Which color stone is expensive?

Which color stone is expensive? - Seiko Inlaid Emerald Ring
Seiko Inlaid Emerald Ring (npleafage.com)

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As a jewelry designer and seller often working with precious colored gemstones, one of the most common questions I get asked is “Which color stone is the most valuable and expensive?”

The answer involves examining a rainbow of factors – rarity, color quality, carat size, historical significance, mining location and treatment levels. Red rubies, blue sapphires and green emeralds claim top billing for their beloved hues saturated with lumbar.

But interestingly, secondary gems in those same colors like garnet, aquamarine and peridot have soared in recent decades as sourcing expands. And unique neon bright showstoppers like Paraiba tourmalines seem poised to enter the big leagues soon.

In this extensive guide, we’ll survey the most prized and pricey color gemstone elite. You’ll gain insider clarity around record sales benchmarks, quality grading methodology, scientific properties and more. Let’s decode color economics elevating gems like pigeon blood rubies and Kashmir sapphires to quarter million dollars per carat stratospheres!

Most Valuable Red Gemstone: Ruby

Fiery hot rubies dazzle with an intoxicating saturated red color. Traded by ancient Burmese kingdoms, Mughal dynasties and nobilities across Thailand, India and Europe, magnificent ruby gems continue breaking auction records today.

What Makes Rubies So Expensive?
This regal gemstone earns a 9 out of 10 rating on the Mohs hardness scale – just under diamonds. Composed of the mineral corundum (aluminum oxide, Al2O3), trace chromium impurities give rubies their signature red glow. While all colored variants qualify as sapphires by definition, that gloriously saturated hot red color propels ruby superiority. More chromium equals more prized value.

Color evaluation focuses intensely on hue and saturation. Burmese rubies with vivid “pigeon blood” red saturation are most coveted worldwide. The historic term “pigeon blood” applies to gems with no more than 15% secondary hues diluting vibrance. Loupe clean specimens are extraordinarily rare over 3 carats – so clarity grades scrutinize inclusions under 10x magnification. Heat treatment to minimize flaws gets disclosed. Cut quality also weighs in for light refraction.

What Do Top Quality Rubies Sell For?
In the fine jewelry market now, unheated Burmese pigeon blood rubies exceeding 5 carats enter serious auction value territory. A 6 carat cushion cut Burmese ruby recently sold for $6.2 million – over $1 million per carat! Expect prime gems from famed Mogok valley mines to run $1 million plus per carat routinely. Even commercial quality rubies fetch $50,000 to $100,000 for sizes under 3 carats. Provenance from less famous deposits drops values, but Mozambique and Ethiopian locales gaining recognition command higher premiums lately.

In context – a one carat natural ruby of commercial grade might cost $2,000 to $5,000 on average. While a one carat lab-created ruby prices under $500, with rose gold settings starting under $1,500 total. So while exceptional auction pieces hit the headlines, beautiful ruby jewelry exists across the pricing spectrum.

Most Valuable Blue Gemstone: Sapphire

Gleaming glorious blues – sapphires utterly entrance gem aficionados. Adored by royals like Prince Charles who gave Lady Diana a stunning Ceylon sparkler, sapphires symbolize wisdom, loyalty and truth. What makes fine blue sapphires so expensive? We’ll illuminate next.

Why Do Sapphires Cost So Much?
Sapphires and rubies both register 9 out of 10 in hardness on gem grading scales – clearly durable! Sapphire colors actually span the rainbow, with all shades besides red rubies qualifying as sapphires. Most prized are the heavenly blue hues, especially medium to medium dark tones with vivid saturation.

While heated stones get discounted slightly, any irradiation and diffusion treatments artificially enhancing color should get disclosed by sellers. Sapphires commonly host natural featherlike rutile mineral inclusions, so clarity assessments scrutinize defect visibility. Ideal cut angles maximize potential brilliance for the rough crystal too.

What Are Record Sapphire Value Benchmarks Today?
In the quality gem arena, Ceylon blue sapphires over 5 carats enter serious auction price terrain at $1 million and up easily. These dazzlers from Sri Lanka fetch the highest carat premiums for their cherished cornflower blue glow in 100+ year old gems.

The current record holding Rockefeller Sapphire smashed precedents when it sold for $18 million – over $225,000 per carat! The cushion cut 62 carat Burmese Rockefeller Sapphire shone internally flawless without treatment. Kashmir sapphires also break records but surface so rarely few come to market. From Montana’s All-American mines, vibrant fancy yellow and Padparadscha pink-orange sapphires entice collectors too with great blues at lower price points.

Most Valuable Green Gemstones: Emerald

The verdant fire of Colombian emeralds has fascinated cultures from Cleopatra to the Mughals all enthralled with lush green stones. So what establishes emeralds amongst the most expensive green gems? We’ll decode key metrics elevating them now.

Why Are Emeralds Precious?
On the Mohs scale, emeralds rate 7.5 to 8 in hardness with inclusions common internally. Rather than eye clean clarity, three factors weigh more for fine emeralds:

Color – Bluish-green hues preferred to yellowish
Clarity – Transparency level, garden inclusion types
Cut – Maximizing color not size as vital

Vibrant blue-green emerald color comes from trace chromium and/or vanadium. These prismatic green gems form rather uniquely as hydrothermal fluids permeate bedrock, transforming into emerald crystals. Famed Colombian mines on the Pacific coast and Brazil dominate the emerald market.

What Do Muzo Emeralds Sell For?
For fine jewelry, Colombian emeralds over 5 carats with rich blue-green color and few garden inclusions run over $1 million per carat easily. The Gemological Institute of America developed specific grading criteria for emeralds based on their natural growth features.

Top “AAA” level emeralds score very slightly included, with medium to very slightly bluish-green color and minor clarity enhancement. Recently a 6 carat octagonal emerald ring sold for $2 million – over $300,000 per carat! So while commercial grade emeralds start under $10,000 in the one carat range, elite specimens escalate exponentially.

Most Valuable Black Gemstone: Black Opal

Opals dazzle with their spectral flash called play-of-color unlike any other gem. Scored between 5.5 to 6.5 for hardness, black opals stand out amongst the broad species. Mined mainly in Lightning Ridge Australia, these onyx-hued phenomenal opals showcase bright hues dancing across dark backgrounds for valuable contrast.

What Factors Make Black Opal Expensive?
Opals occur globally but Australia’s rugged outback produces over 90% of the world’s supply, from white opals to the rarer black variety. Formed in cavities from silica gel hardening for millennia, water fluid inclusions cause impressive play-of-color light shows.

Grading keys in on body tone, brightness, pattern and color contrasts. Vibrant fire black opals with red spectral displays command premium pricing, especially harlequin or butterfly stone patterns. Solid colors without dark or sandy body hues rate less valuable. Small stone sizes limit value too compared to gem opal cabochons over several carats, due to rarity.

What Prices Do Quality Black Opals Fetch?
In precious opal markets now, top black opals over $10k per carat enter serious collector stone range. Expect to pay at least $3k per carat for commercial grades with someminor imperfections. Local miners directly supply much of the global stock, valuing durability and brilliance over flawless traits. Opal’s delicate structure simply limits ultra clarity like diamonds as fractures frequently occur. But vibrant fire colors mesmerize!

Rarest Color Gemstone: Red Beryl

While legendary estates spotlight famous quarter million per carat auction gems, I’m often asked about ascending rarities predicted to surge next. One exceptionally scarce candidate glowing brighter recently is red beryl, found solely in Utah’s Wah Wah mountains. These watermelon-hued hexagonal crystals rate 7 to 7.5 in Mohs hardness with a unique raspberry lemonade glow.

What Makes Red Beryl So Rare?
Also called “bixbite”, red beryl forms from volcanic superheated pneumatolites saturating manganese-rich rocks. Crystallizing under specific conditions, these melting pot minerals cool into earthy pinkish-red beryls in ultra small sizes – barely exceeding an estimated 50 pounds globally! Top gem-grade cuts stay under 5 carats. By contrast, diamonds weigh over 1 billion carats annually for context.

Just a few dozen faceted red beryls exist on earth. With supply under 1kg, the minuscule gem grows more valuable and elusive yearly. Though softer than emerald and aquamarine beryl cousins, the sheer scarcity escalates prices.

What Do Cherry Red Bixbites Sell For?
In commercial markets now, one carat red beryls fetch $10,000 per carat on average. But in 2018, the Ruby Violet Collector gem broke records at 2.81 carats, selling for $227,420 per carat – over half a million dollars total! That’s well above equal size/quality sapphires or rubies. As the rarest range-colored beryl, red beryl will likely keep appreciating as supplies shrink.

Final Takeaways

Evaluating precious colored gems combines assessing durability, beauty factors, provenance rarity and designer appeal. While diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds take the commercial quality crown for classic hues saturated with fire, unusual options exist too. From radiant orange spessartites to neon blue Paraiba tourmalines, part of the intrigue lies in stumbling upon phenomenal gems no one else owns. Working with gemological experts aids the journey, valuing durability and ethics as well.

Rather than size or perfect clarity, focus on quality cut gemstones refracting your preferred colors vibrantly. Prioritize beauty, symbolism and above all – meaningful connections that will sparkle a lifetime! Please reach out if you have any other questions about selecting or sourcing exquisite fine color gemstones.

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