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The List of the World's Most Valuable Gemstones

The World’s Most Valuable (Prized) Gemstones

Some of the world’s most valuable gemstones may be ones you didn’t expect. The diamond is only one example of a treasured gem. Many other gemstones occur naturally across the planet. They are often used for decoration, while many see religious symbolism, healing powers, and personal meaning in gemstones. Others simply admire valuable stones for their charm and quality.

When we think of the most valuable gemstones, we often think of precious gems—diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds (the 4 precious gemstones). Don’t count them out. But the most expensive gemstones aren’t necessarily the most well-known (in fact, there are some gems more expensive than diamonds!).

The Most Valuable Gemstones in the World Today

Tanzanite

Discovered in 1967, Tanzanite is found only in northern Tanzania in the Mirelani Hills (in just a 4.3 x 1.2 mile mining area), not far from Mount Kilimanjaro. It has a deep blue-violet hue and has been included in jewelry since Tiffany and Co. started using it in 1968. Supplies of tanzanite are being depleted, so its value will likely continue increasing.

In 2020, Tanzanian miners discovered two tanzanite stones (tanzanite is made of the mineral zoisite and has a Mohs hardness of 6 to 7). One weighed 20.4 pounds and the other 11.3 pounds. They were sold to the government of Tanzania for $3.3 million (according to CNN)! 1

Tanzanite Gemstone Image

Black Opal

Opals in general are quite valuable and come in many colors. However, black opal tops the list in terms of desire and value. Most black opal gems come from the Lighting Ridge area of New South Wales, Australia. One of the largest is the “Royal One”, a 306-carat gemstone valued at $3 million. However, an 819.50-carat black opal, owned by Medici Collection, LLC, was verified in March 2020. Given that high-quality black opal can exceed $10,000 per carat, that’s quite a valuable gemstone!2

*Using that valuation, this black opal would be valued at nearly $8.2 million!

Black Opal Gemstone Image

Musgravite

A rare gemstone, musgravite was discovered in 1967 in the Musgrave Ranges of Australia. It is a beryllium aluminum oxide mineral with iron, zinc, and magnesium. Musgravite is so rare only eight gem-quality stones were mined in 2005, the year studies confirmed it was a distinct member of the taaffeite family

Valued at nearly $35,000 per carat, musgravite ranges in color from translucent olive green to a greyish purple and is desired for its brilliance and sparkle. It’s also quite durable, with a Mohs hardness of 8 to 8.5. High-quality natural musgravite can rival the value of diamonds and other precious high-value gemstones. However, lab-grown musgravite tends to be more affordable.

Musgravite Gemstone Image

Red Beryl

Consisting of beryllium, aluminum, and silicate, this mineral is colorless in its pure form. Coloration is determined by traces of other elements in the stone, which often give it a trademark raspberry-red hue. It measures a durable 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. Other forms of red beryl include a familiar green stone known as emerald. Blue (aquamarine), pink (morganite), and yellow (heliodor) varieties are also well-known.

Red beryl gems are typically small, while gem-quality specimens are only found in Utah’s Wah Wah Mountains. The Utah Geological Survey once noted red beryl is worth 1,000 times more than gold and is 150,000 times rarer than diamonds. According to the British Gem Association, the largest known faceted red beryl weighs about 8 carats.3 Stones below 1 carat generally cost $1,600 to $24,000 per carat but faceted reb beryls over 1 carat can cost over $50,000 per carat.4

Red Beryl Gemstone Image

Alexandrite

A type of chrysoberyl, this mineral changes colors depending on the light. In light conditions, it appears emerald, while in the dark, it is ruby red. Alexandrite includes impurities such as titanium, chromium, and iron. Discovered in 1833, it’s mostly found in Russia but also mined in India, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Madagascar, and Tanzania. 

Value per carat is affected considerably by stone size. Russian alexandrite stones that are 1 to 2 carats range up to $20,000 per carat while those up to 3 carats can cost $35,000 per carat. Even larger stones have sold for as much as $50,000 or over $100,000 per carat (that’s quite a valuable gemstone!).5

Alexandrite Gemstone Image

Emerald

An emerald can go for $305,000 per carat. One of the world’s most popular gemstones, its exotic green tones appeal to many. Most emeralds have minor imperfections but flawless ones can hit extraordinarily high values. 

An 18.04-carat gemstone, once owned by John D. Rockefeller’s wife, was purchased for $5.5 million at a Christie’s auction. The Chalk Emerald, one of the most famous in the world, weighs 37.8 carats (down from its original 38.4 carats). The 34-carat Stoteesbury Emerald sold for $1 million in 2017, while Catherine the Great’s emerald necklace, weighing in at 75.61 carats, was auctioned by Christie’s in Geneva for $4.5 million.6 

However, Elizabeth Taylor's 5-piece Bulgari Emerald Suite was sold at Christie’s in 2011 for an astounding $24,799,000!7

Emerald Gemstone Image

Ruby

A rare Burmese ruby was sold at $1.18 million per carat so, at 25.59 carats, it went for $30.3 million at a Sotheby’s auction in 2015.8 However, a 55.22-carat ruby auctioned in 2023 reached a record-breaking value of $34.8 million, making it one of the most expensive gemstones in the world.9 

Rubies are known for their vibrant red hues and range from pink to dark red. To many, they symbolize passion and a zest for life. They are primarily mined in Mozambique; the ruby industry emerged when a large deposit of stones was found there in 2009, further fueling the demand. The largest ruby stone originally weighed 101 carats.

Ruby Gemstone Image

Diamond

The typical natural 1-carat diamond costs around $5,000 to $8,000 and is composed of pure carbon. However, red diamonds can go for $1,000,000 per carat; there are less than 30 of them around the world. The extremely rare blue diamond can go for $3.93 million per carat; a 14.62-carat Vivid Blue diamond named “the Oppenheimer Blue” sold for $57.5 million at a 2015 Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction.10

Diamonds never go out of style and it shows in even more recent sales. In 2022, the 15.10-carat, internally flawless De Beers Blue diamond was auctioned at Sotheby’s Hong Kong for USD $57.4 million.11 The same year, the 11.15-carat Williamson Pink Star diamond was auctioned for $57.73 million (without the auctioneer’s fees, the raw diamond was priced at $49.9 million; that’s nearly $4.5 million per carat, which is about $1 million more per carat than the Oppenheimer Blue Diamond).12

Diamond

Experience the Jeweler’s Touch

Ranking gemstones by value can be fun. But if you don’t have millions of dollars to shell out, Jeweler’s Touch can help you find affordable custom jewelry with diamonds and other valuable gemstones. We provide rings, earrings, pendants, necklaces, bracelets, charms, and even men’s jewelry. For help finding jewelry and to learn more about our custom design services, financing, and appraisals, contact us today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are gemstone prices determined? What factors are most important?

The top factors influencing a gemstone's price are color, clarity, cut, and carat. Jewelers evaluate these four factors to assess the quality of the gemstone and determine its value. The price also reflects the rarity and current demand for the gemstone.

Which gemstones are becoming harder to find, and why? 

Gemstones such as benitoite, black opal, red beryl, and ammolite are some of the world’s rarest gemstones. They’re only found in certain parts of the world. Deposits become depleted and harder to find as demand increases. 

Are there trends in gemstone popularity? 

Gemstone popularity is often influenced by trends in fashion and technology. As trends evolve, the color and cut of specific gemstones become more popular than others. However, gemstones such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds remain timeless.

Do certain gemstones have cultural or symbolic significance? 

Many gemstones hold cultural or symbolic significance in certain parts of the world. For example, in Western cultures, diamonds are often used for engagement and wedding rings due to their association with love and purity. In East Asian cultures, jade is viewed as providing wisdom, balance, and protection.

Are gemstones a good investment? What makes them different from buying gold or stocks? 

Purchasing valuable gemstones can be an excellent long-term investment. They differ from gold and stocks because they’re not as easily liquidated and may take longer to find a buyer. However, they still hold significant value and can provide a large return for investors.

I inherited a gemstone piece of jewelry. How can I get it appraised?

If you’ve inherited a gemstone piece of jewelry, bring it to any Jeweler’s Touch location for appraisal service. Our GIA gemologists will view your jewelry through a 10X gemscope to thoroughly evaluate the piece. We’ll then give you an official appraisal document with a detailed description of the item and its appraised value.

What's the best way to care for and clean gemstone jewelry?

Clean your gemstone jewelry at home using a mild cleanser and a soft toothbrush. Proper jewelry care also includes storing it safely, removing it for physical work, and minimizing its exposure to harsh chemicals and sunlight. Bring your gemstone or crystal jewelry in for professional cleaning at any of our Jeweler's Touch locations.

Sources:

  1. https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/30/africa/tanzanite-largest-gems-scli-intl/index.html 
  2. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/98069-largest-cut-black-opal 
  3. https://instoremag.com/red-beryl-a-gem-rarer-than-diamond-and-more-valuable-than-gold/ 
  4. https://www.gemrockauctions.com/learn/a-z-of-gemstones/red-beryl 
  5. https://rapaport.com/magazine-article/alexandrite-the-great-one-of-natures-scarcest-gems/ 
  6. https://galeriemagazine.com/worlds-most-famous-emerald-jewels/ 
  7. https://www.christies.com/en/stories/collecting-guide-emeralds-cf3d71f0c10e4f9d95834b1b91e0e39e 
  8. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bethbernstein/2023/04/09/the-most-valuable-ruby-will-hit-the-auction-block-at-sothebys/?sh=78e058aa47e7 
  9. https://www.cnn.com/style/ruby-sothebys-auction-record/index.html 
  10. https://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonydemarco/2016/05/18/oppenheimer-blue-diamond-sells-for-world-auction-record-58-2-million/?sh=5cfbb258459a 
  11. https://www.lifestyleasia.com/sg/style/jewellery/the-most-expensive-diamonds-in-the-world/ 
  12. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2022/10/07/pink-diamond-auctioned-per-carat-world-record/8209350001/ 

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