The World’s Most Expensive Gemstones – Top 10

What are the most expensive gemstones in the world?

I wanted to find out but a lot of the information online isn’t backed up by any data and you often see things like “they can cost up $X amount per carat” with no proof and that isn’t good enough for me.

So I did the research, just like I did for my most expensive lists and trawled through hundreds of auction sales records to find out how much some gemstone have actually sold for because with private sales, we simply don’t know how much stones sell for (even for someone in the industry like myself).

That is why there are some rare and valuable gemstones that aren’t on this list, such as Bixbite (Red Beryl) and Benitoite and for this post, I have just looked at coloured gemstones as I’ve covered the Diamonds in my Most Expensive Diamonds list.

I hope you find them as amazing as I did!

10: Natural Pearls

Natural Pearl Pendant
Marie Antoinette’s Pearl

We start this list with the most expensive organic gemstone, which is Natural Pearls.

And the reason why they are number 10 is that it is very difficult to accurately price them against other gemstones as the weight of the Pearls are never listed, which makes it impossible to figure out a price per carat (which is used to price gemstones).

But there are many examples of Natural Pearls, usually necklaces made up of strands of Natural Pearls that sell for over a Million Dollars.

And there is good reason why they sell for so much as Natural Pearls are very rare, which makes finding enough Natural Pearls of the same size and colour very difficult.

But the most expensive Pearl is a single large pearl that measures 15.90 x 18.35 x 25.85mm and was once owned by Maro Antoinette, this amazing example sold for $36 Million in 2018 and makes it one of the most expensive gemstones ever sold.

9: Jadeite

Most Expensive Jade Necklace
Barbara Hutton-Mdivani Jadeite Necklace

Next up is Jadeite and as with Natural Pearls, coming up with a price per carat is nearly impossible as the weight of the Jadeite is never quoted.

But Jadeite pieces regularly sell for more than a Million Dollars as Type A Jadeite, which possesses that stunning, deep, rich green colour is very rare.

In most cases, the most expensive Jadeite pieces are necklaces, such as the one pictured are made up of Jadeite spheres with the same colour and quality.

The most expensive Jadeite piece that ever sold was part of the Barbara Hutton collection and it sold for $27.5 Million in 2014.

But what makes Jadeite unique in the world of expensive gemstones is that they are only popular in one market, which is East Asia, with countries such as China and Japan placing high importance on this gemstone

This is why Jadeite is so heavily featured in the notable Christie’s and Sotheby’s auctions that are run every November in Hong Kong.

8: Red Spinel – $47,000 per carat

Red Spinel Ring
20.83 Carat Red Spinel Ring

The first gemstone on the list where I could actually figure out the price per carat is Red Spinel.

Often known by a rather unflattering title of the great imposter, due to how close in appearance Spinel looks to fine quality Rubies and Sapphires.

But in recent years, Spinel has become a popular gemstone, originally as a lower-priced alternative to Ruby and Sapphire but now more so in it’s own right as people appreciate the beauty of this amazing gemstone.

This has obviously had an impact on the value of Spinel as fine quality examples are rare, especially for desirable colours such as Pink and Blue, with prices per carat continuing to rise but it is Red Spinel that is most expensive with many examples selling for 5-figures per carat.

In terms of price per carat, the most expensive Red Spinel I found was the 20.83-carat stone in the picture above that sold for $47,000/ct with the piece selling for just over $980,000 but the most expensive Red Spinel piece sold for just over $1.6 Million in 2024, with a price per carat of $31,000.

7: Alexandrite – $69,000 per carat

21.41 Carat Alexandrite sold for $1.4 Million

Next is one of my favourite gemstones, which is Alexandrite.

Legend has it that Alexandrite is named after Alexander II as it was discovered on the future Csar’s birthday in 1834.

This amazing gem possesses a unique colour-change phenomenon where it changes colour depending on the light source, with it having a greenish colour in daylight and a reddish colour in incandescent light (such as candlelight).

This is why Alexandrite is sometimes referred to as Emerald by day and Ruby by night.

Fine, gem-quality Alexandrite with a good colour change is very rare, especially those from the original source of the Ural Mountains in Russia, which is all but mined out but it is still found in Sri Lanka and Brazil.

This means that prices for Alexandrite are very strong, with the 21.41-carat example pictured achieving a $69,000/ct sales price in 2014 but the $1.4 Million total price fell just short of the most expensive Alexandrite, which was a 23.19-carat Cat’s Eye Alexandrite that sold for $1.5 Million in 2011.

6: Pink Sapphire – $92,000 per carat

20.58 Carat Pink Sapphire

The first Sapphire entry on the list is Pink Sapphire and this is the most well-known Sapphire colour after Blue.

They are also very desirable and the bright, vivid Pink color makes it easy to see why as they are most definitely eye-catching.

As with many gemstones, prices for Pink Sapphires have grown over the last few years, especially for large gem-quality stones that have good colour and clarity.

This is why there are many examples of Pink Sapphires selling for multiple 5-figures per carat.

The highest price per carat that I found was achieved by the 20.58-carat Pink Sapphire in the picture above when it sold for $92,000/ct in 2022 but this isn’t the most expensive Pink Sapphire, that was achieved by a 95.45-carat stone in 2018 when it sold for $2.2 Million.

When doing the research for this post, I found multiple examples of Pink Sapphires that sold for over $1 Million, with the two most popular sources being Sri Lanka and Burma.

5: Padparadscha Sapphire – $97,000 per carat

Fine, gem-quality Padparadscha Sapphire
8.01ct Padparadscha Sapphire

The second Sapphire entry on the list is the rarest colour, which is Padparadscaha.

This stunning variety of Sapphire is mainly found in Sri Lanka, with stones possessing an orangy-pink colour that resembles the colour of the lotus flower.

But there are many interpretations of what colour a Padparadscaha Sapphire should be, which is why you see so many beautiful stones that are called Padparadscha, with nearly all of them coming from Sri Lanka.

This makes Padparadscha Sapphires very desirable and due to their rarity, they are also expensive.

The most expensive price per carat of $97,000 was set by the 8.01-carat stone in the picture above but the $780,000 sale price is nowhere near the most expensive Padparadscha Sapphire, this title is held by a 28.04-carat stone that sold for $2.4 Million in 2017.

4: Paraiba Tourmaline – $116,000 per carat

An expensive Paraiba Tourmaline
10.31 Carat Paraiba Tourmaline

Number 4 on this list is one of the most visually striking gemstones in the world, which is Paraiba Tourmaline.

Named after the region in Brazil where they were originally found, these stunning Tourmalines have seen a huge rise in popularity over the last few years.

As with Padparadscha Sapphires, there are many interpretations of what a Paraiba Tourmaline is, which includes various shades of Blue and Green.

The finest Paraiba Tourmalines have strong and vivid Blue colour, such as the neon blue stone in the picture.

There are also many Paraiba-type Tourmalines out there that share a similar chemical makeup but only stones from Paraiba, Brazil can be called Paraiba Tourmalines and this makes them very rare and very desirable.

Which has seen prices increase over the last few years and the most expensive Paraiba Tourmaline is the 10.31-carat stone in the picture, which sold for $1.1 Million in 2022, with a price per carat of $116,000 and was the first stone that is not one of the ‘Big 4’ gemstones that broke $100,000/ct, which is a pretty significant achievement.

3: Blue Sapphire – $243,000 per carat

The Jewel of Kashmir Sapphire
Jewel of Kashmir Sapphire

Coming in at third place is Blue Sapphire, which even though it isn’t the rarest colour of Sapphire, is most definitely the most desirable and expensive!

As one of the famed ‘Big 4’ gemstones, it is not surprising that Blue Sapphires are one of the most expensive gemstones as they have been a highly prized and valued gem for centuries.

Blue Sapphires are found in many places around the world, with the most desirable location being the region of Kashmir, even though the area no longer produces Sapphires.

And it is Sapphires from Kashmir that attract the highest price per carat, with the Jewel of Kashmir being the most expensive at $243,000/ct, with there being other examples of Kashmir Sapphires selling for more than $100,000/ct.

These are followed by Burmese Sapphires, which can fetch multiple five-figures per carat and occasionally six-figures, with the most notable example being a Burmese Sapphire that was owned by Elizabeth Taylor, which sold for $112,000/ct.

But it is not a Sapphire from Kashmir that holds the title of world’s most expensive Sapphire, that is held by the 395.52-carat Blue Belle of Asia, which sold for $17.5 million ($44,000/ct) and came from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

2: Emerald – $305,000 per carat

The Rockefeller Emerald
The Rockefeller Emerald

In second place is Emerald, which is another member of the ‘Big 4’.

As with Blue Sapphires, Emeralds have been an important and incredibly desirable gem for centuries and the demand for them remains strong to this day.

Once again, origin plays a huge factor when it comes to Emerald prices, with Colombian Emeralds commanding the highest price per carat by a significant margin.

So much so that the 10 most expensive Emeralds are all of Colombian origin.

There are many examples of Colombian Emeralds that have sold for more than $100,000/ct but the current record is held by the 18.04-carat Rockefeller Emerald, which sold for $305,000/ct in June 2017.

What makes this such an extraordinary Emerald is that it hasn’t been treated, which is extremely unusual for a stone of this size and clarity, the provenance of being owned by one of the wealthiest and most famous families in American history probably also helped the price.

But the Rockefeller Emerald is not the most expensive Emerald, that title is held by a 23.46-carat, Colombian Emerald that was owned by Elizabeth Taylor and sold for $6.5 Million at a special sale in December 2011.

1: Ruby – $1.2 Million per carat

The Crimson Flame Ruby
The Crimson Flame Ruby

Ruby takes the top spot by quite a margin as it is the only coloured gemstone to break the $1 Million per carat milestone.

And this impressive feat has been achieved by three amazing stones, with all but one of the top 10 most expensive Rubies having sold for more than $500,000/ct.

Once again, origin plays a very important part with 9 of the top 10 most expensive Rubies all coming from the Mogok region of Burma, which is historically the most important location for fine-quality Rubies.

The exception to this is the current most expensive Ruby, which is the 55.22-carat Estrela de Fura that was found in Mozambique and sold for $34.8 Million ($630,000/ct) in 2023.

But the most expensive price per carat Ruby is of Burmese origin and is the 15.04-carat Crimson Flame Ruby that achieved an incredible $1.2 Million per carat in December 2015.

The rarity of fine-quality natural Rubies combined with their status as one of the most desirable gemstones means that Rubies will continue to set new price records for coloured gemstones.

Conclusion

There are some impressive gemstones on this list aren’t there but were there any that surprised you?

This list also re-enforces the ‘King of Gemstones’ title that Ruby holds as they are so much more expensive that all of the other coloured gemstones and are only beaten on price per carat by very rare coloured Diamonds.

But seeing Red Spinel and Paraiba Tourmaline achieving such high prices does show that the market is beginning to move beyond the traditional ‘Big 4’ gemstones and appreciate the rarity and beauty of some other extraordinary gems.

I'm Paul Haywood FGA DGA, the owner and founder of Haywoods Gems, I'm a fully qualified Gemmologist and Diamond Grader from the Gemmological Association of Great Britain.

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