The 10 Most Expensive Gemstones

All through history humans have worn jewellery and placed value on pretty things. The first necklaces and bracelets were made of bits of shell, rocks and even bone left over from hunting expeditions. No one knows when man first discovered gemstones but in early civilizations they made them into amulets and were thought to hold power. Some people still believe gemstones can have power and meaning. Amethyst is the birthstone for the month of February, the stone is used by healers and thought to help insomnia and bring pleasant dreams by keeping it under a pillow at night. Others are worn to bring financial gain, luck and to ward off evil.

Crystals take millions of years to form in the rock, and only a small percentage of precious stones are ever found, mined, cut and sold as expensive jewellery. The value of a gemstone is determined by many factors including cut, size and clarity. They are divided into two categories, diamonds and colored gemstones. The rubies, pearls, emeralds and sapphires are all classified as colored gemstones. These gems are well-known in our culture as being valuable and coveted, but these stones are not the rarest and most expensive ones on the market.

Diamonds can be found in different areas around the world, but some of the rarest gems have only been found in a single location. Diamonds may be sparkly and look beautiful made into almost anything but for the wealthy it may be time to consider something a little more exotic. There are plenty of hidden treasures to be found, each with different characteristics and beauty. For the purposes of this list, the cost of the gemstones is estimated on the value of a single carat.

10 Tanzanite: $600 - $1,000

Tanzanite is a blue stone with a purplish hue and is only found in Tanzania, which is how the stone got its name. The stone was hidden in a rock bed unseen from eyes of man until 1967, when a Masai shepherds found them sparkling in the sun and picked them up. The technical correct term for the stone is blue zoisite but it was changed because it was too close to the British word suicide, so Tanzanite became the popular trade name. The first Tanzanites were sold from Tiffany's in New York, two years after their discovery. The gemstone quickly became a favorite. The stone has softer properties and can scratch easier than other precious stones, so it shouldn't be worn frequently to avoid damage.

9 Taaffeite: $1,500 - $2,500

Taaffeite is one of the rarest of the gemstones, only a few have been found and many have been misidentified as spinel. Sri Lanka and Tanzania are the only known places the gems have been mined but due to geological connection between the found deposits, miners expect to discover some in Madagascar as well. The stone got its name because it was discovered in 1945 by a gemologist by Count Taafffe. The stone thought to be spinel but had different properties and testing revealed it to be a previously unknown mineral. It was another four years before another one was discovered in Sri Lanka and ten years before a third was found. Taaffeite is an almost colorless red, purple or blue stone, that usually looks clear.

8 Black Opal: $2,355

Opal is a beautiful gemstone that comes in many different types, the average stones don't have much value and are commonly found throughout the world, but precious opal stones can rival the costs of the more expensive rubies and diamonds. Precious opal can contain every color in the spectrum in a single stone and changes as its turned in the light. It can sparkle more brightly than the best diamonds. The most expensive black opal stones are usually found in Australia, and contain a black or dark green base color but have bright colors that stand out to give this stone a beautiful pattern. They are one of the softest stones and work best as brooches or earring to avoid getting scratched.

7 Benitoite: $3,000 - $4,000

This stone was first discovered along the San Benito River, California in 1907. It can look either purple or blue and under a UV light the stone shines a brilliant chalky blue color.  Although some stones have been found in Arkansas and Japan, the only commercial mining is in San Benito county, making it the official gemstone of California. The stone is a collectors gem and made into jewellery, although rarely found in sizes above a carat.  Benitoite over 2 carats can sell for $10,000.

6 Red Beryl: $10,000

This rare gemstone has gone by different names: bixbite, red emerald or red beryl. The stone is so rare that a single one is found for every 150,000 diamonds found. The stone was discovered in Utah in 1904. Today the gemstone has only been found in three locations around the world, the Thomas Range, the WahWah mountain range in Utah and the Black range in New Mexico. It is known for being 1,000 times more valuable than gold.

5 Alexandrite: $12,000

Alexandrite is a rare color changing gemstone that looks green in the sunlight and red in lamplight. It is often referred as emerald by day and ruby by night. The stone was discovered in the 1830's in Russia's Ural Mountains and is mined today in Sri Lanka, Brazil and East Africa. The gemstone is one of the birthstones for June along with Moonstone and Pearl, and is the gem given for 55th wedding anniversaries. The stone was originally thought to be mined out after the supply in the Ural Mountains was gone.

4 Jadeite: $20,000

Jadeite may sound like the semi-precious stones commonly known as Jade but this gem is much more valuable and rare. In 1997, Christie's auction house sold a Jadeite necklace for $10 million and imperial quality stones can sell for millions per carat. Unfortunately some jewelers have passed off color treated stones as the real thing. The supply is in Myanmar but has almost been exhausted and the prices are likely to continue to soar. Mining of Jadeite may be finished in 10-20 years.

3 Musgravite: $35,000

This incredibly rare gemstone is in the same family as Taaffeite and until 2005 only eight known samples were found. It was discovered in 1967 in the Musgrave Range in Southern Australia, but recent gems have been uncovered in Greenland, Antarctica, Sri Lanka, Madagascar and Tanzania. Despite the recent findings, the gem is incredibly rare, it is thought that some of the gemstones previously identified as Taaffeite are actually Musgravite because it is incredibly hard to tell the two apart without testing the composition.

2 Painite: $50,000 - $60,000

Painite was first discovered in 1950 in Burma, and for a long time only two known examples existed. After 2002, more samples have been discovered in Myanmar and Burma. Several thousand stones were found but only a few have been faceted, making it one of the rarest gems. Its an orange or red-brown stone that would be difficult to find on the market even today, making it priceless. Painite was named after the British gemologist Arthur Pain who discovered it. Until 2002 it was considered the rarest gem on earth.

1 Pink Star Diamond: $1.4 Million

The Pink Star Diamond is a single flawless fancy vivid pink diamond mined in 1999 in South Africa. It weighs 59.6 carats and was sold in a November auction at Sotheby's for $83 million dollars, that's $1.4 million per carat. The price is higher than any gem or diamond ever sold at auction. Colored diamonds are worth much more than their clear counterparts and the average pink diamond is under five carats, or 12 times less than the Pink Star.

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