An incredibly rare gem, Taaffeite is a stunning mauve to purple gemstone of which only a handful of pieces have ever been faceted. It is named after the Irish gemologist Edward Taaffe who identified the gem in 1945. At first, as he sorted through a box of faceted gems that he had bought from Dublin jeweller Robert Dobbie, he assumed the gem was a Spinel,but on closer inspection he noticed that it was birefringent, a characteristic not seen in Spinels.
If industry gossip is correct and less than 4,000cts have ever been faceted, then that’s only 60cts per annum. With annual global production of gem quality Diamonds currently running at over 60 million carats per year, that makes Taaffeite a million times rarer than Diamonds!
The gem was first discovered in Ratnapura, Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka) and a handful of gem quality pieces have now been found in Tanzania, as well as some tiny pieces weighing less than .005ct being discovered in China.