If you want a really unique and special engagement ring, forget the diamond. Go for gems that are rarer than diamonds. There aren’t many of them and they are not easy to find but if it is special you are looking for, there is no better way than to get gems that only a few can get their hands on.
Below are some of these gems, their characteristics, and where they may be found.
How Is It Formed: Its rarity comes from the fact that it requires a very rare geological event for it form. When low density magma forms, it can go to the surface of the Earth. When water starts mixing with it, it will cool. If this rock remains as it is, it will become igneous rock but when beryllium and chromium would have to mix with it. The problem is that these two minerals don’t form in the same types of environment. For one, Beryllium is usually found under the Earth. For these two to come together and mix is nothing short of a miracle.
Where It Is Found: As stated, it was originally found in Russia. However, stories have it that Georg Fredrick Kunz of Tiffany was so fascinated by the stone that he bought most of the stones mined in Russia. There is no way to verify the story but it is true that there is no known mining camp of Alexandrite in Russia anymore. This is also where the biggest Alexandrite gem was found.
However, several other countries were discovered to have it:
- Sri Lanka (up to 65cts)
- Andrah Pradesh, India (Andhra Pradesh)
- Minas Gerais (Brazil)
- Zimbabwe (small and weak stones)
Characteristics: This is one of the few gems high quality gems that change its colors depending on the light that it absorbs. During the daytime, it should like an emerald. The closer its shade to an emerald, the higher the quality of the gem. During the night time or when the light is warm or weak, it should look like a Ruby. The closer the color to a Ruby, the higher the quality is.
It has three minerals – titanium, iron, and chromium – which contribute to its color changing property.
Fake Vs Real: A Natural Alexdrite has inclusions. It means that when you look inside it, it has black spots. These are deposits of other minerals. If you see bubbles inside, instead of black spots, those are fakes.
If a gem changes to any other color outside of what is written on the characteristics section is not an alexandrite.
If you scratch an Alexandrite on a surface, it will leave a white streak.
However, be careful because synthetic alexandrite have so close a characteristic, even professionals are fooled.
Price: Eleven years ago, an Alexandrite from Brazil with more than 11 carats were sold for more than $380k.
According to Caltech's geology division, these color variations are largely due to the presence of vanadium ions. [Figure via Caltech]
How It Is Formed: The actual name is blue zoisite. However, Tiffany’s called it Tanzanite to emphasize its rarity. No one has made a conclusion on how Tanzanite was formed primarily because its formation is exclusive to Mount Kilimanjaro. It begs no reason for anyone to study it. It is also considered a “young gem”. It might not have reached market maturity yet for someone to take interest in studying it.
Where It Is Found: To date, there is only one source of Tanzanite in the world, Tanzania. That is why it is rarer than a diamond. On the year it was discovered and correctly identified, over 2 million carats of Tanzanite was mined. Now, mining of Tanzanite is nationalized. The government also made decision to ban exporting of Tanzanite to encourage the processing of the gem within Tanzania.
These being said, you might still be able to buy some Tanzanites in India where the gem is processed and in the US which was able to buy most of the 2 million carats mined when it was discovered.
Characteristics: Like other gems, the color of Tanzanite changes depending on the light it absorbs. It is blue under a fluorescent light and violent under incandescent light. However, in its raw form, it is actually brown. It has to go through a specific process for it to turn blue.
Fake Vs Real: Keep in mind that tanzanite is a 3-colored gem. The colors blue and violet must be present.
You should also look for a certification from the Tanzanite Foundation. If there is not certification, don’t buy it.
Price: There are talks that Tanzanite is becoming extinct and the price is starting to skyrocket. The highest grade goes for as much as $800 per carat.
Image Source | palagems.com
Ask any jeweller and they will tell you that Benitoite is undervalued. For one, there is only one place known to produce this, San Benito County, California. Second, it is one of the few gems that don’t get affected by any kind of treatment. The gem is that strong.
How It Is Formed: No one has been able to specifically explain how it formed but there is one popular theory which was put forward by Coleman back in the 50s. He suggested that the land was able to form this gem when the liquid form of titanium, sodium, barium and manganese mixed. There is one problem with the theory, titanium is almost insoluble.
Where It Is Found: San Benito County in California is the only known source of Benitoite. Some areas in the county where the gem has been found are Gem Mine, Santa Rita Peak, the Victor Claim, the Mina Numero Uno and the Junnila Mine. Since each place is almost next to each other, they believe that there are still other places that contain the deposit but are yet to be explored.
Characteristics: It became popular because of its rare ability to shine when put under UV light. It also refracts light better than a diamond.
However, like any gem, not all benitoite have the same quality. In fact, the colors range from violet to white to pink to green to blue. No one has really been able to point what affects the color variation. However, some theorize that it may be because of the high iron content.
Fake Vs Real: Keep in mind that there is only one source of Bentoite. So ask for a certification from the San Benito County.
Better yet, buy only from San Benito County.
Price: The gem is still undervalued primarily because it is new. You can still get it for $400 per carat. However, remember that as the world gets introduced with the gem, the higher the price will go.
Image Source | gemselect.com
The Red Beryl is also known as the red emerald and bixbite. It is also known for being a thousand times rarer than diamonds. That means that for every 150k diamonds, there is only one Red Beryl.
How It Is Formed: For a Red Beryl to form, a volcano has to erupt and throw out topaz lava. Yes, that’s why it is rare. It is when the lava (with topaz) cools that gas with beryllium will come out. The beryllium will then mix with water and other substances like alkai feldspar to form the red beryl crystal.
Where It Is Found: Right now, there are only 3 known locations where a Red Beryl is found, Thomas Range and the Wah Wah Mountains in west-central Utah, and the Black Range in New Mexico.
Characteristics: One more reason for it being rare is that they are also difficult to find. Some of them are too small that it is easy to mistake them for dirt. However, the big ones are usually longer than 30mm and the width is more than 10mm. It has Mn3+ions.
Fake Vs Real: There are some things to remember:
1) Buy Natural Red Beryl and those only come from Utah (Wah Wah Mountains or Thomas Range).
2) Natural Red Beryl is usually no more than 2 carats.
3) There are lab grown crystals which are considered genuine red beryl because they have the exact same physical component as a red beryl but was grown in the lab. They are more affordable than natural red beryl.
Price: One of the most expensive pieces was sold for $10,000 per carat.
This gem is so rare that some jeweller believe that less than one percent of the collectors and jeweller will get a chance to see a Poudretteite. If you can get one for your future bride, you’ll score major points.
Where It Is Found: The gem was discovered in Quebec and only 6 were extracted. It is that rare!
Characteristics: It is a transparent pale pink mineral.
Fake Vs Real: The only other material that it may be confused with is the Amethyst. However, this gem is so rare, no one is yet to make an effort to produce a synthetic one or to fake it because they will most likely going to be busted.
Keep in mind that the gem is rare. So, be careful when someone sells you one.
Price: The last commercial purchase of a Poudretteite was done by an Italian dealer. At the time of purchase, he wasn’t sure what the gem was. He submitted it to a laboratory for examination. And it was what allowed different studies to be done on the gem. Prior to this, very little was known on the Poudretteite. The current price of the gem: $6,000 per carat.