The Emerald Buying Guide

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 Sapphire or a 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 Rockefeller Emerald

The Rockefeller Emerald – Image courtesy of the Telegraph

So now you have a little bit more knowledge about Emeralds, what things should you do or ask when you are going to buy one?

If you can, always look at the stone in person before buying it.

In today’s society, a lot of people just order things online and hope that it is ok when the postman delivers it but when it comes to buying gemstones, especially expensive gemstones, I always advise people to go and have a look at the stone before you buy it. This is because it is very difficult to accurately depict a gemstone in a picture and it is happening more and more than companies are either having images re-touched to make the stones look better or using digitally created images. Every gemstone is unique and seeing the stone in person only makes the experience of buying it more enjoyable, also ask the seller to show you the stone under different lighting as LED lights manage to make nearly all gemstones look amazing. The truest light to view a gemstone under is daylight, this can either be natural daylight or using daylight balanced lighting as this give you a better idea of how the stone will look when you are wearing it. If you can you also want to acquire or borrow a 10x jewellers loupe, so that you can take a closer look at the stone.

Quality factors that affect the price of an Emerald

Clarity

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.

Colour

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.

Treatments

Untreated Emeralds are incredibly rare, this is due to that the majority of stones contain fractures. The most common and accepted treatment for Emeralds is filling the fractures with oil, these are usually natural oils such as cedarwood. Ideally you would want the stone to only have minor oiling as this means the stone only had a small amount of visible fractures before the treatment. It should be noted that oiling is not a permanent treatment and over time the oil can be removed, especially if the stone is incorrectly cleaned or it is exposed to chemicals that affect oil such as cleaning fluids.

Origin

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 trust worthy their reports are.

Things to avoid

Dyed Stones

Very low quality stones with numerous fractures and poor colour are often filled with a dye to improve the visual appearance of the stone. These are to be avoided as the dye can easily be removed, sometimes even just picking the stone up can cause the dye to run.

Synthetic Stones

While synthetic stones have their place in the market and in some cases can be preferable to lower quality stones in cheaper jewellery. If you are buying an expensive piece, then natural Emeralds are the only choice.

Soude Emeralds

Soude Emeralds are not real Emeralds, they are composite stones made up of a colourless crown and pavilion sections with a green coloured cement or adhesive in the centre. The crown and pavilion can be quartz, synthetic spinel or even glass.

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