Diamonds, they say, are a girl’s best friend. That’s as maybe; whilst there’s no doubt that normal diamonds are desirable and expensive they’re a long way from the world’s rarest and costliest precious stones. Should you be lucky enough to find a reasonably-sized specimen of any of the six rarest precious stones listed here, it’s safe to say you’ll be able to buy as many diamonds as you like. And then you’ll be a girl’s best friend.
1. Red fancy diamonds
The purest diamonds are colourless. Diamonds which, due to impurity or imperfections in their crystalline structure, are coloured are called ‘fancy’ diamonds and are graded according to their hue. The rarest of all are red diamonds. The largest ever found weighs just 5 carats and was found in Brazil. If that doesn’t sound much, it’s worth mentioning that the price per carat of an uncut pure red diamond can be anything up to $1.9million dollars (about £1.2million). Suddenly those return flights to Brazil don’t seem so expensive.
Benitoite is a stunning blue coloured diamond-like precious stone that has, so far, only been discovered in the vicinity of the San Benito River, San Benito California (hence the stone’s name), Arkansas and Japan. Whilst breathtakingly beautiful and still somewhat rare, the good news is that diamond-cut Benitoite gems can be bought for as little as $400 (£250) per carat.
Serendib is the original name for Sri Lanka, the origin of this incredibly rare gemstone. Pale greenish-blue in colour you’ll need to search hard to find Serendibite; only three faceted (cut) stones exist in the world and the largest of these weighs just over half of one carat. Should you be successful the search will have been worth it; Serendibite is worth around $14,000 (about £9,000) per carat.
The Guinness Book of World Records names Painite as the rarest gem mineral on earth. Named after Arthur Pain, the gem’s English discoverer, Painite has so far only been found in Myanmar, Indonesia. Painite colours vary from pink to brown and like diamond Painite will appear a different colour when viewed from different angles. Very few Painite crystals are known to exist and even fewer have been cut into gemstones. As a result you can expect to pay around $1,800 (roughly £1,100) per carat for Painite.
5. Red Beryl
Who knew that red was the ‘Holy Grail’ colour for precious stones? Whilst of a composition similar to emerald and aquamarine, red beryl is extremely uncommon and discovery has so far been limited to a small area of Utah, America. The scarcity of red beryl and the financial implications of extracting it dictate a current market value of between $2,000 and $10,000 per carat (£1,200 and £6,300). Interestingly, red beryl of identical chemical composition can be artificially manufactured in a laboratory at minimal expense. Virtually indistinguishable from the genuine natural article ‘mass produced’ red beryl is worth about $7 per carat. No need to tell the wife or girlfriend that though.
How rare is Taafeite (tar – fight)? Ooh, roughly one million times rarer than diamond. Discovered in Sri Lanka in 1945 this pale purple gemstone increases in value according to the strength of its colour. Once again, red is rarest – fewer than ten specimens exist. Your everyday run-of-the-mill Taafeite gems are worth a mere $500 to $4,000 (about £300 to £2,500) per carat.
Maybe we need to wait for the January sales…