Taaffeite: One of the Rarest Gemstones of the World
Taaffeite is among the rarest gemstones of the world. Only first identified as a separate gemstone in 1945, before that it was thought to be a variety of spinel.
What is Taaffeite?
The taaffeite gemstone (pronounced TAR-fight) is purple to red and was first discovered in 1945. Count Edward Taaffe bought a set of spinels and noticed something odd about one of them.
The gemstone displayed double refraction while spinel does not. Leading taaffeite to be the only gemstone that was first identified through a faceted gemstone.
Taaffeite is made up of magnesium, beryllium and aluminum. It is the first known gemstone that has beryllium and magnesium as major parts. Currently the only way it is used is as a gemstone. For which it is quite suited with its high hardness of 8 to 8.5 on Mohs hardness scale.
Just How Rare is Taaffeite?
This gemstone is almost exclusively found in Sri Lanka in alluvial deposits, along with fluorite and tourmaline. Rarely it is found in Tanzania and Burma.
Though it is likely that other African countries such as Madagascar have taaffeite deposits as well, but none have been found to this date.
The red variant is particularly rare, only about a dozen faceted red taaffeites currently exist. Despite this extreme rarity, there are literally millions of diamonds, it is not as expensive as you’d expect.
Clear medium to high quality gemstones sell for $2000-4000 per carat. Certainly expensive, but below what a lot of gemstones commonly used in engagement rings sell for.
Buying Taaffeite Gemstones
No enhancements or imitations are currently known to exist. Most likely because only collectors are familiar with this stone and they are not as likely to fall for an enhanced or fake stone. It is highly unlikely that this will change in the near future unless new deposits are found that will increase the popularity of taaffeite.
Taaffeite jewelry is almost impossible to buy, because most of these gemstones are bought up by gem collectors. If you simply must get a taaffeite ring or necklace your best bet is to buy a loose gemstone or even crystal and get it cut and set in the jewelry of your liking.
Taking care of the gemstone and what else you should be aware of when buying is something you’ll need to contact an experienced gemologist about. There simply isn’t enough general information available on this rare gemstone.