Does Gemstone Rarity Always Command a High Price?

People have cut hundreds, if not thousands, of types of minerals as gemstones. Of these, some are considerably rarer than popular gems like diamonds and quartz. Benitoite is a good example. Since it’s the state gem of California, it has some claim to fame. However, it’s also gained some notoriety because classes at the Gemological Institute of America use it as an example of a beautiful and durable gem that will never have a significant impact on the market because of its limited availability.

Gem-quality benitoite occurs only in San Benito County in southern California. Miners find just a few hundred carats each year. Much of this material — maybe even most of it — is kept in its natural form. Very little gets cut and offered for sale.

Since benitoite is quite beautiful and fairly well-known, the larger pieces can command prices up to $5,000 per carat. Although quite a bit less than the cost of a fine colored diamond and far less than that of a very fine ruby, this price is much higher than that of other rare gems. Supply and demand levels still dictate prices. Less well-known rare…