Painite Gemstone: Properties, Meanings, Value & More

painite gemstonePainite is a red gemstone from Myanmar originally mistaken for ruby. It’s known for being one of the rarest gemstones in the world, which is part of why we’ve included it in our list of the top 10 gemstones of all time.

But is painite the rarest gem? In 2005, painite officially held the Guinness World Record for the world’s rarest gemstone, with under 24 painite gems known in 2004. 

Since then, however, there have been thousands of fragments and crystals uncovered, but facetable material is still extremely scarce. 

This gem’s rarity and beauty means it’s sought after by collectors and rare gem enthusiasts alike. If you yourself are thinking of browsing some painite for sale, we’ll fill you in on all of the properties, history, benefits, and prices behind this stone so you can shop with confidence. 

painite gemstone

About Painite Stone

Painite shares a resemblance to both ruby and garnet, making this rare crystal an alternative July birthstone (ruby’s month) or January birthstone (garnet’s month). 

Additionally, it can be an extra special substitute for the traditional 40th wedding anniversary (ruby) or 2nd anniversary (garnet) gemstone. On its own, painite is a zodiac stone for Pisces and Aquarius signs. 

Although painite is a semi-precious gemstone, its rarity exceeds that of any precious gemstone (i.e. diamond, sapphire, ruby, or emerald). 

But why is the painite so rare? The stone’s rarity comes from its composition. Painite minerals contain boron and zirconium, which are very rarely found together. In fact, no other mineral besides painite contains both elements.

Painite Specifications & Characteristics

The mineral painite is a calcium zirconium aluminum boron silicate. The stone's ideal formula is CaZrBAl9O18 with small amounts of hafnium and titanium. 

Most of the stone is aluminum oxide (around 70 percent) and zirconium oxide (around 17 percent). Common impurities include chromium, vanadium, and iron, with the former two contributing to painite’s color.  

The most similar mineral to painite is the rare aluminum borate mineral jeremjevite. Other borate minerals you may recognize are howlite and londonite. 

Usually, painite forms as long, transparent crystals with a hexagonal crystal system, though the crystal system may seem orthorhombic. 

How to Identify Painite

It’s easy to confuse painite for a more commonly known gem like ruby or garnet. Even the first discoverer and the British Museum of Natural History have mistaken painite for different stones, namely ruby, garnet, and brown tourmaline. 

Moreover, painite’s density and coloring resembles that of ruby and garnet (almandine and spessartite specifically).

However, painite is birefringent (having two refractive index measurements instead of one) while garnets are not. For rubies, you can use refractive index measurements for differentiation; rubies have a refractive index of 1.76-1.77, lower than that of painite. 

For all of painite’s mineral properties, including its refractive index and birefringence values, check out the list below:

  • Mohs hardness: 7.5-8

  • Color: Red, brownish-red, orange-red

  • Crystal structure: Hexagonal; Pseudo-orthorhombic

  • Luster: Vitreous (glassy)

  • Transparency: Transparent

  • Refractive index: 1.787-1.816

  • Density: 4.0-4.3

  • Cleavage: None determined

  • Fracture: Conchoidal

  • Streak: Red

  • Luminescence: Fluorescence present - weak red in LW-UV, strong red or green in SW-UV

  • Pleochroism: Present & strong in ruby-red to pale brownish-orange or pale red-orange; Yellowish-brown to red or brownish-violet; Near-colorless to pale orange-pink (pinkish specimens)

  • Birefringence: 0.029 

That’s enough mineralogy — let’s dive into painite’s symbolism and journey through time!

painite gemstone faceted square

Painite Meaning & History

Though painite doesn’t carry much symbolism on its own, its coloring does. As a red stone, painite symbolizes power, passion, and purpose. 

Red in Chinese culture also symbolizes success and happiness. You may see red doors on local shops or adorning brides, both of which are done to attract good luck. 

In Feng Shui, red stones are placed to evoke passion and attract prosperity. Red connects to the masculine, outward-focused yang energy. 

First Discovery

Painite’s name honors the stone’s discoverer. British mineralogist, gemologist, and gemstone dealer Arthur Charles Davy Pain (or Arthur C.D. Pain) made the first official discovery of painite in Myanmar (then Burma) in the 1950s. 

At first, Pain thought it was a ruby and donated it to the British Museum of Natural History. Analysis done by mineralogists at the museum proved it was an entirely new gemstone.

Along with British mineralogists Dr. Max Hey (or M.H. Hey) and Dr. Gordon Frank Claringbull (or G.F. Claringbull), who worked as the museum’s director, Pain published the findings on painite in Mineralogical Magazine in 1957. 

This first painite (dubbed “painite #1” by many) was a 1.7-gram crystal that still resides at the museum in London. A slice of the crystal (dubbed “painite #1b”) used for analysis is currently in Pasadena, CA, at the California Institute of Technology.

Later Discoveries 

Mineralogists conducted further analysis and published more findings on painite in 1976, 1986, and 1996. However, only two more painite crystals were found between 1957 and 2001. 

The second painite discovered, a 2.118-gram crystal, is also in the British Museum of Natural History. The third painite, a 0.27-gram crystal, wouldn’t be discovered until 1979 when gemologists at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) found it in a group of rough gemstone specimens.

A fourth painite stone showed up in Myanmar in 2001. In 2002, another painite locality in Myanmar emerged. Still, there were under 24 painite gems known in 2004, earning the stone its Guinness World Record in 2005.

Later in 2005, miners in Myanmar finally discovered a new, significant outcrop of painite. Though only 2 faceted painite gems were known before 2005, there have been several hundred painite gems faceted since then. 

Interestingly, the British Museum of Natural History discovered in 2007 that a stone from Myanmar they’d labeled as a brown tourmaline (and had on display) was in fact a painite. 

Besides being a delight to rare gem enthusiasts and collectors, what is painite good for? Crystal healing, of course!

painite gemstone healing crystal

Painite Healing Properties

Like all gemstones, rare and common alike, painite can function as a healing stone. Like other red gemstones, painite stone benefits include increasing passion, vitality, and motivation.

Painite crystals with a brown undertone bring in the benefits of brown gemstones, such as grounding and stability. Additionally, painite is said to help you leave behind habits or thought patterns that no longer serve you. 

What is painite used for in chakra healing? Painite is a chakra stone for all seven chakras (energy centers) along your body. That means instead of using it to just target a specific chakra blockage, you can use painite to open and align all the chakras, bringing greater balance and energy flow throughout your body, mind, and spirit. 

Shifting from the crystal healing realm back to the gemology sphere, how do you know an individual painite’s value? We’ll tell you next!


Painite Gemstone Properties

Though rarity is the number-one price factor, other properties contributing to painite’s value are its color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. 


Painite is a red stone, though raw crystals may appear pink due to pink rubies growing on the stone. Brown and orange are possible undertones, with orange-brown being the rarest painite color. The stone’s coloring is caused by chromium and vanadium impurities. 

Some painites may be a dark enough shade of red to appear almost black. The best painites have deep red or vibrant garnet-red hues. 


Facetable painite crystals are scarce, and among the small amount out there, the majority have lots of inclusions and fractures. That means despite painite’s potential for gemstone greatness — good durability, sparkle, and coloring — it’s extremely difficult to facet. 

Usually, trying to navigate the fragile areas results in gem cutters making shallow, less attractive faceted cuts. That said, these rarities still command top-dollar prices. Some of the faceted painites out there have cushion, oval, rectangle step, and square corner cuts. 


Clarity describes the amount of visible inclusions in a gem. Good clarity is more important in transparent painites with bright enough coloring to allow light through, as inclusions will alter the stone’s appearance to the naked eye. 

Hexagonal, tabular phlogopite crystals are a common inclusion in painite, along with feather-like inclusions and thin sheets within tiny cavities. 

Having lots of inclusions can lower a painite’s durability as well. The most valuable painites will be eye-clean, meaning they lack visible inclusions to the naked eye.

Carat Weight & Size

Painite crystals can grow to large sizes. The largest currently known painite specimen clocks in at 213.52 carats (42.7 grams), according to the Guinness World Records as of March 2020. 

Another impressively large specimen reported in 2006 weighs an impressive 3,165 carats (633 grams), though it also has rubies on it.

Nevertheless, most painite crystals are small and/or fragmented shards.

painite gemstone rough crystal specimenImage credit: Rob Lavinsky, – CC-BY-SA-3.0

Painite Formation & Sources

Painite forms inside metamorphic rocks called skarn (a.k.a. tactites), which are coarse-grained stones often filled with minerals containing calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, aluminum, and silica. 

Miners typically find painite rough within gem gravels, where minerals wash down from forests and settle into river beds. 

Other gems found near painite include phlogopite, spinel, and corundum (sapphire & ruby). You’ll often find painite formed near or even on top of ruby.

Where can painite be found? Painite only comes from one nation: Myanmar. The original discovery happened in Ohngaing in the Mogok Valley of the Mandalay Region. Since 2002, more localities in Myanmar have popped up, such as:

  • Kyauk-Pyat-That in Mogok Township

  • Baw-lon-gyi (Big Ball) in Mogok Township

  • Ye-aye in Mogok Township

  • Namyazeik in Kachin State

Now, the million-dollar question on everyone’s minds: how much does a painite cost?


Painite Price & Value

Before the more recent locales in Myanmar were discovered, almost all painites were owned by private entities, namely museums, non-profit gemology research labs, and universities. The new locales finally introduced painite to the public market, albeit in small amounts for top-dollar prices. 

Currently, the painite price per gram for gemstones is $250,000 to $300,000 per gram. For those who measure in carats, that’s $50,000 to $60,000 per carat. However, increasing availability (albeit a small increase) means you may find some faceted painites for around $800 to $6,000 per carat. 

Tiny raw painite crystals (uncut) are significantly lower in price, usually around $0.60-$15 per carat if they’re not gem-quality. 

With an investment like that, you’ll want to know how to take care of your painite gem.

Painite Care and Maintenance

Although painite’s cleavage is absent and hardness is high, the common presence of abundant inclusions and fractures in many specimens makes it vulnerable to breakage. That’s why proper gemstone care is crucial. 

Given the stone’s rarity and price point, it may be in your best interest to take your painite to a certified gemologist so they can determine your specific painite’s fragility. Though painite jewelry is uncommon, we recommend protective settings for vulnerable options like a painite ring. 

If you don’t want to take it to a professional cleaner, you can safely clean painite at home. Make a mixture of lukewarm water and mild soap, then dip a soft toothbrush in the solution. Gently scrub the stone, rinse away soap residue, and dry it with a soft, microfiber cloth. 

Pining for Painite?

You don’t have to be a gem and mineral collector to appreciate the beauty and allure behind painite, a stone dubbed the “holy grail of rare gemstones” by some. If you’re looking for a truly one-of-a-kind gemstone as rare and special as you, painite may just be the perfect choice for you!

Buy painite gemstones today!

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