Top Grade Gemstones

Top grade gems are mainly found only in certain colored gem varieties. While there is high quality amethyst or rose quartz or blue topaz, even the best specimens do not really count as top grade gems. The top grade stones are found especially in ruby and sapphire, but also in emerald, spinel, tourmaline, the rarer garnets (tsavorite, demantoid and spessartite), alexandrite, imperial topaz, tanzanite and jadeite. There may also be top grade specimens of gems such as aquamarine, sphene, zircon, opal, peridot, etc.

Here are some examples of top grade gemstones in today's market. Though they come from different geographical locations around the world, they have several properties in common -- vivid, intense color, outstanding clarity, excellent cut and large size.

Burma Ruby 2.61 cts
Burma ruby has longed been famed as the finest ruby in the world. The top color is a pure red known as pigeon's blood red. Burma ruby is now very rare, especially in larger sizes, and is much sought after by investors. Unheated specimens are particularly valuable. The photo here is of a 2.61 carat unheated Burmese ruby in our collection. This gem is top color and exceptionally clean.
Blue Sapphire Madagascar 7.52 cts
Sri Lanka is historically the most profilic source of fine sapphire, including blue, yellow, pink, green and the very rare padparadscha. But more recently top sapphires have come from Madagascar, the large island off the southeast coast of Africa. The photo here is of a rare 7.52 carat blue sapphire from Madagascar, graded "almost loupe clean".
Spessartite Garnet Nigeria 12.16 cts
Prior to the 1990's, spessartite garnet was a rare collector's stone. That changed in 1991 when an important new find was made in northwestern Namibia. In 1999 a much larger discovery was made in Nigeria. This 12.16 carat Nigerian spessartite displays the fully saturated mandarin orange color that made these garnets so popular with collectors. Large specimens  such as this with top clarity are rare and valuable.
Burma Jadeite 8.01 cts
The rarest and most valuable jadeite is called Imperial Jade, colored by traces of chromium. It has color and transparency rivaling fine emerald, though Imperial Jade is slightly more yellow in tone than emerald. You will also hear the term Type A used to refer to jadeite. Type A jadeite is untreated natural Burmese jadeite where the color is 100% natural.  This 8.01 carat Imperial Jade from Burma is a a superb example of the finest Burmese jadeite.
Mahenge Spinel 10.14 cts
Gem aficionadoes prize spinel for its brilliance, hardness and wide range of spectacular colors. In addition to rich reds, spinel can be found in a pastel pink, purple and blue. But the discovery in 2007 of pink-red spinel with a remarkable neon-like color caused a sensation in the gem world. These rare spinel from are known as Mahenge Spinel, named after the town in Tanzania near where they were found. This 10.14 carat Mahenge spinel is one of the finest specimens, based on its amazing color, and exceptional color and clarity.
Paraiba Tourmaline 5.71 cts
An unusual blue-green tourmaline with an intense color and a neon-like glow was first discovered in Paraiba, Brazil in 1989. The vivid color is due to traces of copper. The small Brazilian find was soon exhausted. But in 2001 similar material was found in Nigeria, and then in 2005 in Mozambique. The Mozambique material is the most similar to the original Brazilian in color, and often superior in clarity. This  5.71 carat specimen from Mozambique combines the distinctive Paraiba glow with superb clarity.