A number of factors plays a part in the invaluable prices of gemstones. All precious stones have been held in high value for as long as we know, but there are a few that stand out as the most expensive ones in the world.
The rarity and beauty of gemstones make them highly valuable, and they can fetch incredibly high prices at auction. Investing in gemstones can be a smart move for those looking for a long-term investment that will hold its value over time. Not only can gemstones appreciate in value, but they can also be a beautiful addition to any collection.
Unlike other types of investments, such as stocks or real estate, gemstones are tangible assets that can be held and enjoyed. They are also relatively stable in value and can be a good hedge against inflation.
There are several factors that contribute to the high value of gemstones. One of the most important is a rarity. Some types of gemstones are incredibly rare and may only be found in a few locations around the world. This scarcity can drive up the price, as collectors and investors compete to acquire these precious stones.
Another factor is the quality of the gemstone itself. Gemstones are graded based on a number of criteria, including colour, clarity, and cut. A flawless, perfectly cut gemstone with vibrant colour will be much more valuable than a stone with visible inclusions or dull colour.
Whether you are a collector or an investor, there are many reasons to consider adding gemstones to your portfolio. With their rarity, beauty, and value, these precious stones are truly priceless. With over 200 types of gemstones to ever be recorded, here are the most expensive ones in the world.
10 of the most expensive gemstones in the world
Price: up to US$15,000 per carat
Starting with every girl’s best friend, diamonds are a ubiquitous treasure that earned their fame through the betrothal of Archduke Maximillian of Austria to Mary of Burgundy in 1477. He commissioned the first-ever diamond engagement ring on record, and soon, every European nobility joined this trend. To this day, it remains to be tradition to gift women with a diamond ring to signify the couple’s commitment to one another.
The most priceless white diamond to ever exist is the Kohinoor, so much so that it truly does not have a price tag. Meaning “Mountain of Light” in Persian, the diamond has had its fair share of controversies, from its discovery to its current ownership. Part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, the Kohinoor originated from India. Countries such as India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan have claimed ownership and demanded its return—but the British government has denied these claims, noting that it was legally obtained.
Price: up to US$16,000 per carat
Though they may be some of the most commonly-found coloured diamonds, yellow diamonds are still among the most expensive gemstones in the world. The most sought-after hue is the canary yellow, which is officially classified as pure fancy yellow diamonds, and these can go up to US$16,000 per carat.
The most expensive one to date is the Graff Vivid Yellow diamond, which was sold for US$16.3 million for 100.09 carats. Prior to its auction, however, analysts estimated the piece to be sold at US$21 million. Of similar calibre is the Tiffany Yellow Diamond, one of the largest ones to be discovered. Permanently residing at Tiffany & Co.‘s flagship store at New York City, this diamond has only been worn by four women: American diplomat Mary Whitehouse at the 1975 Tiffany Ball; Audrey Hepburn for Breakfast at Tiffany’s; Lady Gaga at the 91st Academy Award; and Beyonce—the first Black woman to adorn this jewel—in a collaboration with Tiffany.
Price: up to US$18,000 per carat
First discovered in 1902 in Sri Lanka, this precious stone was most recently detected in the Mogok area of Myanmar. Serendibites are a combination of calcium, magnesium, aluminum, silicon, boron and oxygen, and although it does not look like your other precious stones, serendibite is truly a rare gemstone. In fact, it is super rare that it has only ever been mined three times, with all specimens measuring under a carat each. Serendibites can emit a range of colours, deep blue, black, to even green. Ones mined from Sri Lanka can also arrive in an attractive violet-blue hue.
Price: up to US$20,000 per carat
This priceless gem was originally found in Southern Madagascar. Depending on how you look at this stone, you may see a world of colours varying from bluish-green, and dark green, to even pale yellow. Though it’s a stunning sight to behold, jewellery made of this precious rock is few and far between, with synthetic versions created for research purposes only.
Though its hardness makes it suitable for jewellery, there aren’t many gem-quality rocks mined out of the deposits. So finding jewellery made with this expensive stone is going to be a rarity.
Price: up to US$60,000 per carat
The most expensive non-diamond gemstone is the painite, and it’s one that few have heard of. To say that this brick-toned bijou is rare is an understatement. Since its discovery in 1951, the next decades saw only two specimens. More recently, two mines were opened in Myanmar dedicated to painite, but it remains a rarity still, with only less than 1,00 gemstones. It’s not only the rarest gemstone on Earth—it’s also the rarest mineral.
Price: up to US$70,000 per carat
First discovered in Russia, alexandrites’ prices vary according to their size. Because bigger chunks are a rarity, the price can go up exponentially. For starters, smaller pieces can fetch a price of US$15,000 a pop. Although this stone has been found in other regions such as Tanzania and Sri Lanka, the size remains a pricing factor.
The largest one to date—at 65.7 carats—is currently being housed at the Smithsonian Institute, and you can see them here. You can use your imagination as to the price of this historical find, but it’s most probably staying at the Smithsonian.
Price: up to US$305,000 per carat
Marked as the May birthstone, this well-known rock is one of the most expensive gemstones in the world. Although it may come across as common, it remains to be one with the biggest price tag. With its captivating green hue, it’s no surprise that this coveted gemstone has become one of the world’s go-to precious stones to adorn themselves with.
Many in the market feature minor imperfections. Flawless emeralds are rare, and when one is found, it’s typically sold at an overwhelming price. One such piece is the Rockefeller Emerald, an 18.04-carat rock purchased by John D. Rockefeller for his wife. It later found itself at a Christie’s auction table, and sold for a record-breaking US$5.5 million.
Price: up to US$1 million per carat
Red is the rarest colour for a diamond, which can come in a rainbow of tints. Due to its rarity, the red diamond is easily one of the most expensive gemstones in the world. To this day, there are only about 20-30 red diamonds exist. Colours in diamonds are usually the aftereffects of impurities. However, for red and pink diamonds, this tint comes from minor defects in the lattice structure.
The largest red diamond ever sold was sold at the hefty price of US$8 million, at US$1.6 million per carat.
Price: US$1.19 million per carat
Similar to the red diamond, the pink diamond also derives its colour from minor defects. Mostly mined at the Argyle mine in Australia, this diamond is highly coveted due to its romantic rosy shade. While the cost for this gemstone can be steep, you can get a friendlier price when the diamonds are mined outside of the Argyle mine.
The most expensive pink diamond sold was priced at US$57.7 million at the Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction in October 2022. Dubbed the Williamson Pink Star, the cushion-shaped diamond is noted to have a “fancy vivid pink” tone and is “internally flawless”.
Price up to US$3.93 million per carat
You won’t be able to find a blue diamond outside of an auction house—that’s how rare this gemstone is. And when it does get slated for auction, scores of collectors and private buyers will swarm for a chance of adding it to their collection. There are only a few mines in the world that mine blue diamonds—Australia, India, and South Africa.
The most expensive blue diamond so far is the Oppenheimer Blue Diamond, which was sold at a mind-blowing US$57.5 million. On the other hand, the most famous one is currently residing at the Smithsonian. The Hope Diamond weighs 45.2 carats and has a price estimation of US$250 million.
[Featured image credit: Christie’s; Hero image credit: Unsplash]
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: Since it’s discovery in 1951, there have been only two specimens of this ultra-rare gem: Painite. By 2004, there were less than two dozens. Even with dedicated efforts, there are still less than 1,000 painite gemstones. As of 2004, only two had been made into jewellery-grade gemstones.
Answer: Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but the most expensive gem is the painite, fetching a price as exorbitant as US$50,000 to US$60,000 (approx. RM225,000 to RM270,000) per carat.
Answer: Costing nearly US$4 million (approx. RM18 million) per carat, the blue diamond unseated the previous most expensive gemstone, the Pink Star diamond, which was priced at US$1.2 million (approx. RM5.4 million) per carat.