We’re often asked “Which gem offers me the most value?” There’s no easy answer to that question since gemstones and their corresponding market constantly fluctuate. One thing is for sure: the values of gems go up generally, not down. According to one service that tracked gemstone prices for the last 3 years, prices have risen an average of 20% since 2005. Those that have risen the fastest? Tanzanite and Burmese ruby.
If you were to rate a good gemstone based on superior hardness (greater than 7 on the Mohs scale), durability, good transparency and clarity and depth of color, here’s what one expert considered the best value (or bang for your buck).
Pros: hardness of 9; no cleavage; high refractive index (so excellent brilliance); good dispersion (fire); good choice of colors though blue is the perennial favorite.
Cons: usually heat treated
Price range: $300-$600+ per carat for heated sapphire; $1000+ per carat for unheated sapphire
Pros: hardness of 7.5; indistinct cleavage; very high refractive index (higher even than sapphire); always untreated
Cons: available only in yellow-orange to orange-red
Price range: $75-$150+ per carat
Pros: hardness of 8; indistinct cleavage; high refractive index; very good fire; wide choice of colors; always untreated
Cons: can be difficult to find, especially in larger sizes
Price range: $50-$400+ per carat, depending on size
Pros: hardness of 7 to 7.5; indistinct cleavage; good brilliance and fire; amazing choice of colors; affordable in large sizes; usually untreated
Cons: stones tend to be highly pleochroic or multicolored
Price range: $25-$150+ per carat, depending on size; paraiba tourmaline $300 to $1000+ per carat
Price ranges are approximate.