What Is the Most Expensive Gemstone?

When it comes to gemstones, price is always a point of interest. Whether a gem is up to grade, how big it is, and where it comes from are all discussed when determining price. If any of these factors are missing the mark, the value of the stone immediately begins to dip. 

That is why we are so committed to bringing the best of the best to our customers at Mark Henry. We understand that purchasing a fine gemstone is an investment, not just a quick decision to add to your jewelry collection. True gemstone consumers note the pros and cons of every piece and consider them carefully before spending their money. 

However, some gemstones go above and beyond the expected budget. Today, we’re focused on the most extravagant and pricey pieces on the market. What makes them have such a justifiably high price tag? Are they worth looking into, or can they be easily replaced by cheaper substitutes?

Come along for the journey as we showcase the prized possessions of the gem-lovers world and the best-kept secret of the diamond industry. You’ll be surprised by just how much the prices differ, regardless of comparable quality!

What Is Fine Jewelry?

Before we begin dissecting the priciest gemstones, we should explain what fine jewelry is. You’ve probably owned or inherited your fair share of costume jewelry throughout your life. 

Whether it was a pair of clip-on earrings you played with as a child or a necklace you purchased as a teenager at the mall, these pieces are meant to be worn down. You can tell when jewelry is not fine because it is not made of high-quality metals (real gold that is above 10k or real silver and palladium) and doesn’t contain any notable stones. 

These pieces serve a purpose and may have high sentimental value, too. However, we always advocate for fine jewelry because it withstands the test of time and wear and tear.

Exotic Gemstones vs. Diamonds

When it comes to the differences between exotic gems and diamonds, we always tend to side with the gemstones. This is because we love their wide selection of rich histories and colors. Exotic gemstones bring something fresh and unique to the jewelry industry that easily takes attention away from the often predictable world of diamonds. 

Why We Value Gems 

Gemstones are an amazing way to spice up any piece, especially those that are based on tradition. For example, engagement rings have included a single, centered diamond since their inception in the 1400s.

What if you traded that stone out for turquoise or Paraiba tourmaline? The blue pop of color and the touch of culture are unmatched, and they can also add a great deal of personality to your look. 

Fan Favorites

With our love for gemstones comes our passion for bringing them to the everyday consumer. That is why we utilize family-run mines in Brazil for our supply of the rare gemstone alexandrite and why we have only the finest Brazilian Paraiba Tourmaline in our collections.

We admire stones that have a more recent history, one that doesn’t span millennia. Since their story is still unraveling, we are allowed to be a part of its fabric! 

Since these gemstones are more modern than their counterparts (alexandrite was discovered in the 1800s, and Paraiba tourmaline was found in the 1980s), they are pricier than more widespread stones. With sources in fewer nations and even fewer mines with high-quality stones, alexandrite and paraiba tourmaline could both be considered expensive.

Alexandrite 

Alexandrite is famous for its color-changing property, turning from beautiful emerald green in daylight to a stunning red in incandescent light. This attracted its wide audience in the time of Russian Royalty, inducting it into a world of wealth and high status. Now, as it is gaining traction in mainstream jewelry spheres, its luxury is not lost. 

Depending on how clear of a change in color the stone has and carat size, alexandrite can typically run anywhere between $500 to $30,000 per carat. The average is $15,000 per carat. Bigger sizes exceed $40,000, but alexandrites over 5 carats are not common. 

Alexandrite has been mined in the Ural Mountains of Russia, as well as Australia, Tanzania, India, and Sri Lanka. 

Paraiba Tourmaline

This gemstone was discovered in the hills of Brazil only a few decades ago. It quickly became a gemstone staple, widening its definition in 2006 to include all copper tourmalines with high saturation and fantastic blue hues. It is the birthstone of October. 

Would you be surprised to find out that it is only around $5,000 per carat? This is because they are typically only found in fragments. If you’re lucky enough to come across a Paraiba tourmaline that exceeds 1 carat, the price point jumps significantly — $50,000 per carat. 

Diamonds

Common diamonds do not take the cake as the most expensive gemstone. They are around $15,000 per carat, including the most colorless and clear offerings. All diamonds are graded using the 4Cs system developed by the Gemological Institute of America. Price increases when all 4Cs (color, clarity, cut, and carat weight) are given high grades. 

Rarity Revelation 

There is a common misconception in society that diamonds are incredibly rare. This is not the case. Alexandrites are far rarer than diamonds and much harder to come across in both the jewelry marketplace and everyday life.

How many people do you know with an alexandrite ring? Compare that number to how many people you know who own a piece of diamond jewelry.

However, colored diamonds can actually be quite rare. They are perhaps the best-kept secret of the diamond world purely because they aren’t favored the same way that their colorless siblings are. 

The Colorful Conundrum

Fancy-colored diamonds are entirely different from regular diamonds. When diamonds are graded for color, they are graded based on how little color they contain. Diamonds with a poor color rating, somewhere near Z on a scale from D-Z, have hints of yellow or brown that make them undesirable. 

Fancy-colored diamonds are graded on how deep and bright their ravishing hues are. They have their own scale and come in brilliant canary yellows and marvelous pinks. This is where the real money lies and where the hidden value of diamonds can be found. 

Honorable Mention: Red Diamond

Not the most expensive, but the rarest colored diamond is the red diamond. There are only 20 to 30 red diamonds ever mined that are good enough to use in jewelry, which adds to its appeal and price tag. Red diamonds go for about $1 million per carat. 

Nitrogen and boron impurities are not to thank for their beauty, but rather carbon and carbon alone. A poorly formed atomic structure creates a bold color, which is rare. The 5.11 Moussaieff Red Diamond was sold in 2001 for $8 million. 

The second most expensive gemstone is the pink diamond, coming in close at $1.2 million. 

Blue Diamond

Here we can make the grand reveal: the blue diamond is the singular most expensive gemstone known to man. It is $3.93 million for every carat. In 2022, the most expensive blue diamond (15 carats) sold for $57 in Hong Kong.

Locations 

Blue diamonds are uncommon and have a very limited supply. India has been retrieving blue diamonds from the Golconda Sultanate since the 1600s.

The Cullinan Mine resides in South Africa and has been in operation since 1902, famous for its supply of large blue diamonds. The Argyle Mine in Australia, also known for its red and pink diamonds, occasionally comes up with a blue diamond. 

Properties 

Boron, in even the tiniest amount, is the reason for the blue diamond’s color, as long as its nitrogen quality is small, too. It replaces carbon atoms in the crystal lattice during formation, an incredibly unnatural process in and of itself.

The same effect of a manipulated lattice that occurs in the red diamond occurs in the blue diamond. Light is shown through the diamond in a way that gives off the appearance of a blue color.

Notable Sales 

Some of the most expensive blue diamonds have been memorialized over the years. The Smithsonian Institution owns the Hope Diamond, which has been beloved by visitors for nearly 65 years. Coming in at 45.52 carats, the rare gem is actually a blue-gray hue and is worth roughly $200-250 million. 

The Der Blaue Wittelsbacher diamond, 35.56 carats of blue-gray beauty, has been owned by King Philip IV of Spain, royalty in Austria and Bavaria, the Royal House of Wittelsbach, and a private diamond dealer.

The 1600s marvel was sold in 2008 for $23.4 million. After cutting off 4.45 carats, the diamond received a Fancy Deep blue grade from the GIA and was pronounced internally flawless, thus its recent sale for $80 million. 

What Are the Other Rarest Gemstones?

In addition to blue diamonds and the different varieties of chrysoberyl, there are numerous other precious stones that have sold for millions over the years. They include:

  • Black Opal: Found in the Lightning Ridge of New South Wales, Australia
  • Musgravite: The Musgrave Ranges of South Australia
  • Red Beryl (Bixbite): Found in the Wah Wah Mountains of Utah, New Mexico’s Paramount Canyon and Round Mountain, and Mexico
  • Tanzanite: Found at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in the Manyara Region of Northern Tanzania
  • Demantoid Garnet: Found in Iran, Namibia, Madagascar, and Canada
  • Grandidierite: Found in Southern Madagascar
  • The Pink Star Diamond: Found in South Africa

Is It Worth It?

Regardless of if the blue diamond is a feasible purchase for the everyday consumer, it holds its place among gemologists. Without it, the history of gemstones would be far more boring.

 

Sources: 

Fascinating Facts About Red Diamonds | Cape Town Diamond Museum

The Most Valuable Gemstones In The World | Luxe Digital

World's largest blue diamond, 'exceptionally rare' at 15 carats, sells for $57 million | USA Today

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