Myths and legends

Which gemstone is most valued?

What features of precious stones make them stand out from the general mass of rocks and minerals?
It is necessary to immediately indicate that the expression “precious stone” is a product of purely human conventions that are not characteristic of nature, since nature does not select favorites among its children. For her, there is no significant difference between diamond and, for example, its brother graphite, which have the same chemical composition. But a person has a number of criteria by which it is determined whether a stone belongs to a precious stone or not, and its place in the hierarchy of precious stones.
These are the criteria: 1. Beauty, expressed in the optical features of the stone. Optical features mean:
• stone color;
• unique design;
• reverse (ability to change color);
• birefringence (the ability to split a ray entering a stone into two rays);
• refractive index (change in the direction of the light beam at the point of contact with the surface of the stone from its original flight path);
• the presence of various effects: asterism (when illuminated, the appearance of a star-shaped figure on a crystal processed in the form of a sphere or hemisphere), iridescence (rainbow color play), aventurescence (color play of brilliant reflections of light from scaly inclusions on opaque stones), etc. .;
• transparency;
• resistance to sunlight (the ability to maintain its color for a long time or gradually fade). 2. Practicality of use. Assumes:
• possibility of processing (cutting);
• durability in wearing, storage and hygienic care of stones;
• Strength, hardness, resistance to damage (scratches). 3. Rarity of occurrence and difficulty of extraction. The limited number of stones makes them more desirable and allows them to be used as “treasure”. As for this point of the criterion, it is constantly disputed and considered in some way a manifestation of “swagger”. This position is due to the fact that many stones that have chic decorative characteristics, due to their availability and widespread availability, are not highly valued (for example, fluorite) and are either not used at all in the creation of jewelry or are given a secondary role. Therefore, supporters of this opinion promote the idea that the beauty of the stone and only beauty should come to the fore. Despite this, the rarity of the stone still largely determines its value (cost), and as a consequence, the fashion for it. Openly or secretly, there is a rating that takes into account and meets all the above criteria of the most popular and valuable gemstones that are used to create jewelry: 1st place is taken by a mysterious diamond. Why mysterious? Because it, being the most expensive stone, does not have the highest indicators, which are the basis for determining the cost of the stone. The fact that a diamond is not the most brilliant stone is not known to everyone. The refractive index of light and dispersion are responsible for the shine and play of light of a stone. The higher they are, the brighter the stone shines and the more intense the play of light. So, the refractive index of light in a diamond is 2,4, and the dispersion value is 0,044. But there are stones whose refractive index is higher than that of a diamond (Hematite 2,9, Cinnabar 2,9, Proustite 2,8, Cuprite 2,8, Rutile 2,6) and there are stones whose dispersion is also higher than for a diamond (Cassiterite 0,062, Andradite 0,057, Cerussite 0,051, Sphene 0,051). Why is the diamond considered the king of precious stones? We would like to draw your attention to the fact that the refractive index of light and the dispersion of a diamond, although inferior to the listed stones, are not significant. But if you compare the hardness of a diamond and the hardness of stones that have slightly higher optical properties, then the gap will be colossal. Hardness is compared using the generally accepted Mohs scale. The scale has ten positions. The first position includes minerals that are very fragile and are easily scratched even with a fingernail. As you go up the scale, the hardness of the stone increases. The first seven positions are considered not hard enough and stones that belong to these positions, with slight contact with almost any object, can split, scratch, or become deformed. All the previously mentioned stones, which were so boasted of having greater brilliance and play of light than a diamond, occupy steps on the Mohs scale from one to seven, i.e. they are very fragile. And only a few “crawl” to the eighth step. But at the very top of this Mohs scale sits a diamond and it does not share this place with anyone. He alone occupies the 10th step, and this is correct, because there should be only one king. The color of the king may vary. The most common diamond is colorless. If a diamond has a pronounced color, it is called fancy. Fancy diamonds are rarer than colorless diamonds, so their prices are significantly higher. But the mystery of the diamond does not end there, since it also violates the third criterion by which the value of the stone is determined – the stone must be rare. Are you surprised? Yes, a diamond is not the rarest stone on Earth. Of course, you shouldn’t think that diamonds are just lying around under your feet, but it did not receive its title of “the rarest stone” in a completely honest way. There is a known case in history when the price of diamonds dropped significantly because supply exceeded demand. And after many deposits were discovered in Africa, the threat of a price collapse loomed over the diamond market, but the situation was corrected by De Beers, which artificially created a shortage of diamonds, thereby inflating their prices.
2nd place is occupied by two corundums – sapphire and ruby. Let us say right away that corundum is only slightly inferior to diamond in terms of strength. On the Mohs scale, corundums (sapphire and ruby) occupy the ninth position, i.e. they are very hard. These two corundums are inferior to diamonds in the brightness of their shine. Their refractive indices and dispersion are slightly lower than diamond.
If we talk about sapphire, it has a rich color palette, but the standard for all sapphires is the cornflower blue stone, whose homeland is Kashmir. In Kashmir today, times are not calm and military operations are ongoing aimed at redistributing the territory, and therefore excavations are very risky. Some of the most desperate adventurers still make attempts, but, unfortunately, their production does not cover even a small share of the market demand. Sapphire is also mined in the USA, Burma, and Thailand, but these stones are valued less, and sometimes much lower, than Kashmiri stones.
The classic of the ruby ​​genre is red, scarlet. It is surprising that rubies are often found, but the lion’s share of them are of low quality and only a few are worthy of being used to create jewelry. The beauty of sapphire and ruby ​​is that their color is not affected by the type of lighting (artificial, natural) and they are able to retain their original color, without fading, for many years. Emerald takes 3rd place. Let’s say right away that the stone is whimsical and requires special treatment, in particular careful wearing, since on the Mohs scale it stands between 7 and 8 steps. The brilliance and play of light indicators are lower than those of a diamond and slightly inferior to sapphire and ruby. The rich green (grassy) color is appreciated. Almost all emeralds have numerous microcracks, but they do not scare away, but rather make the stone unusual. Like ruby, emerald is common, but a good emerald is very rare. 4th place belongs to alexandrite. Alexandrite is optically inferior to diamond; it practically goes head to head with sapphire and ruby ​​and is slightly ahead of emerald. On the Mohs scale it is between 8 and 9 steps, i.e. is a fairly durable stone. Alexandrite is a magic stone. It has the ability to change color depending on the type of lighting. In daylight (depending on natural features) it can have a blue-green, bluish-green, dark green, olive green color. In evening or artificial light, it can acquire a pink-crimson or red-violet, purple color. There are many deposits of alexandrite, or rather, they are quite common, but a meager amount of crystals is extracted from one deposit. Moreover, among the mined stones it is very difficult to find a specimen of truly impeccable quality. Alexandrite is one of the rarest gemstones. 5th place is occupied by the most amazing stone – pearls. Amazing because it is mined not underground, but under water. But the amazingness of the stone does not end there. It is admirable that the origin of pearls is connected with the sea mollusk, which cherishes and cherishes the jewel within itself and cares for it as if it were its own child.
Pearls also differ from other precious stones in that they do not require special cutting, polishing, or processing. He’s gorgeous in his own right. The beauty of pearls lies in its soft, almost flirtatious radiance, which feels like it comes from the very center of the pearl and, reaching its surface, begins to play with the iridescent tints of mother-of-pearl. If we talk about the refractive index of pearls, then it is almost the same as that of emerald, i.e. slightly lower than diamond, sapphire, ruby ​​and alexandrite. But comparing pearls with other precious stones is somehow not entirely acceptable, since they are very different in aesthetic perception.
The only drawback of pearls is its hardness, or rather its very low value. On the Mohs scale, it is between the third and fourth stage, which indicates the fragility of pearls. Pearls can have different colors (shades): blue, pink, yellow, purple and even black. Black pearls are considered the rarest, and as a result, the most expensive. Among the many pearls, it is the one that has the correct (close to ideal) spherical shape that is valued.
Pearls can be sea or river. Sea pearls are more valued because of their more ideal shape.
The size of the pearl also matters.
Relatively recently, pearls took not fifth place in the ranking of the “best” precious stones, but second. This was due to the fact that pearl mining was associated with a great risk to life. Diving to great depths for pearls was accompanied by the possibility of asphyxia (suffocation), which in most cases ended in death. Even after Jacques-Yves Cousteau gave the world scuba gear, pearl hunters continued to put their lives in danger (diving without scuba gear) due to the high cost of equipment. The situation was further complicated by the fact that pearl fishing began to take on a barbaric hue and hundreds and thousands of mollusks were caught in search of ideal pearls, which led to a sharp decline in their population.
Kokichi Mikimoto, who became the “father” of cultured pearls, was able to resolve the situation. The appearance of cultured pearls was the reason that from the second position in the ranking of the “most-most” precious stones, it moved to the fifth line. Don’t think that cultured pearls are a piece of jewelry. In order to grow a pearl, special conditions are created, mollusks are purchased and propagated, and a considerable amount of time passes (several years). All this effort is worth it for a pearl, even a cultured one, to be called a precious stone. This is what these precious stones are like, each with its own advantages, disadvantages, its own history and its own army of fans. Which gemstone do you prefer? Jewelry and gemstones are not only a statement accessory, but also an important investment, as such things with history are more valuable. Expensive jewelry can be given as an inheritance or status gift. We decided to find out which stones are considered the most valuable in the whole world.

10th place: Pink Promis – pink diamond ($32)

An oval-shaped fancy hot pink diamond, weighing 14,93 carats, went under the hammer at Christie’s in Hong Kong in November 2017, with 140 people from 12 countries participating in the auction. The oval stone is set in a platinum ring and has a frame of small diamonds. Its appraised value was $28. The auction house experts called it the “Picasso of the world of pink diamonds” because of its interesting shape. “It’s a cross between an oval and a marquise—what we call a moval,” commented Rahul Kadakia, one of the experts who worked with the stone and head of Christie’s jewelry department.

9th place: Zoe Diamond – blue diamond ($32)

The 9,75-carat bright blue teardrop diamond was sold at Sotheby’s in 2014 for $32,6 million, setting a price-to-weight record of $3,3 million per carat. It is curious that initially experts believed that it would bring about $15 million, but bidding for the stone ensued fiercely and lasted 20 minutes. The final bid was a record for the blue diamond category, surpassing the price of the famous Wittelsbach-Graff diamond, which sold for $24,3 million in 2008. The diamond was once part of the collection of Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, wife of the late philanthropist Paul Mellon (Bunny herself lived to be 103 and died just a year before the auction). The current owner of the stone is Hong Kong tycoon Joseph Lau: he named the diamond “Zoe” in honor of his daughter.

8th place: The Orange – orange diamond ($36)

A unique diamond of incredibly intense bright orange color weighing 14,32 carats and a “fancy shape” was sold at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels Geneva auction in November 2013. This is the most expensive orange diamond in the world. Before the auction, it belonged to an unknown collector for 30 years. They say this is the largest orange diamond in the history of Christie’s: it can be compared in size to an apricot. According to a statement by Francois Curiel, head of the jewelry department at Christie’s auction house, the record price of this stone puts it on par with the largest pink and blue diamonds, which are traditionally considered the most valuable among colored diamonds.

7th place: Marie Antoinette’s pendant – pearl ($36)

Although pearls aren’t usually on lists of the most expensive gemstones, this exquisite pendant makes our list, probably because of its unique history. The pendant was part of a collection that came to Sotheby’s from representatives of the Bourbon-Parma dynasty, a junior branch of the Spanish Bourbons. 10 jewelry of Queen Marie Antoinette were put up for auction, representing not only jewelry, but also historical value; they were hidden from the eyes of the general public for two hundred years. Initially, a huge natural pearl framed with diamonds was estimated at only a million dollars, but according to the results of the auction, they managed to earn 36 times more! It is curious that it was Marie Antoinette’s jewelry that partly became the “culprits” of the French Revolution: the queen was accused of wastefulness and love of luxury at a time when the people of France were poor. Before her unsuccessful attempt to flee the country, she managed to send her jewelry to Brussels, from where they were transferred to her relatives in Vienna. The queen herself was executed by guillotine in 1793.

6th place: The Princie Diamond – pink diamond ($39)

This is one of the most famous diamonds in history. It is more than 300 years old: a unique stone was found in the 1937th century in the mines of Central India. For a long time it belonged to Indian aristocrats and monarchs. The last owner of the stone “in the homeland” was the last nizam of Hyderabad – Asaf Jah VII, who became famous as the richest man in the world as of 149 (according to the Times magazine ranking). Also, Asaf Jah VII was the father of 6 children from numerous spouses and concubines. XNUMX years before the coronation of Elizabeth II, he sent several precious stones as a gift to the wedding of the future Queen of Great Britain, and after the transfer of power he left for Bombay. In 1960, the jewel was auctioned at Sotheby’s with the mark “the property of a gentleman” and was bought for £46 by Jacques Arpels, one of the co-owners of the jewelry house Van Cleef and Arpels (a gala party was even organized for the occasion). He also gave the stone a name: Princie (“little prince”) in honor of the 000-year-old son of a maharani from the Indian principality of Baroda (west India, now Vadorada). His mother, Sita Devi, was famous in the West as the “Indian Wallis Simpson” (the wife of Edward VIII, the former king of Great Britain, who abdicated the throne to marry her). Later, the pink diamond was resold to Italian senator Renato Angiolillo for an unknown amount, and for a long time real wars of heirs were fought over it. On April 17, 2013, at a Christie’s auction in New York, the pink diamond Little Prince was purchased for $39,3 million; the buyer of the Pink Diamond Princie chose to remain anonymous.

5th place: The Graff Pink – pink diamond ($46)

A rare 24,78-carat “fancy rich pink” diamond once owned by famed American jeweler Harry Winston, the “King of Diamonds,” was sold in 2010 by Sotheby’s auctioneers. The emerald cut diamond with rounded corners is set on a platinum ring flanked by two shield-shaped diamonds. Its current owner is millionaire and rare stone collector Lawrence Graff, the famous diamond dealer and owner of the jewelry company Graff Diamonds, who, without thinking twice, gave the stone his name. It is curious that Winston and Graff were once competitors.

4th place: Blue Moon of Josephine – blue diamond ($48)

Another star from the collection of Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau. He purchased the diamond in 2015 at Sotheby’s as a gift for his seven-year-old daughter Josephine, after whom he named it “Josephine’s Blue Moon.” At the time of the sale, which took place on November 11, 2015, this was the highest price a diamond had ever fetched at auction. The diamond from which the Josephine Blue Moon diamond is made was found in January 2014 by the mining company Petra Diamonds at the Cullinan mine, located near the city of the same name in South Africa. The diamond weighed 29,6 carats. It took six months of painstaking work to cut it into a cushion shape. Experts from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) classified the resulting diamond in the Fancy Vivid blue color group, corresponding to the highest color intensity possible for blue diamonds, and the diamond was recognized by the same experts as “intrinsically flawless” for its exceptional clarity.

3rd place: Winston Pink Legacy – pink diamond ($50)

The 18,96-carat Winston Pink Legacy rectangular diamond is one of the largest and highest quality diamonds Christie’s has ever sold. The Harry Winston Company acquired the stone in November 2018 for a record 50 Swiss francs at an auction in Geneva – said to be largely because its weight corresponds to the year of birth of their founder Harry Winston, 375. The Pink Legacy diamond previously belonged to the Oppenheimer family, former owners of De Beers. The stone itself was discovered in South Africa and cut in 000. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has rated the Winston Pink Legacy diamond Fancy Vivid. Only one in a million colored diamonds has a color depth sufficient to qualify for this category. The jewel is currently up for sale.

2nd place: The Oppenheimer Blue – blue diamond ($57)

An amazingly clear blue diamond was also sold at Christie’s auction in Geneva. Weighing 14,62 carats, this world’s largest blue diamond is named after Sir Philip Oppenheimer, former chairman of De Beers, a diamond mining company founded in 1888 in South Africa. It was he who once owned this giant (the name of the current owner is not disclosed). In its current cut, the stone is adorned with a platinum ring.

1st place: Williamson Pink Star – hot pink diamond ($71)

A huge bright pink titanium weighing 59,60 carats was mined in 1999 in the mines of South Africa by De Beers (before processing the diamond weighed 132,5 carats!). It took 20 months to cut it – it’s a unique shade that required a lot of work. It was presented in Monaco on May 29, 2003 at a public ceremony and was originally named Steinmetz Pink. The first owner of the unique stone was diamond cutter Isaac Wulf, who bought the jewel at Sotheby’s auction in Geneva for 68 Swiss francs. On April 000, 000, the Pink Star was sold at auction in Hong Kong for $3 million to the Chinese jewelry company Chow Tai Fook Enterprises. So, as you can see, the most expensive stones in the world are mostly colored diamonds. What is the value rating among stones? Here he is: 1st place – red diamond (more than $1 per carat), 2nd place – colored diamonds (about $1 per carat), 3rd place – Padparadscha sapphire (from $30 per carat), 4th place – ruby ​​(up to $18 per carat), 5th place – colorless diamond (up to $17 per carat), 6th place – Paraiba tourmaline (up to $15 per carat), 7th place – alexandrite (up to $15 per carat), 8th place – red beryl (about $10 per carat), 9th place – emerald (up to $8 per carat), 10th place – sapphire (from $4 to $000 per carat).

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