Where Do the Best Gemstones Come From?

Written by: Sue Fritz | | Jewelry

Where Do the Best Gemstones Come From? Natural gemstone quality can vary widely depending on the region the gem comes from. Jewelry stores will often advertise where the gemstones were mined as a point of pride and to signify their value. The next time you’re taking a vacation, plan a stop at one of these gemstone destinations, and take a look at some of the best the world has to offer in diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds.


Many of the world’s finest natural rough diamonds are mined in Canada, Namibia, Russia, and Botswana. Stones from these countries are ethically sourced, as well. Brilliant Earth mentions these four sources as places where the diamond industry is particularly well-managed. Consequently, Brilliant Earth only sells diamonds from these countries, as the company is committed to ‘beyond conflict free’ diamonds. Once a diamond is mined, its ultimate beauty is dramatically affected by what happens when it is cut from raw material into a finished, faceted stone. Almost 85% of the world’s uncut diamonds pass through Antwerp in Belgium, making it the undisputed Diamond Capital of the World. Antwerp’s diamond cutters are among the world’s finest, and the labor costs reflect this level of expertise. Bain’s 2013 Global Diamond Report notes that “cutting and polishing costs range from approximately $100 per carat in Antwerp…to $10 to $30 per carat in India.” So if you want to check out the movers and shakers in the diamond industry, Antwerp is where you want to be. The heart of the diamond market is along Hoveniersstraat, or Gardner’s Street. You’ll find people from all over the world trading and bartering precious diamonds like they do it every day. Which, of course, they do!


When you want the highest quality ruby, Burma (also known as Myanmar) is the place to go. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) points out that rubies from Burma will command a premium in the market. Despite the confusion around the country’s name, rubies from this area are still referred to as “Burmese rubies.” The ultimate Burmese rubies are known as ‘pigeon’s blood rubies’ due to their deep red color. Fred Ward, a GIA graduate gemologist and author of a series of books on gems, comments that “fine rubies are typically sold as being either from Burma or not from Burma.”[1] If two rubies of comparable quality are offered for sale, the Burmese gem can fetch double the price.


Ancient records recount tales of Serendip, also called “Gem Island,” where handfuls of jewels tumble down the mountains with each heavy rain. It may sound like a mythical place, but Serendip actually exists; today it’s called Sri Lanka, and it’s one of the greatest places in the world to find sapphires, as well as several other fine gems. The island prohibits mechanized mining, and many of the farmers are also part-time miners, discovering these precious gemstones as they overturn dirt and gravel. Sri Lanka yields a rainbow of sapphires, from the traditional blue to fancy sapphires in pinks and yellows, as well as the most expensive sapphire color, the salmon-hued padparadscha.


Undisputedly, the finest emeralds are of Colombian origin. With about 150 known deposits, it’s consistently cited as the top location for fine emeralds. Colombian emeralds are unique in that they have an especially pure green color, and lack the bluish tint found in many other deposits. Colombia is also home to rare trapiche emeralds, which have a six-rayed star that radiates from the center of the stone. When purchasing a Colombian emerald, make sure that it’s actually from Colombia, as some simply use the term to describe any vivid medium or medium-dark emerald. Whether you’re a world traveler headed to Antwerp, Burma, Sri Lanka, or Colombia, or you’re just taking a weekend trip to Canada or Mexico, jewelry insurance through Lavalier always has you covered. No matter where you go, your insurance policy travels with you. What are you waiting for? Crack open that guidebook and get planning! [1] Ward, Fred. (2003). Rubies & sapphires (4th ed.). Bethesda, MD: Gem Book Publishers.

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Lavalier is pleased to share this material with its customers. Please note, however, that nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice or the provision of professional consulting services. This material is for general informational purposes only, and while reasonable care has been utilized in compiling this information, no warranty or representation is made as to accuracy or completeness.