My Favorite Gem Underdogs (in no particular order):
1. Chrysoberyl: this gem belongs with the family of alexandrite, but it is more durable with a hardness of 8.5 - which even beats corundum. The yellow color is really pretty, with the nicest specimens being lemon yellow. The browns are so-so. When cut well, Chrysoberyl is very brilliant, crisp, and it is still reasonable in price. I've seen them as low as $20/ct on the web for the smaller and more brown or very light yellow varieties. But remember that even for Chryso's, the 1, 2 and 3 carat imply shifts in price. The cat's eye chrysoberyl is also interesting, but in large sizes it is very expensive. I prefer the faceted gems. Right now much of Chrysoberyl comes from Tanzania and Sri Lanka. I like the Tanzanian gems, which are usually brighter, less brown.
|Chrysoberyl Lot, The Brown in the Corner is Sri Lankan, the Center is Tanzanian|
2. Merelani Mint Garnet: some internet forums say it's just a "lesser" form of tsavorite, and the term "mint" is pure marketing to drive up the price. False - and true. The term "mint" for the color is new, and mint garnet is Tsavorite. But: Merelani mints have to come from the Merelani mines. I've seen other Tanzanian mints, and they're not as nice. The Merelanis have no secondary yellow compared to standard light colored Tsavorite. Right now Merelani mints and Tsavorites are priced about the same, with Tsavorite topping mints in the larger sizes. Merelani mint production is insanely tiny, and most lighter Tsavorites don't even come close in terms of color, crispness, and beauty. I'll take a mint anytime over a Tsav. Tsavorite production is down as well, so I expect both of these to only go up in price as availability dwindles. I don't think you can go wrong buying a nicer specimen for your collection.
|Merelani Mint Garnet Mix, The Nicest is Center Front, 5.8mm, Portuguese Cut|
|Matched Pair Color Change Garnet, Tanzania|
|Color Change Garnet, Possibly Madagascar|
|Tanzanian Color Change Garnet Pair in Incandescent Light, the Color Change is Actually Stronger|
|Rare Green Zircon|