Gemstones have different meanings to different people. Occurring naturally across the planet, they are often used for decoration, while many see religious symbolism, healing powers, and personal meaning in gemstones. The diamond is only one example of a treasured gem. Rare gems are valued for their charm as well as their size, grade, and color.
The most valuable and prized gemstones in the world today are:
Discovered in 1967, Tanzanite is found only in northern Tanzania in the Mirerani Hills (in just a 4.3 x 1.2 mile mining area). It has a deep blue-violet hue and has been included in jewelry since Tiffany and Co. started using it. Supplies of tanzanite are being depleted, so its value is likely to continue going up.
Opals in general are quite valuable, black opal topping the list in terms of desire and value. The stone is dark but has a surprising array of color. Most black opal gems come from the Lighting Ridge area of New South Wales, Australia. The largest is the “Royal One”, a 306-carat gemstone valued at $3 million.
A rare gemstone, musgravite was discovered in the Musgrave Ranges of Australia. It is an aluminum oxide stone with iron, zinc, and magnesium. Musgravite is so rare only eight gem-quality stones were mined in 2005. Valued at nearly $35,000 per carat, it ranges in color from translucent olive green to a greyish purple.
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. Red Beryl gems are typically small, while gem-quality specimens are only found in Utah’s Wah Wah Mountains. They’re found in shades of dark red.
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 and Sri Lanka. Value per carat is affected considerably by stone size.
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. Rockerfeller’s wife, was purchased for $5.5 million at a Christie’s auction.
A rare Burmese ruby was sold at $1.18 million per carat so, at 26-carats, it went for over $30 million at a Sotheby’s auction. 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.
The typical diamond is around $15,000 per carat and composed of pure carbon. It’s found in most engagement and wedding rings. 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; a 14.62-carat Vivid Blue diamond named “the Oppenheimer Blue” sold for $57.5 million at a 2015 Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction.
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