The rarest gemstones in the world have always captured the imagination of collectors and jewelry enthusiasts. How would it feel to own such magnificent specimens? And while we can’t own these specimens, we can certainly read about them in today’s amazing blog on the rarest gemstones ever found, from the El-Dorado topaz to the largest pearl in the world, and of course, the Virgin Rainbow.
The Rarest Gemstones: El-Dorado Topaz
If you thought the 500+ carat brown diamond from DeBeers is amazing, you’re going to drop your coffee mug when you see the El-Dorado Topaz. The El-Dorado Topaz weight 13.67 pounds and is 31,000 carats in total. The El-Dorado Topaz also holds the current throne as being the largest faceted gemstone in the world. It trumps diamonds and rubies and will likely hold the title for a long time before an even bigger gemstone is mined and cut.
When the El-Dorado Topaz was first mined in 1984 in Brazil, the raw crystal formation weighed 81.57 pounds. Many people might be wondering why they remove so much of the crystal from the original mass? To create a crystal that was fancy enough to be exhibited and subsequently traded, the cutter had to remove the lowest quality portions of the pre-cut stone. The best part of the stone weighed only 13.67 pounds. An estimated 80% of the original El-Dorado Topaz was discarded to produce this record-breaking specimen. The value of the El-Dorado Topaz has been estimated to be about $5 million.
A Pearl Hidden Under Fisherman’s Bed
Next on our list is the biggest pearl in the world, found in the Philippines, on the island of Palawan. The story of the world’s biggest pearl is fascinating because the pearl is wild-caught. It stayed under a fisherman’s bed for a total of ten years before it was given to a steward for safekeeping. The fisherman had to transfer to another city.
The irregularly shaped pearl weighed thirty-four kilograms and was placed in a simple bag and hidden under the fisherman’s bed in his simple house. Many more giant pearls are recovered from the Palawan island’s waters, but this is the biggest so far.
The family who owned the pearl would rub it for good fortune before heading out to sea, searching for a big catch. Why they didn’t sell the pearl, we don’t know as of this writing. Perhaps the family thought it would be better if they owned the pearl and did not sell it.
The pearl measures 2.2 feet across and has a width of an entire foot. If you have seen pearls in the past, you would know that this giant was the stuff of legends – there was just too much going against these giants’ formation to begin with that they hardly can exist at all.
It was said that the pearl was found in a giant clam that had stuck to the anchor of the fisherman’s boat. They had been fishing that day, and of course, they had to lower their anchor at one point so the boat won’t float away.
Interestingly, they didn’t expect to get a giant pearl when they lifted the giant clam that day. Before this giant pearl, another giant pearl (albeit smaller than this one) was also discovered on the Palawan island’s coast in the Philippines in 1939. This one weighed twenty pounds. There were also reports of a forty-pound pearl being found by fishermen.
According to the city, the fisherman who owns the pearl has not donated or signed over possession of the giant pearl to the local city government. Should the fisherman reclaim his pearl, he could make about $130 million based on the quality and carat weight of the pearl.
The Virgin Rainbow and The Collections of Opal in The South Australia Museum
The Virgin Rainbow is undoubtedly the world’s most unique and most beautiful opal specimen. What makes this specimen unique is its natural fluorescence and the sheer number of mineral inclusions that make it shine like a rainbow. It was mined in Coober Pedy, located in South Australia. It was unearthed by a miner named John Dunstan.
Today, the valuation of the Virgin Rainbow is more than $1 million. It is in a permanent exhibition at the Southern Australia Museum, located in Adelaide.
According to experts, one other characteristic that sets the Virgin Rainbow apart from the rest of the world’s opals is the less light there is, the more fluorescent it becomes. It’s almost as if the opal has a store of light of its own.
Opals naturally have water, and the average water content in opals’ internal structure is about 20%. It is classified as a mineraloid, and Australia is particularly proud of this specimen because Australia’s national gemstone is opal. More than 50% of the commercial opal in the world is found in the subcontinent.
What is even more astonishing is that the Virgin Rainbow is elongated because it is a type of opalized fossil. This means that this opal used to be a living creature. According to experts, the animal is likely an ancient predecessor of the modern cuttlefish. When the animal sank to the ocean floor after it died, that’s when the opal began to form.
Another interesting collection that you may want to check out is the Opal Fossils Gallery of the South Australian Museum. On this side of the world, opalized ancient animals are a thing. While the specimens continue to be found in opal mines, it just shows that at one point in time, the sea’s level was quite high, and ancient animals used to roam areas that can no longer be inhabited by humans.
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