Emerald Gemstone Guide – Price, Quality Factors & More!

If you are reading this, then I’m guessing you want to learn more about Emeralds?

Awesome, you have come to the right place as in this guide, I go through all of the things you need to know about these beautiful gemstones and whether you are looking to learn or thinking about buying a Emerald, the information below will be useful to know, so let’s get started…

Quick Emerald Facts:

  • Emerald is the Birthstone for May
  • Emerald is the gemstone for the 20th, 35th and 55th Wedding Anniversary
  • Emerald is part of the Beryl family of gemstones, which also includes Aquamarine and Morganite

Emerald Properties and Origins

I’m not going to get too scientific here but the properties of Emerald are important to know as they have a big impact on how best to use these stones in jewellery.

As I said in the facts section above, Emerald is part of the Beryl family of gemstones, which also includes Aquamarine and Morganite. Beryl is Beryllium Aluminum Silicate (Be3Al2(Si6O18)) and in its purest form is colourless and called Goshenite.

The green colour in Emerald is caused by the presence of Chromium (for you gem geeks, Chromium is also what causes the red colour in Rubies).

Let’s stop with the chemistry lesson and look at the physical properties of Emerald as they aren’t the most durable of gemstones:


Emeralds have a hardness of 7 1/2 – 8 on the Mohs Hardness scale.



Emeralds have poor toughness and are quite brittle.


Emeralds have good stability.

If you aren’t sure what I mean by these terms, I’ve covered them below:

  • Hardness – this how hard the surface of the gemstones is
  • Toughness – this is how strong the stone is in terms of the stone breaking or fracturing
  • Stability – which is how well the stone deals with physical and chemical changes such as heat, light and exposure to chemicals (things like cleaning products etc)

Emeralds need to be handled with care as they do break very easily, which is why they aren’t suited to jewellery that is worn every day, such as an engagement ring and ideally, should only be used in earrings or neckwear as it helps to protect the stone.

Where Are Emeralds Found?

Emeralds are found in many countries around the world, including Colombia, Brazil, Zambia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Madagascar.

When it comes to the origin of Emeralds, some locations are more desirable than others and this can have a big impact on the price of a stone, some desirable locations are:

  • Colombia – by far the most famous and desirable location for Emeralds, with the Muzo region believed to be the source of some of the best Emeralds ever found and stones will often be marketed as Colombian Emeralds
  • Brazil – historically a very important Emeralds and for many years the Brazilian fields were the second most important location for Emeralds
  • Zambia – now a very important location for Emeralds, with the top stones rivalling the quality of those found in Colombia, with many stones from here being marketed as Zambian Emeralds

Madagascar is becoming an important player for Emeralds but stones from here don’t have the same kind of demand or desirability as those from the locations mentioned above.

Emerald Price

Emerald prices can vary massively from less than $50/carat to over $100,000/carat due to the large number of factors that affect the price of an Emerald, including:

  • Colour
  • Clarity
  • Weight
  • Whether it is natural or synthetic
  • The origin of the stone
  • Whether it has been treated
  • Style of Cut & Cut Quality
  • If the stone comes with a lab report

This is why it is nearly impossible to give any kind of guidance on Emerald prices online and prices are determined on a stone-by-stone basis by people who understand the Emerald market.

In the Emerald Quality Factors section below, I will look at some of these sections in much more detail and explain how these factors impact the price of Emerald.

Emerald Quality & Price Factors

Now we know what Emeralds are and where they come from, let’s take a look at the quality and price factors as these all play an important role in how much a Emerald is worth!

Emerald Colour

A dark and light coloured emerald

When we are talking about colour in Emeralds, we are talking about the quality of the colour as this has a big impact on the price of the stone as the better the colour, the more desirable it is, making it more valuable.

But what do I mean by the quality of the colour?

Well, there are a few things to consider when looking at colour in Emeralds, which are:

  • Hue – this is the main body colour of the stone and ideally, this will be pure green but Emeralds can have secondary tones of yellow or blue, with yellowish hues being the least desirable
  • Tone – this is how light or dark the stone is and Emeralds can range from very light green to very dark green, with stones falling in the middle of this range being the most desirable
  • Saturation – this is how evenly the colour is spread across the stone and good quality stones will have a nice even colour distribution, without any obvious colour zones

So there is plenty to consider when it comes to colour in Emerald, with pure green stones with good tone and saturation being incredibly rare.

And while this is the ‘ideal’ colour for an Emerald, what people like in their stone comes down to personal preference.

The Gem Guide: Buying an Emerald
Natural Emerald: Img Credit GIA

Emerald Clarity

Clarity is up there with colour in terms of importance and plays a big factor in how much a stone costs, if you aren’t sure what I mean by clarity, this is how free the stone is from inclusions and blemishes.

But clarity is treated slightly differently with Emeralds than it is with some other gemstones as it is expected that an Emerald will have inclusions, especially fractures due to the way Emeralds are.

Good Clarity

  • The Emerald is transparent/translucent
  • Inclusions aren’t overly obvious to the naked eye
  • Any inclusions don’t detract from the beauty of the stone

Poor Clarity

  • The Emerald is opaque
  • Inclusions are very noticeable to the naked eye
  • The inclusions impact the beauty and durability of the stone

As with colour, there is a spectrum when it comes to clarity, with many Emeralds falling somewhere in the middle of what I have listed above and unless you have a lot of money to spend on a ‘clean’ Emerald, it will have a few inclusions in the stone.

Emeralds Are NOT Clarity Graded

Unlike Diamonds, Emeralds are not clarity graded by gemmologists or gem labs, so be aware of anyone selling an Emerald who is using Diamond clarity grades such as SI or VVS to describe the clarity of an Emerald.

Emerald Cut

The next quality factor is cut and just like colour, this is broken down into two parts, which are the style of the cut and the quality of cut.

Style of Cut

Due to Emeralds being quite a brittle gemstone, they are often cut into styles that help protect the stone, with popular styles being:

  • Emerald Cut (named after the stone)
  • Oval
  • Cushion (including elongated cushions)
  • Round

There are a few reasons why these styles are the main options for Emeralds:

  1. They protect the fragile edges of the stone as pointed corners can easily chip/break
  2. They help bring out the colour in the stone
  3. They are timeless styles that don’t really go out of fashion

The most popular exception to the first reason is the pear cut, which is a popular style for Emeralds but the pointed tip can easily be protected by a well-designed setting.

Obviously, at special requests, they can be cut into other styles and you can find square cut Emeralds in smaller sizes but they are very rare over 1 carat.

Quality of Cut

While the style of cut does play a part in the value of the stone, the quality of the cut is more important as it can be the difference between the stone looking amazing or dull and lifeless.

But most Emeralds are cut as a compromise between optimising the colour and beauty of the stone and retaining weight as generally, the heavier the stone, the more it costs.

When it comes to the quality of the cut, there are some things that determine whether it has been cut well or poorly, these include:

  • Proportions – have the crown and/or pavilion been cut too shallow or deep
  • Facets – are they properly aligned and have crisp edges
  • Table – is the table in the centre of the stone
  • Girdle – is a straight and even or wonky
  • Polish – are there polishing lines of the facet faces

For top quality stones, they are usually cut to a very high standard and these things aren’t an issue but as the price per carat starts to drop, usually, the quality of the cut does as well.

Emerald Treatments

When it comes to treatments in Emeralds, they are always focused on improving the clarity as Emeralds with very good clarity that don’t require any enhancement are extremely rare and sell for a premium.

The majority of Emeralds on sale at any one time will have been clarity treated in some way and there are a three main ways this is done:

Fracture Filling (Oil)

This is the most common treatment that is done to Emeralds and an industry-accepted one.
The process involves filling surface-reaching fractures with oil, such as Cedarwood oil and this makes the fractures much less visible but unfortunately this treatment isn’t permanent as the oil can come out.

Fracture Filling (Resin)

A modification of the fracture filling with oil is to fill it with a resin.
This is usually done to Emeralds that have more significant fractures within the stone as the resin can not only reduce the appearance of fractures but also help the durability of the stone.
It is also a bit more permanent than fracture filling with oil.


This is done to very low-quality material that also has poor colour and the process is similar to that of fracture filling but instead of oil, they use a dye to not only reduce the appearance of the fractures but also make the stone have a more attractive colour but this isn’t permanent and the colour does come out of the stone and are best avoided.

In terms of price, how the Emerald has been treated does have a big impact and it is not only how the stone has been treated but the degree the which it has been and the GIA developed a classification for Emerald treatments, which they include in their reports.

  • No Indication of Clarity Treatment – pretty self-explanatory, they could find any indication of treatment, this may be referred to as a ‘No oil’ or ‘insignificant’
  • Clarity Enhanced (F1) – this means that the Emerald has a minor clarity enhancement, such as oil to improve the appearance
  • Clarity Enhanced (F2) – this means the Emerald has had moderate clarity enhancement, such as more significant filling to improve the appearance of the stone
  • Clarity Enhanced (F3) – this means the Emerald has had significant clarity enhancement and the result of the treatment has had a big impact on the appearance of the stone

Currently, the GIA doesn’t tell you what the Emerald has been filled with but there are some other gem labs that have the ability to test and report this.

Natural vs Synthetic (Lab-Grown) Emeralds

Whether an Emerald is natural or synthetic can have a huge impact on the price of the stone, especially if they are of similar quality.

For example, the synthetic Emerald in the image above can be bought for less than $20/carat but a natural of the same size and quality could easily be over $1000/carat and could be over $10,000/carat if it hasn’t been treated.

If the stone is being sold as an Emerald, then it is assumed that the stone is natural as all synthetic stones state that is synthetic, man-made or lab-created so that you as the buyer know that it isn’t a natural Emerald.

One interesting thing about synthetic Emeralds is that have better clarity and are more durable than their natural counterparts and for the price, are an interesting option for rings.

Lab Reports

Lab Reports are an important document but not every Emerald will be sold with a report as unlike Diamond reports, they don’t give any information about the quality of the stone but they do include some very useful information, which can include:

  • The stone, size, weight etc
  • The identity of the stone
  • Whether the stone is natural or synthetic
  • If the stone has been treated or not and how much impact the treatment has
  • The origin of the stone (it is not possible to do this on some stones)

And a report from a reputable gem lab, such as the GIA, Gubelin, SSEF, IGI or Anchorcert is essential if the seller is claiming that the Emerald is untreated and from a specific location.

Just a quick note, the labs mentioned above only produce reports, they never produce certificates. If you ever see an Emerald with documentation that says certificate or certificate of authenticity then run away as fast as you can!!

Emerald Gemstone FAQ

A good quality Emerald will have a vivid green colour and not be too light or dark, the stone will also have minimal inclusions that aren’t overly obvious to the naked eye. The stone will also be cut to a good standard to maximise the colour and reduce the appearance of any inclusions.

Inclusions are one of the main ways that Natural Emeralds are identified, they can also determine the origin of the stone but knowledge and experience of identifying Emeralds is required to make an accurate assessment.

Emeralds are very brittle stones, with most Natural Emeralds having fractures in the stone and the wear and tear of being worn in a ring everyday can easily cause the stone to break but they are suitable to be worn in earrings and neckwear.

Emeralds a reasonably hard gemstones, measuring between 7 1/2 and 8 on the Mohs hardness scale but they can still quite easily get chipped or scratched if not looked after.


I know this is a bit on the bulky side but I have covered everything that I think you need to know when learning about Emeralds from their origin to the quality factors and lots in between.

If you are looking to buy an Emerald, then some tips I would give are:

  1. Always buy from reputable dealers
  2. If they are claiming the stone is untreated or from a desirable location such as Colombia, then make sure it comes with a report from a reputable lab to back this up
  3. Buy the stone you like, it might not be ‘perfect’ but if you like it, then it is the right stone for you
  4. Avoid buying Emeralds for rings, especially engagement rings as they aren’t durable enough to be worn every day

Other articles from The Gem Guide series:

I'm Paul Haywood FGA DGA, the owner and founder of Haywoods Gems, I'm a fully qualified Gemmologist and Diamond Grader from the Gemmological Association of Great Britain.

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