest stone? ›
Diamond is the hardest natural material in the world.
What is the most popular stone? ›
Diamond. It's no surprise that diamonds take the top spot of the most popular gemstones used in jewellery. Diamonds come in various colours including yellow, blue and green with red being the rarest, though the most well-loved is the sparkling clear diamond.What gem holds its value? ›
There are some rare finds among the so-called semi-precious gems that can be priced higher than the big three, but in general, a fine ruby, sapphire or emerald will hold its value and command more respect and a higher price than other gemstone.What gem is worth more than gold? ›
Diamonds are much more expensive than gold. However, red diamonds are extremely rare on our planet. Only 30 of them are currently known, and most of them do not weigh more than half a carat (about 0.1 grams). They are worth a lot, and 1 gram can cost around $ 5 million.What is the oldest gem in the world? ›
The oldest gemstone formed on Earth is zircon. In 2001, researchers found a piece of natural zircon in Jack Hills, Western Australia and dated it back to around 4.4 billion years.What gems are rarer than gold? ›
Red beryl is estimated to be worth 1,000 times more than gold and is so rare that one red beryl crystal is found for every 150,000 diamonds. In 1904, Maynard Bixby discovered red beryl in the Thomas Range located in Juab County, Utah.What is the most expensive crystal? ›
1. Blue Diamond – $3.93 million per carat. Blue diamond is a type of diamond which exhibits all of the mineral 's inherent properties except with the stone's additional element of blue colour. They are colored blue by trace amounts of boron which contaminate the structure of the crystalline lattice.What is the rarest crystal stone? ›
Musgravite is considered the rarest crystal in the world. There were only eight gem-quality stones mined in 2005. Musgravite is valued at nearly $35,000 per carat.Are emeralds rarer than diamonds? ›
At approximately 20 times rarer than diamonds, emeralds cost more in price. Even though diamonds pose as the rarest and most expensive gemstones, the fact is contrary to this notion. Emeralds cost more than diamonds, as they are 20 times rarer. Therefore, it is ideal for anyone willing to expand their jewelry budget.What are the number 9 gemstones? ›
The traditional setting and arrangement of these nine gems is shown in the illustration. A ruby (representing the Sun) is always in the center, surrounded (clockwise from the top) by a diamond, a natural pearl, red coral, hessonite, a blue sapphire, cat's eye, a yellow sapphire, and an emerald.What is the hardest gem ever? ›
Diamonds are the hardest stone, while talc (for example) is a very soft mineral. The scale by which the hardness of minerals is measured is the Mohs Hardness Scale, which compares the resistance of a mineral to being scratched by ten standard reference minerals that vary in hardness.
What gem is cursed? ›
The Hope Diamond
Arguably the most famous and most cursed precious gemstone in history, this 45.52-carat sparkler has a long and storied past. The Hope Diamond has been blamed for a laundry list of tragedies, including but not limited to: beatings, stabbings, murder, insanity, and suicide.
The "classic" bloodstone is opaque green jasper with red inclusions of hematite. The red inclusions may resemble spots of blood, hence the name bloodstone. A heliotrope, also known as a bloodstone.What is a unique gem? ›
In terms of the rarest gemstones known in the gemstone marketplace however, the rarest 10 are : Tanzanite, Paraiba Tourmaline, Color Change Garnet, Alexandrite, Red Spinel, Ruby, Tsavorite, Mandarin Garnet, Emerald, Padparadscha Sapphire.What gem is Rainbow? ›
Tourmaline, is often referred to as the Rainbow Gemstone, and according to an old Egyptian legend, 'tourmaline on its long journey up from the centre of the Earth, passed over a rainbow'. The reality is that tourmalines are made of mixed crystals of aluminium boron silicate.What rare gem is purple? ›
Sugilite, one of the rarest gemstones, is relatively unknown to people outside Asia. The Japanese geologist Ken-ichi Sugi discovered it in 1944. It has a distinctive purple coloration and is either translucent or opaque. However, there are variations with a light pink-purple hue.What is the most precious color? ›
Widely believed to be the most expensive pigment ever created, more pricey than even its weight in gold, the Lapis Lazuli pigment was made from grinding up Lapis Lazuli semi-precious stones.Is pink amethyst rare? ›
Because pink amethyst has only ever been found in Patagonia, it is considered a rare and valuable form of amethyst.How rare is rose quartz? ›
Rose Quartz is amongst the world's most abundant gemstones, so it is no real struggle to find it if you know where to look (in large part thanks to its distinctively pink natural appearance). In addition to North America, it can also be found in great volume in Madagascar, India and Brazil.Is dark amethyst rare? ›
Fine deep purple Amethyst is still fairly rare, though not especially expensive. The Zambian Amethyst has acquired the reputation as some of the finest in the world due to its unusually rich color.What is more unique than a diamond? ›
Moissanite brilliance is one of the largest visual differences between these gems and diamonds. Due to their unique faceting pattern, moissanites display a fiery, rainbow sparkle that can create a “disco ball” effect. This unique sparkle is why many gravitate to moissanites.
Are diamonds the rarest gems on earth? ›
While diamonds may be the most important gemstone in history due to power, trade, and influence, they are not the rarest stones on earth. While many stones aspire to the global influence of the diamond, these five are harder to find, rarer, and more expensive than Marilyn's best friend.Is A sapphire rarer than a diamond? ›
Still today it is the most well known and in demand colored gemstone. Royalty give sapphires over diamonds as engagement rings because they are known to be far rarer than diamonds.Is opal rarer than diamonds? ›
World's Most Valuable Gem
Gem Black, Boulder, Crystal and White Opals are the world's #1 most valuable commercially available gemstone, yet they are complex with an exponentially large range of valuation characteristics than Diamonds, Rubies, Emeralds, Sapphires or Tanzanites. is actually 5000 times rarer than diamond.
Quartz. As one of the most common gemstone minerals, quartz or rock crystal makes a very affordable diamond alternative. While its beauty will never rival that of a well-cut diamond, some lapidaries can polish a quartz so that it looks better than a mediocre diamond.What is the hardest thing then diamond? ›
The scientists found Q-carbon to be 60% harder than diamond-like carbon (a type of amorphous carbon with similar properties to diamond). This has led them to expect Q-carbon to be harder than diamond itself, although this still remains to be proven experimentally.How rare are black diamonds? ›
Fancy black diamonds and Carbonados are both extremely rare. Only one in 10,000 natural diamonds are colored diamonds and only a portion of these colored diamonds are black. Because of their scarcity, natural black diamonds and Carbonados are the some of the most valuable and most costly.What is most precious than diamond? ›
Emerald. Rarer than diamonds, emeralds are also more expensive than the same quality diamond.Are pink sapphires rare? ›
Pink sapphires were considered incredibly rare until discovery of new deposits occurred in the late 1990's. Today they are still considered rare but are more widely available and increasing in popularity. One of the more notorious and expensive being the Padparadscha sapphire which can cost 20,000 per carrot!How rare are rubies? ›
How rare are rubies? Rubies are one of the rarest gemstones. The rarest rubies come from Burma (Myanmar), due to their high quality and exceptional color. Good quality rubies larger than one carat are also extremely rare—and expensive.What gem has more fire than diamond? ›
Moissanite's fire exceeds that of diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald, as well as other popular gemstones. As a scientific measurement, moissanite's dispersion is 0.104, which means it has 2.4 times the fire of a diamond.
What diamond is black? ›
Carbonado, commonly known as black diamond, is one of the toughest forms of natural diamond. It is an impure, high-density, micro-porous form of polycrystalline diamond consisting of diamond, graphite, and amorphous carbon, with minor crystalline precipitates filling pores and occasional reduced metal inclusions.Is black opal rare? ›
Black opal is the most rare and highly valued form of opal, and has what is called a black (or dark) body tone. Black opals come in every colour of the rainbow. Their dark body tone makes the colours on the face of the opal appear rich and intense.