What Makes A Gemstone Valuable?

There’s no denying that gemstones are an incredibly beautiful part of nature. Over the past few millenia, humankind has figured out how to best showcase gemstones and harness their beauty, making them incredibly desirable. Chances are, most jewelry-lovers have a favorite gemstone or two, but there are some gems that are more highly coveted than others worldwide. That got us thinking: what makes a gemstone valuable?

The most stunning star sapphires are found in Australia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Photo courtesy of jewelryexpert.com

The most stunning star sapphires, like the lavendar one pictured above, are found in Australia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Photo courtesy of jewelryexpert.com

There are several factors that contribute to a gemstone’s value — some that fall under common sense, and others we had not been aware of until we started doing some research. One element is where in the ground a gemstone can be found. The three layers of rock in which gemstones can be found are igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rock. You can find out more about which gems are found in which types of rocks here, but in general, a gemstone’s value can increase depending on how rare the stone is overall combined with how difficult it is to mine. If particularly lovely gemstones are located deep underground, such as rubies or sapphires, chances are they will be considered more valuable than lovely gemstones that can be mined closer to the surface, such as amethyst or citrine.

However, this isn’t always true; a large, incredibly clear, brilliant purple amethyst is worth much more than a tiny chunk of flaw-filled ruby. It may be easier to access the amethyst, but its clarity & color are far superior to the ruby that takes much more work to dig out. If the ruby cannot be cut and polished in a way that will increase its value, then all of the work it took to access the ruby will be for nothing.

A beautiful example of a clear, colorful, natural ametrine stone. Photo courtesy of gemselect.com

A beautiful example of a clear, colorful, natural ametrine stone. Photo courtesy of gemselect.com

Another factor than can add to a gemstone’s desirability is its rarity. For example, the gemstone ametrine is a combination of amethyst and citrine gemstones. Ametrine only occurs when the perfect amount of heat and pressure are applied to the stones, and their mineral make-up is then altered, creating a stunning blend of purple and gold. This reaction can be recreated in a lab with no problem, but finding a clear, colorful specimen of amertine “in the wild,” so to speak, is much more difficult, making a clear piece of ametrine much more valuable than its equally-flawless amethyst & citrine cousins.

As with many other items in this world (such as items on eBay listed as “limited edition”), some of the most desirable gemstones earn their value due to the fact that, “no matter how rapidly demand for the stones may develop, the rate at which gemstones are produced is comparatively limited or fixed.” (WikiAnswers) Gemstone mines are also vulnerable to drastic weather changes, as well as ever-changing local politics, so a stone that may be easy to access now may be completely unavailable in a decade. Although the gemstone may not be considered “rare” today, its status could change very soon.

No other turquoise in the world has the same vibrancy as  Sleeping Beauty. Photo courtesy of garlandsjewelry.com

No other turquoise in the world has the same vibrancy as Sleeping Beauty. Photo courtesy of garlandsjewelry.com

A prime example of this type of gem is Sleeping Beauty turquoise. The stone gets its name from the mountain where it is mined, which “resembles a sleeping woman laying on her back with arms crossed.” (SleepingBeautyTurquoiseInfo)

Sleeping Beauty Turquoise is a particularly vibrant, pure blue color with very little veining or webbing. It is also one of the more stable forms of turquoise around, which means very little needs to be done to the stone to make it stable enough for shaping and polishing. It can only be found at the Sleeping Beauty Mine in Globe, Arizona, and once all of the turquoise has been mined from that location, that’s it. So if you are a lover of Sleeping Beauty Turquoise, buy some now  — while you still can!

In closing, we wanted to highlight some of the most impressive gemstones in the world. Enjoy!

The Hope Diamond, worth an estimated $250 million. Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute.

The Hope Diamond, worth an estimated $250 million. Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute.

 

The Dresden Green Diamond is 41carats and is the largest naturally-green-colored diamond in the world. Image by © Michael Freeman/CORBIS

The Dresden Green Diamond (seen here with over 400 small and medium white diamonds) is 41 carats and is the largest naturally-green-colored diamond in the world. Image by © Michael Freeman/CORBIS

The Imperial State Crown from The Crown Jewels Collection. The full collection has an estimated worth of over 2.5 billion euros, or 3.4 billion U.S. dollars.

The Imperial State Crown from The Crown Jewels Collection. The full collection has an estimated worth of over 2.5 billion euros, or 3.4 billion U.S. dollars. Photo courtesy of The Royal Collection Trust.

 

 

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