The 19 Rarest Gemstones in the World (With Photos)

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

The 19 Rarest Gemstones in the World (With Photos)

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Updated

Gemstones are fascinating, and some are incredibly rare. Take, for instance, painite, Paraiba tourmaline, and color change garnets. These gems are so scarce that you might hardly ever come across them. 

Exploring the world of rare gemstones is like discovering hidden treasures. These special stones are found in only a few places on Earth, making them highly sought after.

The World’s Rarest Gemstones and Where They Can Be Found

Some of the world’s rarest gemstones are not only hard to find but can also come with a hefty price tag. While many gemstones are readily available, a select few stand out for their extraordinary scarcity.

Let’s explore these exceptionally rare gems and what makes them so valuable.

Painite

deep red round cut painite
Painite provided by rarecreationgemstone

Painite was once considered the rarest mineral in the world. It has limited availability and was only discovered in the 1950s.

This gemstone is usually a reddish or brownish hue and can appear differently when viewed from various angles. This unique feature, known as pleochroism, is caused by the way its crystal structure bends and refracts light.

Painite forms deep within the Earth under high pressure and temperature. It’s mainly found in Myanmar, and its scarcity is due to the rarity of the right geological conditions and the challenges in mining these areas.

Red Diamond

oval cut deep red diamond
Red diamond provided by TaloreDiamonds

Red diamonds are found in very few places and in very small quantities. They’re known for their captivating deep red color, which makes them extremely valuable.

The red color of these diamonds is due to a rare occurrence where the diamond’s carbon atoms are subjected to intense pressure, altering their structure.

These diamonds are primarily found in Australia, Brazil, and Africa. However, even in these locations, they are incredibly scarce, making their mining and discovery a significant challenge.

Pink Diamond

round cut pink diamond
Pink diamond provided by ausdiamondvalley

Pink diamonds are known for their striking color. Their rarity comes from the very specific conditions required for their formation, making them one of the most sought-after gemstones.

These diamonds range in color from faint pink to deep, intense pink. The pink hue is believed to be caused by changes in the diamond’s crystal structure as it forms, a process different from what gives color to other colored diamonds.

Most pink diamonds are found in Australia, particularly in the Argyle mine, which is known for producing the majority of the world’s pink diamonds. However, these deposits are extremely rare and challenging to mine.

Serendibite

black opaque oval cut serendibite
Serendibite provided by gemsjewelers

Serendibite was first discovered in Sri Lanka. It has limited availability and needs very specific conditions for its formation.

This gemstone can range from a deep blue to greenish-blue color, with a translucent to opaque appearance. Its unique colors come from the way its crystal structure interacts with light, and it also has significant pleochroism.

Serendibite forms under high-pressure conditions within the Earth’s crust, often associated with metamorphic rocks. It has been found in just a few places worldwide, including Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Blue Diamond

emerald cut blue diamond
Blue diamond provided by Maitridiamonds

Blue diamonds are rare because of the very specific conditions needed for their formation, including the presence of boron, which gives them their unique color.

These diamonds have a striking blue color that can range from light to deep shades. The blue color is due to boron atoms being scattered within the diamond’s crystal structure, absorbing certain colors of light and reflecting the blue.

Blue diamonds form deep within the Earth’s mantle, where high pressure and temperatures allow boron to become part of their structure.

They are found in very few locations around the world, with notable sources being South Africa and Australia.

Padparadscha Sapphire

oval cut peach-pink padparadscha sapphire
Padparadscha sapphire provided by PlanetGemstones

Padparadscha sapphire is a highly sought-after gemstone known for its beautiful color that blends orange and pink. It’s rare because its range of hues is hard to find in nature.

This gem’s color ranges from a delicate sunset hue to a deeper pinkish-orange, making it stand out among other gemstones. The vibrant colors are due to the presence of trace elements like chromium and iron.

Padparadscha sapphires form in igneous rocks and are mainly found in Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and parts of East Africa.

The rarity of the perfect color mix and the limited locations where they can be mined add to the challenges of finding and extracting these gemstones.

Musgravite

blue and violet brilliant cut musgravite
Musgravite provided by HoorGemstone18

Musgravite is an extremely rare gemstone that was first discovered in Australia’s Musgrave Ranges, which is how it got its name. Its rarity is due to its very limited availability and the specific conditions required for its formation.

Musgravite has a range of colors from greyish to purple and green. The colors come from the gem’s unique chemical composition, which includes elements like beryllium, aluminum, and oxygen, affecting how light passes through the stone.

This gem forms in very specific types of igneous rocks under high-pressure conditions. It has been found in only a few locations around the world, including Madagascar, Greenland, and Antarctica.

Grandidierite

blue-gray oval cut grandidierite
Grandidierite provided by CecileRaleyDesigns

Grandidierite is a rare gemstone named after Alfred Grandidier, a French explorer who studied Madagascar’s natural history. It can only be found in a few locations worldwide.

This gemstone is known for its striking blue-green to translucent color. Its unique color and brilliance are due to its high birefringence, which means it splits light into two paths, creating a double image effect.

Grandidierite forms in environments where boron is present. It has been found in Madagascar, Sri Lanka, and a few other places, but mining it is challenging because of its scarcity and the remote locations of its deposits.

Pezzottaite

bright pink cushion cut pezzottaite
Pezzottaite provided by gemsjewelers

Pezzottaite is a relatively new gemstone discovered in Madagascar. It’s rare because it’s only found in specific locations and in limited quantities, making it a prized find for gem collectors.

This gemstone displays a vibrant raspberry pink to purplish-red color. Its unique color is due to the presence of lithium and cesium in its crystal structure, which also contributes to its intense sparkle and pleochroism.

Pezzottaite forms in pegmatite rocks. While it was initially found in Madagascar, there have been smaller deposits discovered in Afghanistan and Myanmar.

Paraiba Tourmaline

bright green-blue oval cut Paraiba tourmaline
Paraiba tourmaline provided by IvyandRoseVintage

Paraiba tourmaline is a bright, vivid gemstone known for its unique neon blue to green colors. It’s rare because it contains copper, which is not commonly found in other types of tourmaline.

The intense colors of Paraiba tourmaline range from turquoise blue to green, sometimes even glowing under light.

This glowing effect is due to its high copper content, which causes the gemstone to refract light differently than other tourmalines.

Paraiba tourmaline forms in pegmatite veins. Initially discovered in the Paraiba state of Brazil, similar gemstones have since been found in Nigeria and Mozambique.

Red Beryl (Bixbite)

octagonal red beryl
Red beryl provided by FlowingGems

Red beryl, also known as bixbite, is a rare gemstone that stands out for its striking red color. It’s rare because it forms under very specific geological conditions that occur in only a few places on Earth.

This gemstone has a vibrant, rich red that can sometimes have a raspberry pink shade. The intense color comes from the presence of manganese in its crystal structure, which affects how the stone absorbs and reflects light.

Red beryl forms in rhyolitic lava flows, where high temperatures and specific chemical conditions are present. The most significant deposits have been found in Utah, but these are extremely scarce.

Alexandrite

round cut green-orange alexandrite
Alexandrite provided by Blackpearlindia

Alexandrite changes color from green in daylight to red under incandescent light.

This gemstone’s remarkable color change is due to the way it absorbs and reflects light. The presence of chromium within its crystal structure is responsible for alexandrite’s ability to change color depending on the lighting.

Alexandrite forms in metamorphic rocks under conditions where chromium can replace some of the aluminum in the mineral’s structure.

It has been found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, and Russia, but high-quality alexandrite in significant quantities is rare.

Emerald

cushion cut bright green emerald
Emerald provided by EshliJewelry

Emerald is a well-known gemstone, so its rarity might be a surprise. It’s rare because of the conditions needed to form emeralds are very specific and occur less frequently than for many other gemstones.

Emeralds are famous for their deep green hue, which can range from light to dark shades. This color is mainly due to the presence of chromium and sometimes vanadium in the mineral beryl, which makes up the emerald.

These gemstones form under high pressure and temperature conditions in the Earth’s crust, usually in areas with rich deposits of beryl.

Colombia, Brazil, and Zambia are known for their emerald mines, but finding high-quality emeralds is challenging due to the rarity of the perfect conditions required for their formation.

Benitoite

cushion cut bright blue benitoite
Benitoite provided by TRIAMBIKAGEMS

Benitoite is a striking blue gemstone that was first discovered in California and is the state’s official gemstone.

This gem shines with a brilliant blue color that is often compared to sapphire. Its unique sparkle comes from its high refractive index and dispersion, making it glow brightly under light.

Benitoite forms in low temperature, high-pressure environments within serpentinite rocks. The only commercial deposit known is in San Benito County, California.

Taaffeite

pear cut purple and blue taaffeite
Taaffeite provided by UniquegemsworldStore

Taaffeite is a gemstone that was once mistaken for spinel due to its similarity in appearance. It was the first gemstone to be identified from a cut and polished stone.

This gemstone displays a range of colors from nearly colorless to violet, pink, and red. Its double refraction and pleochroism allow taaffeite to show different colors when viewed from various angles.

Taaffeite forms under specific geological conditions that are not fully understood. It has been found in only a few locations, including Sri Lanka and Tanzania, with high-quality stones being exceptionally rare.

Poudretteite

oval cut deep pink poudretteite
Poudretteite provided by gemsjewelers

Poudretteite is a gemstone first discovered in the 1960s at the Poudrette Quarry in Canada, named after the quarry’s owning family. Its rarity is attributed to its very limited occurrence and the specific conditions required for its formation.

This stone is known for its pink to violet color, offering a unique and attractive hue. The color and brilliance of poudretteite are due to its complex crystal structure, which affects how light is absorbed and reflected.

Poudretteite forms through a rare combination of geological processes, typically in highly specialized environments rich in lithium. While initially found in Canada, there have been few other locations reported, such as Madagascar.

Jeremejevite

round brilliant cut blue-gray jeremejevite
Jeremejevite provided by nooreilahigems

Jeremejevite was first discovered in the late 19th century in Russia. Large, gem-quality crystals are hard to come by, making this gemstone quite rare.

This gem can range in color from colorless to light blues and yellows. The colors and its high brilliance are due to jeremejevite’s unique crystal structure, which allows it to refract light in a way that creates bright, sparkling effects.

Jeremejevite forms in granitic pegmatites and hydrothermal veins, which are environments that provide the perfect conditions for this mineral to crystallize.

While it was originally found in Russia, other notable deposits have been discovered in Namibia and Myanmar, but these are small and extracting gem-quality crystals remains a challenge.

Blue Color Change Garnet

oval blue color change garnet
Blue color change garnet provided by RavensteinGemCo

Blue color change garnet is a fascinating gemstone known for its ability to change color from blue in daylight to purple under incandescent light. The conditions needed for its color-changing ability are uncommon.

The gem’s unique color change is a result of its complex chemical composition, which allows it to absorb and reflect light differently under various lighting conditions.

This phenomenon, combined with its high refractive index, gives the blue color change garnet its stunning visual appeal.

Blue color change garnet forms in metamorphic rocks, where high temperatures and pressures alter its mineral structure to create its color-changing properties.

These garnets have been found in a few locations, including Madagascar and the United States.

Tanzanite

oval brilliant cut blue-violet tanzanite
Tanzanite provided by MinigemsCrafts

Tanzanite is a beautiful gemstone that was discovered in Tanzania in the 1960s. It’s found only in a small area near Mount Kilimanjaro, making it thousands of times rarer than diamonds.

Tanzanite is known for its stunning blue-violet color, which can vary from pure blue to deep violet depending on the light. This color change is due to tanzanite’s ability to absorb different wavelengths of light.

This gemstone forms in metamorphic rocks under extreme heat and pressure conditions unique to the Merelani Hills of Tanzania.

The rarity of tanzanite deposits, combined with the challenges of mining in this location, ensures that tanzanite remains a highly sought-after gemstone.

About Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Keith Jackson is an avid rockhound who is constantly exploring new sites to expand his collection. He has worked as a professional Geologist for over 20 years and holds a PhD in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a Masters Degree in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a Bachelors Degree in Geology from the University of Connecticut.

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