The Most Expensive Gemstones in the World – With Infographic!
Throughout history gemstones have been coveted not just for their beauty, but also to show wealth and prosperity.
Today most gemstones are quite affordable, however, there are still a number of very expensive gemstones. Usually due to a combination of high demand, rarity and beauty.
To find out just how astronomically high prices can get for gemstones, simply scroll down this page to see the full range of the most expensive gemstones the world has to offer!
Please note that prices listed for gemstones readily available on the market are based on high quality stones that range between one and two carats. Also keep in mind that some of our listed price are approximations, as these prized gemstones are often sold privately, and for undisclosed figures.
We hope you enjoy our compilation, and please refer to our accompanying infographic for a visual treat!
The Most Expensive Gemstones in the World Infographic
Jeremejevite – $1,500/carat
Pronounced ye-REM-ay-ev-ite, this gemstone was discovered by the Russian mineralogist Jeremejev in 1883.
This gemstone was at first mistaken for aquamarine, as the first crystals that were found were light blue. Over the last century some light yellow and even some colorless samples were found.
It is quite rare, only a few thousand crystals have been found and most of it is not suitable for cutting into gemstones. The light blue variety is still the most expensive color on the market today.
Blue garnet – $1,500/carat
Another elusive gemstone, blue in a garnet is only seen as part of the color pattern of color change garnets, though there are rumors of non-color change blue garnets.
The blue is not the vivid or deep dark blue seen in sapphires, but rather a grayish to greenish blue. Hardly a stone that will draw the attention in a room of people.
While blue garnet is certainly rare, not a single mention of the $1.5 million per carat sale claimed in some places can be found. Current prices are around $1,500 per carat for high quality color change garnets with a profound color change from a blueish color to a red or purplish color.
For more information on these beautiful garnets, including some pictures of the color change effect, take a look here.
Taaffeite – $2,000/carat
The red to purple taaffeite (pronounced TAR-fight) was first discovered in 1945. Count Edward Taaffe noticed something strange in one of the spinels he bought, it displayed double refraction, which does not occur in spinel.
This makes taaffeite the first and only gemstone that was discovered while already faceted.
Despite its rarity, a few thousand stones exist at best, it is not extremely expensive. High quality taaffeite sells for around $2,000 per carat.
More information on taaffeite: Taaffeite: One of the Rarest Gemstones in the World
Black Opal – $2,000/carat
Black opals are almost exclusively mined in Australia and though not particularly rare they are still quite expensive.
The main reasons for this is the very high demand and the fact that truly magnificent black opals are only a fraction of the total black opal production.
High quality black opal sells for around $2,000 per carat, though prices of $5,000 and higher are not unheard of.
Prices drop quickly for regular quality black opals, these can often be had for $100-300/carat and they will still look amazing.
Demantoid Garnet – $2,000/carat
This vivid green garnet variety, popularly known as a demantoid or demantoid garnet, has steadily increased in popularity over the last few years.
The downside to this is that with increased popularity usually comes increased prices, as supply is usually the limiting factor.
Unfortunately for us gem-lovers, the demantoid garnet is not an exception to this rule and prices are likely to keep increasing in the years to come.
Currently a high quality 1 carat is selling for close to $2,000, but prices increase sharply when dealing with larger size stones.
For example: a 5 carat demantoid garnet would sell for closer to $6,000 per carat!
Poudretteite – $3,000/carat
Poudretteite is a very rare soft pink gemstone that was only discovered in 1987 in Quebec, Canada. However, most of the found material was of very poor quality and mostly of interest to mineralogists.
Gemstone quality poudretteite only started to show up on the market in the early 2000’s, when a few specimens were found in Mogok, Burma.
Which is also where some of the most highly prized rubies are found. Most of the poudretteite that was found was incorrectly thought to be scapolite.
So it is possible that poudretteite is not as rare as currently thought. Despite this threat looming over the markets, the current price of a high quality soft pink poudretteite is in the range of $3,000 per carat.
Benitoite – $3,000-$4000/carat
Benitoite is almost exclusively found in California, USA. This purple blue gemstone was first described in 1907 and named after San Benito County, where it was first found.
Because gemstone quality benitoite is only found in a single mine in California the supply is extremely limited, leading to the sky-high prices we are seeing today.
Making matters worse is that the mine is not very productive and to top it of; stones of more than 1 carat are a very rare find.
So, small benitoite stones sell for around $500 per carat, while 1 carat stones and up are usually selling for $3,000-4,000 per carat.
If the crystals even make it to the market that is, because a lot of the uncovered material is immediately sold to collectors or museums.
More information on this rare American stone: Benitoite: California State Gemstone
Sapphires – $4,000-$6,000/carat
One of the best known gemstones on this list, the sapphire is also among the most expensive gemstones in the world.
Some sapphire varieties like white sapphire, color-change sapphire and some fancy colors are selling for a few hundred dollars per carat at most.
Others however, like Padparascha sapphires (orange sapphires), blue sapphires and black/blue star sapphires, will sell for up to $4,000-6,000 per carat.
With the recent rise in popularity of blue sapphires in the wake of the blue sapphire engagement ring of Kate Middleton, those prices are likely not going down anytime soon.
Musgravite – $6,000/carat
Discovered in 1967 in the Musgrave mountains of Australia this gemstone occurs in a few colors, most notably green and violet.
It is likely that a small part of taaffeite on the market today is actually musgravite, as it is extremely hard to differentiate the two.
In the early 2000’s only a handful of cut gemstones existed. In the last few years it has been found in a number of other places, including Madagascar and Tanzania.
However, gemstone quality musgravite is still exceedingly rare. High quality greenish musgravite sells for $2,000-3,000 per carat, while violet stones are even more expensive at around $6,000 per carat.
Emerald – $8,000/carat
Emeralds have been mined all over the world for thousands of years, so one would think they should be quite affordable.
Unfortunately that is not the case, despite the large amount of emeralds mined over the course of history, prices have always ranged from expensive to astronomical.
The main reason is that while a lot of emerald is mined, most of it cannot be cut into gemstones and when it can be cut it is often still heavily included.
Which means that eye clean emeralds are still extremely rare, combine that with their popularity and it’s no surprise that prices skyrocket.
An exceptional quality emerald of just over 1 carat will often sell for more than $8,000 per carat. All bets are off however when dealing with very large emeralds, which for this reason are mostly sold in (private) auctions.
Bixbite/Red Beryl – $10,000/carat
For this reason (and to avoid confusion with the mineral bixbyite) it is now officially referred to as red beryl or more colloquial; red emerald.
Just like emeralds, high quality red beryl is very rare and most stones on the market today are heavily included. These stones, despite the heavy inclusions, will still sell for between $500 and $1,000 per carat.
If you are looking for an eye clean (or even very slightly included) red beryl with a weight of more than 1 carat, you’ll need to bring your wallet as they will sell for more than $10,000 per carat!
Note: It is possible that prices are even higher than listed here, current prices for top quality red beryl are hard to determine due to the lack of availability.
Alexandrite – $10,000/carat
Alexandrite is perhaps the most beautiful color changing gemstone and certainly the most expensive.
Even though synthetic alexandrite exists, usually this lowers the prices for natural gemstones significantly, this gemstone is still very expensive.
A one carat, eye clean, round alexandrite that displays a clear blue-green to reddish-purple color change will sell for over $10,000 per carat.
Alexandrite over 3 carats is very rare and a price/carat of $30,000+ for these is no exception.
The increasing popularity of alexandrite in China and Japan will likely further inflate prices. So if you are looking to treat yourself or a special friend to an alexandrite you’d best not wait too long.
More information on this magnificent gemstone: Alexandrite: Russian Beauty
Paraiba Tourmaline – $12,000/carat
A magnificent variety of tourmaline named after the state of Paraiba in Brazil, where it was first found. This type of tourmaline displays such bright, vivid colors that it has been nicknamed ‘neon tourmaline’.
Though tourmaline is found all over the world in all colors of the rainbow, paraiba tourmaline still fetches the highest prices. High quality paraiba tourmaline will sell for around $12,000 per carat.
However, if you want to buy truly exceptional tourmalines you will need even deeper pockets, $35,000+ per carat is no exception!
There is a cheaper alternative, relatively speaking that is. Neon tourmaline found in other localities, most notably Mozambique, which sells for around $5,000 per carat.
Everything about tourmaline: Tourmaline: Gemstone of the Rainbow
Diamond – $15,000/carat
While diamonds are quite common compared to most of the gemstones listed here, they are still one of the most expensive.
The reason, of course, is the enormous popularity of diamonds. The amount of diamond jewelry being sold every year is staggering and seems to increase every year, as more and more consumers from all over the world join the fray.
Still, prices have been relatively stable over the past few decades and have even dropped a bit from their peak.
Diamonds come in a variety of colors and most of these colors are cheaper than the “regular” white diamond, though some have seen an increase in popularity and are not nearly as cheap as they used to be.
Red diamonds are particularly expensive, as you will see when you read the rest of the article.
Currently a flawless, D color, perfect cut 1 carat diamond sells for around $15,000 per carat. Prices for large flawless diamonds reach stratospheric levels, particularly if they have a history of their own.
Ruby – $15,000/carat
The ruby is in fact a red sapphire, but has been known under the name ruby throughout history. Just like sapphires, the ruby is extremely expensive due to the limited availability of high quality gemstones and its high popularity.
In the case of rubies this has led to a price that is even higher than that of fine sapphires. You can expect to pay around $15,000 per carat for a top quality ruby larger than 1 carat.
The price per carat increases rapidly when dealing with stones larger than 3 carat, but at least they are on the market, unlike benitoite for example.
The most expensive type of ruby is called ‘pigeon-blood ruby’ and is a ruby with a slight purple hue to it. Why is a purplish red ruby the most expensive type you ask? Well there are two explanations for this.
The first one is that according to color science, purple will bring out the red color more than other hues like pink and orange. The second reason is that when a ruby is placed in gold jewelry the purple of the ruby cancels out the yellow of the gold, leaving a vivid red ruby.
The goal in both cases is to have the ruby as red as possible. Basically the redder the ruby, the higher the price. Take a look here for a more thorough explanation.
Jadeite – $20,000/carat
Many other lists of the most expensive gemstones name jadeite as the most expensive of all. Often claiming it sells for 3 million per carat, but this is completely false.
Yes, jadeite is expensive and yes, certain pieces have sold for exorbitant prices.
The piece of jewelry they base the $3 million figure on is the “Doubly Fortunate” necklace, which was sold for $9.3 million in 1997 in a Christie’s auction.
However, this necklace has a total of 27 jadeite beads with a diameter of 15 mm. The exact carat weight is hard to determine as no official figures were released, but it is likely to be around 20-25 carats per bead.
Which gives a total weight of over 500 carats, leading to a price of $14,000-$16,000 per carat. This estimate excludes the diamond terminations and the 11 carat diamond used as a clasp!
Incidentally the $16,500 per carat figure is close to what superb quality jadeite gemstones are selling for today, which is around $20,000 per carat.
Grandidierite – $20,000+/carat
Grandidierite is one of the rarest gemstones in the world, with an estimate of just a few hundred faceted gemstones in existence.
While you can currently buy it at roughly $2,000 per carat these will by no means be high quality gemstones. They are often so heavily included that it is likely that the only reason they were cut was to satisfy gemstone collectors.
We’re not sure what the $100,000 per carat figure that is often touted on the internet is based on, but we’ve found no evidence so far that a 0.5 carat grandidierite sold for $50,000.
Still, it is likely that if a high quality stone is ever found it will sell for tens of thousands of dollars per carat, though just how much remains to be seen.
Apologies for the low quality image, it seems pictures of grandidierite are almost as rare as the mineral itself!
Red Diamond – $1,000,000+/carat!
The rarest diamond color of all, only 20-30 certified red diamonds are known to exist. Most of these are quite small as well, weighing in at under half a carat.
The highest price per carat paid for a red diamond was in 2007. In that year Sotheby’s auctioned 2.26 carat red diamond. This red diamond was sold for $2.7 million, which is a whopping $1.18m per carat!
If a larger red diamond ever makes it to a public auction it is likely that this price record will be shattered. This could take years though, as only a few red diamonds larger than 3 carats exist and the few times they changed hands it was done in private deals.
Until a few years ago it was considered one of the rarest minerals in the world. New finds however have quickly changed that.
Nowadays, while still rare, you can buy faceted painite for $200 per carat. However, virtually all faceted painite on the market today is heavily included and is so dark that it looks brown to black, rather than orange or red.
So, when a faceted red painite with high clarity is finally found it is quite likely that it will still sell for an exorbitant amount. Until that time it is impossible to place a value on it that will give it a spot in this list.
For the story on painite including a large number of pictures of rough and cut painite you can visit this AGS Thailand article.
For some reason many lists claim that serendibite is worth close to $2 million per carat.
Which is strange, as one of only three serendibite thought to be in existence before 2005 was sold for around $14,000 per carat.
Prices plummeted as new finds came to light in Burma. These new stones can be bought for under $50 per carat, hardly worthy of inclusion in this list.
There is one major difference between the first serendibite stones and the new finds though. The Burma variety is dark black, while the Sri Lanka variety is blue to blue-green.
If high quality serendibite is found in lighter colors it will likely still sell for thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars per carat. Until that time we decided against including it in the regular list.
How We Built This List
The prices listed for gemstones that are readily available on the market are based on high quality gemstones of between 1 and 2 carats.
Due to the rarity of some of the stones that is not possible and we have taken the average price/carat of publicly sold stones in the last few years (or even decades in a few cases). Keep in mind that some of these prices are an educated guess, rather than a hard and fast rule.
There are several reasons for this:
- The market for these is extremely small and prices vary wildly.
- Many of these gemstones are sold privately and prices are not disclosed.
- In some cases it has been years since the last gemstone was sold publicly, so their current prices could be quite different.
We decided against including more fancy diamonds, because otherwise half the list would have been diamonds in various colors. The obvious exception being red diamonds as the most valuable of all the diamond colors.
This list is a work in progress, so if you have information that shows prices are different for a gemstone, please leave a comment and we’ll change it as soon as possible!
The same goes if you think a particular gemstone should be included, just let us know the name and why you think it should be included and we’ll be sure to take a good look at it.
If you would like to know more about a certain gemstone take a look at our list of gemstones.