Jewellers' Network

Can a gemstone be too rare?

The definition of a gemstone states that it should be endowed with three desirable attributes, beauty, durability and rarity.

From left to right: BENITOITE, ALEXANDRITE, TAAFEITE

While it is an undeniable truth that a gemstone cannot be either too beautiful or too durable it is strange to note that it is quite possible for a gem to be too rare. Take Benitoite, Euclase or Taafeite as classic examples.

When faceted these minerals yield extremely attractive and hard wearing stones. However they are so rare that it is pointless for the gem trade to spend money promoting them due to their lack of availability. If you were to ask your favourite jeweller about these gemstones he may very well tell you that he has never heard of them.

Awareness is the important factor here. While the alexandrite variety of chrysoberyl is also a very rare stone the chances are you jeweller friend will have heard of it. He may even have received enquiries from potential buyers because so much has been written about the colour change that is evidenced by this stone. It plays a crucial role in one of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes murder mysteries.

Holmes asks a suspect when he last saw the victim. The suspect states that it was early in the day and Holmes then asks him if the victim was wearing her amethyst ring. The suspect says yes, he happened to notice that she was wearing a purple ring. This afforded Holmes confirmation that the man was lying since he knew that the ring concerned contained a fine Russian alexandrite. It would have appeared green during the day and only shown a purple hue after the candelabras were lit in the evening.

Other gems that are both attractive and durable but rarely seen include:

Afghanite, Andalusite, Axinite, Baddeleyite, Clinohumite, Euclase, Danburite, Grandidierite, Hambergite, Jeremyjevite, Lawsonite, Narsarsukite, Painite, Pezzottaite, Phenakite, Rhodizite, Sapphirine, Simpsonite.

JEREMYJEVITE

From left to right: IDOCRASE, SAPPHIRINE, CLINOHUMITE, DANBURITE

From left to right: ANDALUSITE, AXINITE,CRANDIDIERITE, EUCLASE

BY ARTHUR THOMAS

Fellow, Gem-A(GtBr)  /  Graduate gemologist GIA (USA)  /  Certified Evaluator (SA)

Email: arthurthomasgems@gmail.com  /  Tel: (011) 784 0172  /  Cell: (082) 469-6024