Which gemstones are the most valuable? In this blog post we'll present some of them and explain what exactly their value lies in.
Augustine Jewels specialises in jewellery using extraordinary gemstones. Our team consist of gemstone experts. No wonder that on our pages you will frequently hear about gemstones.
But there is a question a very simple question we don’t usually ask.
A question which you might think the answer to is obvious.
The question is as follows:
Just what are gemstones?
Think about it for a second.
One thing that comes to mind is that gemstones are various mineral crystals found in the earth. But that cannot be it: amber or pearl are also called gemstones yet neither of them is (usually) found in the earth, nor is any of them a mineral crystal. They are organic materials. Other gemstones like the Egyptians’ favourite lapis lazuli and opal, well-liked by the Ancient Romans, are simply rocks.
Interestingly, the definition of gemstone has more to do with culture than with science itself: a gemstone is any natural material that is used in jewellery-making. Based on this definition, there are roughly 200 recognised as gemstones today. Which of them are the most expensive?
The answer depends on a lot of things. Most people are right when they think that rarity is an important aspect. But other things – cultural significance, aesthetic attributes such as radiance or clarity as well as various imperfections – can be just as central to judging the value of gemstones.
The cost of gemstones is normally given in carats. One carat equals to 0.2 grams.
With this in mind, let me now list some of the most expensive gemstones in the world:
1. DIAMOND – up to $3.93 million per carat
When thinking of expensive gemstones, diamonds come first to mind. Indeed, diamonds are the symbol of wealth, of abundance and prosperity. However, it is important to point out that just any diamond won’t qualify as necessarily excessively expensive. In fact, white diamonds, and some coloured varieties like yellow and even black can be quite affordable. Of course, a lot depends on the purity of the stone and its intensity of colour. In effect, one can only talk about most expensive individual stones and not types of stones.
Nevertheless, there are some coloured diamond that, taking the average of their instances, do qualify as the most expensive type of gemstones in the world. Red diamonds are extremely rare. There are only 30 known red diamonds in the world today and most of them are smaller than half carat. Their rarity and striking colour make them be worth $1,000,000 per carat. The most expensive gemstone ever sold was, in fact, the largest red diamond ever found: the 5.11ct Moussaieff Red Diamond was sold in 2011 for $8 million.
Another coloured diamond variant that is extremely expensive is blue diamond. Whilst it is, again, true, that the actual price depends on the individual stone and that therefore there are blue diamonds which would not be considered exceptionally expensive, a flawless blue diamond is so hard to come by that the majority of gemstone experts take special notice when one appears in an auction. One of the most remarkable such sale was that of “The Oppenheimer Blue” in 2016. This stunning 14.62 deep blue diamond was sold by Christie’s Geneva for $57.5 million, which breaks down to $3.93 million per carat. Up until that point, it was the most expensive gemstone ever sold – in 2017 this title got taken by the pink diamond “Pink Star”, a considerably bigger stone at 59.60 carat (that is, not more expensive than “The Oppenheimer Blue” when looking at price per carat). Though pink diamond is significantly less expensive than its blue cousin, this trend is expected to turn now that its sole source, the Argyle Mine is Australia, is depleted.
2. JADEITE – up to $3 million per carat
One might not think about jadeite when pondering the most expensive gemstones in the world. A big mistake! Jadeite is the rarest, most vivid and most pure gemstone in the jade family – a gemstone family that holds a lot of cultural weight. Especially popular in ancient Chinese culture, it is thought to bring its wearer happiness, health and good fortune. Jade also used to be used as a symbol of class and wealth, no by accident. Real jade can be pricey, especially if it’s jadeite.
Jadeite can be found in many colours, including red, yellow and black but its most popular hue is green: the most sought after example of jadeite is of a pale green hue called “Imperial Jade”. Instances of it can be discovered in an abundance of ancient Chinese paintings depicting the emperors and empresses of China.
Today, the most famous piece of jewellery featuring jadeite is a necklace, formerly owned by American heiress Barbara Hutton, containing 27 beads of this precious gem. In 2014, Cartier, its original designer bought it back for $27.44 million.
3. RUBY – up to $1.18 million per carat
Rubies are famously expensive. Whilst their hue can range from pink to a deep dark red, its most famous examples are deep red with a stunning degree of clarity. Rubies are thought to represent passion and love. But they also have a connotation of power, being favoured gems of royals who have sought to feature rubies in their crowns for centuries (though, sometimes, they didn’t quite succeed and what they thought were rubies turned out to be completely different gemstones – read our previous blog post
to learn more!).
Most rubies come from Myanmar where they have long been part of traditional jewellery making. Rubies with traditional carvings from Myanmar have been discovered dating back to a thousand year.
The most expensive ruby to ever come to auction is ‘The Sunrise Ruby’. This 26-carat gem, which is almost perfectly red, was likewise mined in Myanmar and is named for a poem written by the 13th century poet Rumi. At auction it fetched $30 million, an astonishing price for a ruby that has yet to be topped.
Maybe the most beautiful and relevant part of the poem goes:
“She asks, "Do you love me or yourself more?
Really, tell the absolute truth."
He says, "There is nothing left of me.
I'm like a ruby held up to the sunrise.
Is it still a stone, or a world
made of redness? It has no resistance
The team at the luxury jewellery studio at Augustine Jewels pride themselves at being gemstone experts. We liaise with gemstone-dealers whom we have known for long year and working with them, hand-select gemstones for their hue, purity, and special traits. This way we can be sure to get gemstones for the best possible price for our clients – and we charge for them the market price of the stones. We know that each and every gemstone is unique, and they lend our handmade pieces of jewellery in which they set a special atmosphere and beauty. Therefore, whether bespoke or collection piece, we can guarantee the best and most fitting quality gemstones in all our stunning pieces.
Check out some of our handmade pieces featuring some unique and extremely valuable gemstones that we are particularly proud of:
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