When it comes to rarity among gemstones, Diamond is the standard by which all other stones are compared and in this post, I’ll be looking at some gemstones that are a lot rarer.
But why is everything compared to Diamonds?
There are a couple of reasons why:
- There is data to show how many carats of Diamonds are mined every year
- Diamonds are commercially very important (they make up the bulk of gemstone sales each year)
- Everyone knows what a Diamond is
The funny thing is that Diamonds aren’t actually that rare as a gem material (there are rare Diamonds though!) and there are many other gemstones that are a lot rarer, so let’s take a look at what these rare gems are…
But unlike many other lists, I will only be looking at stones that you can actually buy and potentially wear in jewelry (although they might not come cheap), not super rare gemstones of which there are only a few examples, most of which end up in private collections or museums.
P.S: I’m talking about colorless ‘Cape’ series Diamonds, not fancy color Diamonds as some of those, such as Pure Red are extremely rare.
1. Blue Sapphire
Even though blue is the most common color in which Sapphires are found, they are still rarer than Diamond, especially stones that are untreated and have good color, clarity and weight.
This is because there are only a small number of countries where gem-quality Blue Sapphires are found, with important locations including:
- Sri Lanka (known as Ceylon Sapphires)
- Myanmar (formerly known as Burma)
Small deposits have also been found in the US state of Montana but the most desirable location for Sapphires is Kashmir as many are of very high quality but there has been any commercial mining done in the region since 1889.
As with Diamonds, Sapphires can vary in terms of quality with lower quality stones being either very dark (nearly black in appearance) or very pale and higher quality ones have a more desirable color, even saturation and good clarity.
The second entry on the list is one of the most desirable and expensive gemstones on the planet and one that is rarer than both Sapphire and Diamond, we are of course talking about Ruby.
And even though Ruby are part of the same gem family as Sapphire (Corundum), they are significantly rarer and significant deposits of gem-quality Rubies have only been found in a few countries around the world, including:
All of these produce some absolutely stunning stones but by far the most desirable location for Rubies is Burma (now called Myanmar) as they have produced some of the best Ruby examples ever found and are the source of the famed ‘pigeon blood’ color.
The rarest examples of Rubies not only have good color and clarity but also weight as Ruby crystals that produce fine gems usually don’t grow that large and top quality stones weighing more than 1ct are rare and get even rarer as the weight increases.
Emeralds are the most desirable green gemstone and like the other two members of the ‘Big 4’ mentioned above, they are also rarer than Diamonds.
Part of this is because gem-quality Emeralds are only found in a few locations around the world as they require specific conditions in order to form, with important locations including:
But by far the most important location for Emeralds is Colombia, which is known for producing some of the best Emeralds in the world and ones that attract the highest prices.
Another reason why Emeralds are rarer than Diamonds is that mining for them is challenging due to the stones being quite brittle, meaning that care needs to be taken when extracting them and as with Rubies, top-quality stones with good color and minimal inclusions that weigh more than 2cts are rare.
Spinel has often been known as ‘the great imposter’ because top-quality blue and red spinels not only look very similar to top-quality Blue Sapphires and Ruby but were also found in the same locations and it wasn’t until mineralogist Jean Baptiste Louis Rome de Lisle discovered that Red Spinel and Ruby were different materials in 1783.
But Spinel has only seen a growth in popularity in recent years as an alternative to Ruby and Sapphire but gem-quality Spinels are rare and not only rarer than Diamond but also Ruby and Sapphire (which is part of the reason why they are a favorite of gemologists!).
Top-quality Spinel can have amazing colors, including:
- Red – very similar in appearance to ‘Pigeon Blood’ Rubies
- Cobalt-Blue – similar in appearance to top quality Blue Sapphires
- Pink – similar appearance to Pink Sapphire
There is also the famed ‘Jedi’ Spinel, which is usually found in Myanmar and has an intense pinkish-red color.
5. Black Opal
The next option is my personal favorite and one of the most unique gemstones in the world, which is Black Opal and it is also an incredibly rare gem.
Opal as a gem material isn’t particularly rare but most Opal that is found doesn’t have the play of color that most people associate with Opal as this is only found in Precious Opal, which is only found in a small number of locations around the world, especially with a black background.
It is found in Ethiopian or Welo Opal but the most desirable location is Australia and in particular, the Lightning Ridge Opal Fields that has produced the best examples of Black Opal ever found.
6. Paraiba Tourmaline
Paraiba Tourmaline are a newcomer to the world of gemstones as they were only discovered in 1989 and the stunning colors of these new gems soon caused them to become a very desirable gem, that soon had a price point to match!
The original source of these was found in the state of Paraiba, Brazil (after which the stone is named) and colors ranging from blue to green, with neon blue being by far the most prized color.
Somewhat confusingly, later discoveries in Nigeria and Mozambique of Tourmalines that had a similar look and chemical make-up are also known as Paraiba Tourmaline (although whether they should be called this is up for debate) but because these Tourmalines are only found in a small number of locations around the world, they are significantly rarer than Diamond.
7. Tsavorite Garnet
You may be surprised to see a Garnet on this list as they are thought of as a pretty common gemstone but there are many different varieties of Garnet, with the most common being Almandine and Pyrope, which are the reddish brown gems that most people think Garnets are.
And along with these common varieties, there are some very rare varieties and these include the Tsavorite Garnet, which is green in color that is similar in appearance to Emerald and gem-quality stones are only found in a few countries around the world, which include:
Weight is also a factor for Tsavorite Garnets as it is rare to find a high-quality stone weighing more than 1 carat, even though there have been some very large crystals found but in general, large Tsavorite Garnets are rare and much rarer than Diamond.
Alexandrite is another favorite of mine and is known for its color change, which gives it the name of ‘Emerald by day, Ruby by night’ as top quality Alexandrite will have a greenish appearance in daylight and a reddish appearance in incandescent light (such as candlelight).
Fine, gem-quality Alexandrite that has a good color change is incredibly rare and attracts a premium as only a small amount are found each year, the highest quality stones have come from the Ural Mountains in Russia.
Alexandrite has also been found in Brazil, Madagascar and Myanmar but colors and color change aren’t as good as the stones that were found in Russia.
Another ‘new’ gemstone is Tanzanite as it was only discovered in 1967 and soon became a very desirable and in-demand gem, mainly because Tiffany & Co launched a huge marketing campaign in 1968 to promote the gem.
Tanzanite is named after the country where the stone is found, Tanzania and this is the only location where it is found, which makes it a very rare gemstone and much rarer than Diamond.
Gem-quality Tanzanite is known for its blue to violet color, which can range from very pale to deep, rich colors and the finest blue Tanzanite, which is the most desirable has a very similar appearance to fine Blue Sapphires and many Tanzanites have very good to excellent clarity, meaning that you won’t struggle to find an eye clean stone.
Jadeite is one of two minerals that are commonly known as Jade but unlike Nephrite Jade, which is pretty common, Jadeite is very rare and rarer than Diamond, especially ‘Imperial Jade’, which has a deep green color that is similar to that of Emerald and is primarily found in Myanmar.
But there are other locations around the world where Jadite is found, including:
Jadeite can also be found in many colors, including various shades of green, lavender, black and orange, all of which are very popular and in demand and the better the transparency the stone, the rarer it is.
11. Padparadscha Sapphire
Even though Blue Sapphire is the most desirable color of Sapphire, Padparadscha Sapphires are much rarer as they are found in much smaller numbers and only a few locations around the world, including:
- Sri Lanka
What makes Padparadscha Sapphires stand out is their color, which ranges from pinkish orange to orangey pink color that is similar to that of the Lotus flower or a Sunset but there is a lot of debate about what color actually makes a Sapphire a ‘Padparadscha Sapphire’.
But the fact remains that the gorgeous gems are rarer than Diamond, especially untreated examples.
12. Demantoid Garnet
Another rare Garnet! And one which shares some similarities to Tsavorite as they are both green, only found in a few locations around th world and are usually quite small.
There are some notable differences between these two types of Garnet as Demantoid Garnets are found in:
- Russia (historically the most important source)
They are also more likely to have inclusions, notably ‘horse-tail’ inclusions, which are often used to identify them and they have more dispersion (sparkle) than not only Tsavorite but also Diamond but this can be subdued depending on the body color of the stone.
So there they are, 12 Gemstones that are rarer than Diamond but you can still actually buy and wear in jewelry.
If you were hoping for some figures for this list or it to be in order of rarity, I do apologize as this information simply isn’t available and I would be guessing, which is worse than saying I simply don’t have that information.
But I still hope you enjoyed this list and learning about some of the rare gemstones that are out there.