Gemstones are the ultimate add-ons. Any object they attach to becomes more appealing, meaningful, and ultra-expensive. When paired with emeralds, ruby, and topaz, plain metals turn into luxury items. Even something as simple as belts and keychains become grand when designed with pearls and diamonds.
But why exactly are gemstones treated with so much hype? What makes these colorful stones valuable? Below is a roundup of how gemstones are assessed and ranked. Find out which ones enjoy the highest value and which ones are most affordable. Read on.
Why Are Gemstones So Expensive?
Gemstones are utterly beautiful. Yet, their appearances alone aren’t what make them astoundingly expensive. Many factors affect their overall value. These include:
Scarcity breeds value. Authentic gemstones aren’t factory-produced. They emerged as a result of the natural course of time and nature. Their existence requires a combination of various elements, extreme heat and pressure, and a lot of time (around millions of years!). Mining efforts are also needed to source them out from the bottom of the Earth. Naturally, supply struggles to keep up with the demand for these precious stones.
Durability of gemstones refers to their capacity to withstand harsh elements, such as heat, chemicals, and more. Three main factors determine the durability of a mineral: hardness, toughness, and stability when exposed to different elements.
Generally, the harder the stone is, the more resistant it is to scratching. Collectors and sellers use the Mohs Test, to measure the hardness of a mineral on a scale of 1 to 10. Items that score 1 are easily scratched even by our fingernails. Meanwhile, those that score 10 are very hard and can be used to cut other stones.
On the other hand, toughness relates to a stone’s resistance to chips and breaks. This feature is evaluated using the fracture toughness scale.
Lastly, stability is measured by how long and up to what degree a gemstone can withstand extreme temperature and strong chemicals.
These three main features are what determine the overall durability of a gemstone.
Clarity is evaluated on the presence or absence of inclusions or blemishes on a precious stone. Collectors and sellers often use the GIA clarity scale for determining clarity grades. I1, I2, and I3 grades indicate that the stones have obvious inclusions. SI1 and SI2 indicate that the item has slight inclusions. FL stands for flawless, meaning there are no inclusions or blemishes on a stone even when using 10x magnification.
Least to Most Expensive Gemstones
Not all gemstones are created equal. Some are rarer, more durable, and purer than others. Naturally, some may come out as a little more affordable than the rest. Others may more score dramatic prices in the market. Below is a brief guide to knowing which ones are the most expensive and the least.
Top 3 Most Expensive Gemstones
- Blue Diamond
Blue diamonds are so rare they only account for around 0.02% of all mined diamonds throughout history. Their blueish hues are due to the presence of boron trapped within their structures. To date, prices of blue diamonds vary according to their cut, carat size, clarity, and even color. The richer the color, the higher the price for a blue diamond. The priciest known blue diamond so far is called The Hope Diamond, which was valued at a staggering $250 million.
- Pink Diamond
Pink diamonds are so rare they account for only 0.0001% of the total number of diamonds mined. To date, the biggest piece of pink diamond available is called Pink Star. It was sold for an astounding price of $71.2 million at an auction, amounting to around $1.19 million per carat.
- Red diamond
Red diamonds are among the rarest gemstones in the world. In fact, from 1957 to 1987, no red diamonds had been submitted for evaluation to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). This almost translates to saying that no red diamond was found within that 30 years. The stone’s rich red color is believed to be caused by carbon atoms that glide within the stone and affect how light passes through the diamonds. On average, red diamonds can be sold for around $1 million per carat.
Top 3 Most Affordable Gemstones
- Tiger’s Eye
Resembling the eye of the tiger, this beautiful crystal is believed to have healing properties. The stone comes in rich colors of gold and/or reddish-brown and gives off a silky luster when polished. What makes the tiger’s eye really enchanting is its beautiful chatoyant effect. You can secure a good piece of tiger’s eye for as low as $2, but ones with higher qualities may still cost you over $1000.
Amethyst is perhaps the most popular violet gemstone. Its color is due to the presence of manganese in clear quartz. Generally, amethyst can range from light purple to intense red-violet. The stone scores 7 on the Mohs scale and has a glassy luster that makes it fitting for jewelry pieces. It was once considered as precious as sapphire but is now remarkably affordable. To date, amethyst gemstones can already be scooped for as low as $2 per carat.
This common rock formation belongs to the quartz family and comes in a rich variety of colors, including brown, red, black, and yellow. Agates are commonly cut into beads to make rings, necklaces, and other forms of jewelry. On average, the stone usually costs around $1 to $10.
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