The Complete Guide to Buying an Emerald

Buying an Emerald can be a very fun experience but it can also be a challenge and that is why I want to give you some tips so that you can make an informed decision to help you buy your perfect Emerald. All the tips below have come from many years studying, buying and selling these gorgeous green gemstones.

What is an Emerald?

It is always useful to understand a bit of information about a gemstone before you go and buy one, so here is a little bit of information about Emeralds.

  • Emeralds are part of the Beryl family, which also includes Aquamarine, Heliodor and Morganite
  • The beautiful green colour of Emeralds is caused by the element Chromium. While Chromium produces one of the finest greens in the world, it is also the reason why Emeralds are more brittle than the other members of the Beryl family. Nearly all natural Emeralds have at least on internal fracture.
  • Emeralds measure 7 1/2 on the Mohs hardness scale. This means they are more likely to be chipped or scratched than a Ruby, Sapphire or Diamond
  • The combination of being quite brittle and not that hard means that Emeralds are not the best choice of gemstone for a ring, they are far more suitable for earrings or pendants
  • Birthstone Month: May
  • Anniversary: 20th, 35th and 55th
The Gem Guide: Buying an Emerald
Natural Emerald: Img Credit GIA

Is the Emerald natural or synthetic?

The majority of people buying an Emerald will want a stone that has been made by nature not by someone in a laboratory somewhere and it is something you want to establish early when looking at a Emerald. The difference in price between a natural and synthetic of similar colour and clarity is massively different! One of the easiest ways to tell if an Emerald is natural or synthetic is to look at how free from inclusions the stone is, natural Emeralds are usually quite heavily fractured but synthetics are generally free from inclusions.

Has the Emerald been treated?

Most people will want an untreated stone as it adds more romance to the stone but in reality, it is estimated that over 90% of the Emeralds for sale at any given time have been treated or enhanced in some way but there are good treatments and bad treatments. If the seller is claiming that the Emerald has not been treated, ask them for a lab report from a reputable gem lab that collaborates this.

Good – Fracture Filling with natural oils

As I mentioned above, natural Emeralds are usually quite heavily fractured and without treatment these fractures can easily spotted and they don’t look very nice. So to combat this they fill the fractures with natural oils such as cedar wood oil, this reduces the appearance of the fracture and makes the stone look more attractive. This has been done for many years and is an industry accepted practise. You should take care with your Emerald if it has been fracture filled with oil as the oil can be removed over time and beauty and cleaning products can speed up the removal process.

Bad – Dyed Stones

This is where they fracture fill the stone but rather than using a natural colourless oil like cedar wood oil, they use a green dye. This not only reduces the appearance of the fractures but also changes the colour of the stone. This is usually done to stones with really poor colour and over a period of time, sometimes a very short time, this dye is removed from the stone and reveals the poor quality stone that was treated. Even a hot summer’s day can cause the dye to be removed from the stone.

Quality factors that affect the price of an Emerald


As I said above, the majority of Emeralds on sale will have some fractures due to how brittle they are. The most desirable clarity for an Emerald is ‘eye clean’, this is when the amount of fractures and/or inclusions are difficult to see or cannot be seen by the naked eye and these stone generally attract higher premiums. When buying an Emerald, you want to buy a stone that is as free from fractures as possible as this will help to extend the life of your stone.


Emeralds are traditionally known for their deep, rich green colour but this is also the most expensive colour. The greens that can be seen in Emeralds ranges from a very light lime green colour to very dark, nearly black green. Some stones may also have a bluey green tint. The right colour for your Emerald is very much down to personal preference.


As with many gemstones, the larger the size and weight, the more they cost per carat and it is no different with Emeralds, especially high quality ones. Due to their brittle nature, many Emerald crystals do not grow that big and that is why Emeralds weighing over 3 carats cost considerably more than smaller stones.


The origin of the Emerald can have a big impact on the value. The most desirable location is Colombia as they have historically produced some of the world’s finest Emeralds but any stone from Colombia will attract a higher price per carat than the equivalent quality stone from anywhere else.

Emeralds are found in many other countries around the world but not many produce good, gem quality stones and until the recent discoveries in Zambia, Brazil produced the best quality Emeralds after Colombia.

Lab Reports

Laboratory reports are not as common amongst coloured gemstones as they are with diamonds but they can be a good source of information and if the company or person selling the Emerald claims that the stone has not been treated in anyway and/or claim a location, then a report from a reputable gem lab, such as GIA, AGL, IGI, SSEF or Anchorcert is a must. The majority of these labs have online report checkers so you can check to make sure the report is genuine. If the report is from a lab that you have never heard of, it is always worth doing a quick internet search to see if there are any reviews of these labs and how trustworthy their reports are.

Finally….. Always choose the stone you like. It might not be perfect but as long as you like it, that is all that matters.

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