Most gemstone buyers purchase gems for making jewelry. But some exceptional buyers are gemstone collectors. There are as many different strategies for collecting gemstones as there are collectors. Some people often focus on one kind of gemstone, such as rubies or sapphires. It is not unusual as well for a collector to focus on a particular gem variety from a specific location, such as Burmese ruby or Ceylon sapphire or Russian demantoid garnet.
Some gem collectors collect samples of a particular gemstone from all its known locations in the world. That’s quite easy with tanzanite, but rather difficult with sapphire, however collecting sapphires from all the important deposits – Burma, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Tanzania, Thailand, Cambodia, Australia, Montana, etc. – can be fascinating, and comparing stones from these different locations can really help one appreciate the unique characteristics of the material from each source. Some gem varieties, such as tourmaline, occur in such astonishing variety that the collecting opportunities are endless.
Some people focus not just on rare specimens, but on rare varieties. There are some gem minerals that are so rare that only a small number of specimens are known to exist. They include varieties such as painite, musgravite, benitoite, jeremejevite, red beryl and poudretteite. In case of these kinds of gems hardness is not a crucial question as these are not mounted in jewellery, they are not worn by anyone, they are just placed in a box to become part of a collection. So in case of a real collector stone the key caracteristic is rarity and beauty. The rarer and nicer a collector stone is the more valuable.
Though rare gemstones can be very expensive, gemstone collecting need not be an expensive hobby. It is possible to begin collecting colored stones on a modest budget. Many unusual gems are still inexpensive because the supply is so limited that no market demand is created for them. Many gemstones that are in good supply today will become rarer in the future as mines are exhausted. Time tends to be on the side of the collector.