What Are the Most Expensive Birthstones and Why?


What-are-the-Most-Expensive-Birthstones

People once believed that wearing a birthstone could protect them from harm and bring good luck. Nowadays, they’re valued for their beauty and monetary worth. But what is the most expensive birthstone?

Rubies are the most expensive birthstone. They can sell for more than $1 million per carat. That’s almost fifteen times the average price-per-carat of diamonds. In 2016, the 15.99-carat Jubilee ruby sold for $14.2 million, making it the most expensive gemstone sold at auction in the United States.

Let’s explore the priciest birthstones and shed some light on why some are more expensive than others.

How Expensive Are Birthstones?

Birthstones range in price from less than $1 (tiny moonstones) to more than $14 million (large rubies).

The six factors that influence a gemstone’s price include:

  • Carat
  • Color
  • Brilliance
  • Origin
  • Rarity

Carat

A carat is a unit of measurement that refers to a gemstone’s weight. The larger and heavier a jewel is, the more expensive it’s likely to be.

For this reason, several of the world’s most expensive birthstones tend to be quite large. In fact, many of the priciest jewels on the planet (like the Pearl of Puerto) are uniquely enormous.

Color

A birthstone’s color can significantly impact its price, and desirable colors vary from stone to stone. But when we talk about gemstone color, we’re often referring to its hue and transparency.

A stone’s coloration is crucial, as most buyers associate specific colors with particular gemstones. For example, most people expect rubies to be a mix of dark and light red. On the other hand, stones with a more orange or purple coloration aren’t as attractive, so they’re often less expensive.

Transparency is also essential. A gemstone that is too dark (opaque) or too light (transparent) isn’t worth as much as a gemstone with a balanced level of opacity and transparency.

Brilliance

Dull gemstones are often worth far less than those that sparkle and shine. For example, a rough, unpolished emerald is typically worth $200 less per carat than one that’s polished and cut.

Additionally, several of the world’s most expensive birthstones fall high on the refractive index, meaning that they reflect and refract light better than darker, opaque stones.

A gemstone’s cut also impacts its brilliance. Round cut and faceted cut birthstones allow light to strike at multiple angles, potentially increasing the gem’s reflective qualities.

Origin

Much like the world’s most expensive steak cuts, a gemstone’s country of origin can significantly impact its price tag. That’s because some countries have mined and sold jewels for hundreds of years, while others might be new to the gemstone industry.

Countries with a long history of producing high-quality gemstones have outstanding reputations that inflate gemstone prices. For example, a loose 2-carat blue Kashmir sapphire (mined from the Zanskar Range of the Himalayas) typically costs about $200. But a similarly sized and colored sapphire harvested from an Australian mine might cost less than $100.

That’s because Kashmir sapphires have a well-established reputation for producing some of the most brilliant blue sapphires in the world. In addition, sapphires harvested from the Zanskar Range tend to be larger than those found in other parts of the world, making them more desirable and, consequently, more expensive.

It’s also worth noting that natural birthstones are far more valuable than synthetic, lab-made gems. This higher cost stems from the fact that natural jewels are rare, whereas synthetic gems are increasingly common.

Rarity

A one-a-kind item that can’t be replicated or replaced is bound to cost far more than an everyday item. This principle guides the price for many goods, from collectibles to gemstones.

Birthstones that are unique in some way (coloration, country of origin) tend to cost far more than those that exhibit standard qualities. South Sea pearls provide a great example of how uniqueness affects a birthstone’s price.

For example, pearls harvested from the Celebes Sea sometimes have a luminous golden sheen. These golden pearls are almost exclusively harvested from this area, and their numbers are limited. As a result, they’re more expensive than white pearls, typically costing at least $200 more.

Notably, many of the world’s most expensive seafood items are also costly due to their limited supply, rarity, and high demand!

Why Do Some Months Have Multiple Birthstones?

The following months are associated with multiple birthstones:

  • March
  • June
  • August
  • October
  • November
  • December

June and December have the highest number of associated birthstones, with three each. If you were born during any of these months, you might find yourself wondering, “Why is there more than one birthstone assigned to my birth month?”

The answer has everything to do with the high price of gemstones. Because some birthstones are so expensive, some months have multiple birthstones to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to own one.

For example, the traditional birthstone for June is pearl. However, a single pearl can cost several thousand dollars. Moonstone gems were added to make June birthstones more affordable. These stones often cost between $1 and $50, making them exceptionally budget-friendly.

The most expensive birthstones almost exclusively belong to single-stone months like July, May, and April.

Birthstones Ranked by Value

  1. Ruby
  2. Emerald
  3. Alexandrite
  4. Diamond
  5. Tourmaline
  6. Sapphire
  7. Garnet
  8. Opal
  9. Aquamarine
  10. Topaz

10. Topaz – November

Topaz

November has two birthstones: Citrine and topaz. But the more expensive of the two is topaz.

Topaz is the hardest silicate gemstone, making it one of the most durable birthstones. It’s available in a variety of dazzling colors, including:

  • Blue
  • Purple
  • Red
  • Pink
  • Orange
  • Yellow

Some topaz stones are colorless, making them look like diamonds. Blue topaz gemstones are some of the most popular options, and they can also be quite affordable, with some costing as little as $10 per carat.

However, AAA-grade blue topaz stones can cost more than $18,000 per stone. High-quality topaz birthstones (especially orange-red imperial topaz) have an average price-per-carat of $1,000.

Why It’s Expensive

Many topaz stones are colorless, but mining companies and jewelers dye them blue to make them more attractive. As a result, these stones aren’t worth much.

Alternatively, the costliest topaz birthstones are often brilliant, brightly colored, and entirely natural.

Brazilian topaz is one of the most expensive examples of this November birthstone, especially stones with an orange or pink hue. That’s because these gems are far rarer than bright blue topaz stones, giving them a unique charm.

9. Aquamarine – March

Rough-crystal-of-aquamarine

Half of the months have more than one birthstone, including March. This month’s birthstones are aquamarine and bloodstone. These two gems could not be more different.

While bloodstone is opaque and affordable (typically selling for $20 or less per stone), aquamarine is translucent and costly.

The average price-per-carat for a pale blue aquamarine birthstone is between $300 and $1,000. Naturally, larger aquamarine gems are more expensive.

Why It’s Expensive

Finding an aquamarine stone that’s uniformly blue, slightly translucent, and uniformly baby blue is rare. For this reason, the highest-quality aquamarine birthstones can command high prices reaching $20,000 or more per stone.

7. Garnet – January

Garnet-Ring

Garnets and rubies are often confused with another, and it’s not challenging to understand why. Both birthstones typically exhibit a rich red color.

That said, not all garnets are red. Some of the rarest and most expensive garnet gemstones are a brilliant green, resembling fluorite or emerald. Others have an orange hue and look like translucent amber.

Still, color differences aren’t the only thing that set garnets and rubies apart. When you look at the prices of these birthstones, the difference is immediately evident.

Green garnets typically cost $8,000 per carat, while red and orange garnets might have a per-carat cost of about $200. Garnets with rare colors can sell for formidable prices.

For example, a 4.2-carat blue garnet sold for $6.8 million in 2003. Accounting for inflation, that would be more than $10 million today.

Why It’s Expensive

The most expensive garnets are typically blue or green. These bright birthstones are costly because they’re scarce and unique. After all, most garnets are red or orange.

8. Opal – October

opal-gemstone-jewelry

The month with the most expensive birthstones is October, as both its gemstones (opal and tourmaline) tend to cost several thousands of dollars.

However, opals are slightly less pricey, making them the more affordable choice. These multi-colored opaque stones typically cost between $100 and $4,000 per stone, but some opals can fetch much higher prices.

The Virgin Rainbow Opal is a fantastic example, with a listed value of about $1 million. As the name of this stone suggests, it contains every visible color, giving it a rainbow-like appearance.

Why It’s Expensive

The priciest and largest opals tend to be the most colorful. Additionally, opal gemstones that reflect lots of light are priced higher than those with a dull gleam.

6. Tourmaline – October

tourmaline-stones

We’ve arrived at the second birthstone for October, tourmaline. These gemstones come in several colors, including pale green, dark green, green-blue, purple, red, yellow, or orange. Blue tourmaline gemstones are incredibly rare.

This birthstone isn’t as durable as other jewels, and it has a glass-like composition similar to quartz. But despite its relative fragility, tourmaline remains a popular (and expensive) birthstone.

The most exceptional tourmaline jewels cost more than $50,000 per carat. An excellent example is the Ethereal Carolina Divine Paraíba, a massive 191.87-carat blue tourmaline that’s valued at about $125 million.

That said, you can expect to spend between $300 and $4,000 per carat on one of these gorgeous, glassy birthstones.

Why It’s Expensive

Tourmaline is one of the more expensive birthstones due to its brilliance and color variety. It shines brightly in the sunlight, comes in several eye-catching colors, and is often preferred over the other October birthstone (opal) due to its translucent qualities.

5. Sapphire – September

Sapphire-pendant

Sapphire (also called corundum) is made of the same minerals as rubies! The only thing that separates these birthstones is their chromium content.

Rubies have lots of chromium, which is an element that gives them their rich red color. But sapphires don’t contain much (if any) chromium.

Still, sapphires are one of the few birthstones available in nearly every color. So, if your birthday is in September, you could purchase a multi-colored sapphire necklace to celebrate!

But, of course, you’ll need several thousand dollars to own a rainbow-hued display of sapphires. That’s because the average price-per-carat for this gemstone is between $400 and $11,000.

Deep blue sapphires typically cost more than $100,000 per stone. For example, a blue Kashmir sapphire was sold at auction for $6.7 million in 2017!

Why It’s Expensive

Flawed sapphires are worth far more than perfect ones. This trend might surprise you, but it’s crucial to note that the only flawless sapphires in existence are lab-made gems.

Natural sapphires typically exhibit a few impurities, making them easier to identify. And because sapphires are rare (especially blue sapphires), natural specimens are worth thousands of dollars.

4. Diamond – April

Diamond

Though diamonds have sold for incredible amounts (The Pink Star diamond sold for more than $71 million in 2017), the average price per carat for a loose diamond gemstone varies between $2,500 and $67,500. That’s lower than the per-carat price for other jewels.

That said, diamonds are a globally prized birthstone due to their natural beauty and hardness. Diamonds are also a popular choice for engagement rings, making them one of the most sought-after precious stones on the planet.

Why It’s Expensive

Diamonds are one of the most expensive birthstones because they’re constantly in high demand. Additionally, diamonds are formed deep within the earth, making them one of the hardest gemstones to extract. As such, labor costs often contribute to the high price of natural diamonds.

Are you looking for a one-of-a-kind luxurious experience? If so, treat yourself to diamonds and a drink by trying a bottle of the world’s most expensive cognac.

3. Alexandrite – June

Alexandrite

Those born in June have the option to choose from three birthstones: Pearls, alexandrite, and moonstone. And while moonstone is incredibly inexpensive (selling for $50 or less), pearls and alexandrite can be costly.

However, the cost of a high-quality pearl pales in comparison to the price of a high-quality alexandrite gemstone.

While a single loose pearl might cost between $100 and $12,000 (depending on color, size, and quality), a loose alexandrite gemstone typically costs $400 to $400,000.

The price-per-carat for this color-changing stone is about $70,000, though it can go higher depending on stone size.

Why It’s Expensive

One of the primary reasons why alexandrite gemstones are so expensive is because they can change color.

When exposed to bright light, alexandrite has a green emerald-like color. But it appears red like a ruby when in the shade or low lighting. This unique feature is incredibly uncommon among precious stones.

Additionally, alexandrite is one of the rarest gemstones in the world. Because it’s a birthstone and one of the few color-changing gemstones, the demand for alexandrite is consistently high.

2. Emerald – May

Emerald-Jewelry

If you were born in May, your birthstone is the deep green emerald! This gemstone has been prized for its brilliance and beauty since ancient times.

But emeralds also happen to be some of the most expensive precious stones in the world. The average price-per-carat for a high-quality emerald is about $100,000.

However, prices can go even higher. For example, the Rockefeller Emerald sold for $5.5 million in 2017. At 18 carats, that equates to about $305,000 per carat.

Why It’s Expensive

The sparkling green color of an emerald is captivating. But while the coloration can contribute to an emerald’s price (darker emeralds tend to be the priciest), it isn’t the primary reason why this birthstone is so expensive.

Instead, the main reason emeralds are costly is because they’re scarce.

On the other hand, May birthdays aren’t rare. As a result, the demand for this brilliant green birthstone is far higher than the supply, raising prices to astounding heights.

1. Ruby – July

Ruby-Ring

Natural, untreated rubies are the most expensive gemstones on the planet. The priciest rubies are often called Pigeon Blood Rubies due to their deep red coloration and exceptional brilliance. Many of these costly rubies come from Burma.

Ruby gemstones can also be pink or dark red, but rubies that fall between these two extremes are some of the most sought-after birthstones. The highest quality rubies can cost as much as $1.172 million per carat, making them more expensive than any other jewel in the world.

A fantastic example of a ‘perfect’ ruby is the Jubilee Ruby, which sold at auction for more than $14 million in 2016. A standard one-carat rounded ruby easily costs at least $1,000.

Why It’s Expensive

A ruby’s value is determined by its size, coloration, and country of origin. The most expensive rubies are often a rich red color, several carats, and mined in Burma.

Rubies are in high demand due to their natural brilliance, and the highest quality rubies tend to sparkle and shine when exposed to light. Rubies are also prized because they’re a birthstone. Like diamonds, the ruby symbolizes love and affection, making it a popular choice for wedding and engagement rings.

The ruby is truly the king of the birthstones.

Celebrate Your Birthday With Expensive Gemstones

Those born in July are more likely to spend more on a birthstone than those born in August. That’s because the ruby (the birthstone associated with July) is the most expensive birthstone, while peridot (the birthstone associated with August) is one of the least costly.

But no matter what month you were born in, investing in a birthstone could be an excellent idea. Not only do these stones help you celebrate your birth month, but their value also tends to appreciate over time.

To learn more about the priciest and most unique experiences and items, check out our blog today!

Eric Lyons

Eric is a subject-matter expert on the world's most expensive luxuries and collectibles. He has explored thousands of luxuries and collectibles over the past few years and now brings them to readers around the world.

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