Emerald Gemstone - a Full In-depth Look

What Are Emeralds 

A form of the mineral beryl, emeralds rank 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Sapphires and rubies rank 9.0 and diamonds are an impressive 10.0. The green color is the result of traces of chromium or sometimes vanadium that is present in the stone. Here is a bit about the fascinating gems.

Emeralds generally contain many inclusions and are therefore considered poor in terms of toughness. A large amount of inclusions also means that emeralds are not graded based on magnification, but rather, on what the eye can see. In fact, as long as there aren’t any visible flaws, the stone is considered flawless.


Emerald Origin 

In addition to the 4 Cs the origin of an emerald can have a huge effect on its price. Approximately 50% to 95% of the world’s emerald production hails from Colombia, though it all depends on the particular year, precise origin, and emerald grade. Colombian emeralds are considered superior to other emeralds thus automatically placing such stones in a more expensive category. Zambia comes in second, with a very high annual production of emeralds as well. It does not end there though. Emeralds are found around the globe, in much smaller numbers of course, in Australia, Egypt, Canada, Norway, China, Switzerland, and even in the United States.

There is no denying the beauty of an emerald, but the attraction does not stop there. Many also see emeralds as a sign of good luck. Due to their rarity, it is difficult to come by a high quality emerald, especially one for an affordable price. That is why there are many imitations out there posing as the real thing. It is important to browse through the stones wisely and become as educated as possible before adding one of these green beauties to your gemstone collection.

Emerald jewelry from Leibish

The Formation Process of an Emerald

Natural emeralds are the results of geological events that took place in the Earth’s crust hundreds of millions of years ago. Emeralds formed one molecule at a time amid very specific conditions. When hydrothermal fluids escape from magma deep within the Earth’s crust, hydrothermal veins are formed. It is within these veins that emeralds can come to be, assuming that conditions are optimal and elements, such as beryllium, are present. Colombian emeralds, some of the most famous and sought after emeralds on the planet, are formed in this manner. However, not all emeralds are formed in hydrothermal veins. Some are formed in pegmatite deposits. These are similar to hydrothermal veins, except for one main difference. Hot water is the leading element in hydrothermal veins whereas magma or molten rock is the primary agent in pegmatite deposits.

Emerald price and value

Asking about prices for emeralds is pretty much like asking how much a car costs. It really depends on what type of emerald you are looking at. This includes its size, color, color intensity, clarity, and origin. Colombian emeralds for example will demand far higher prices than emeralds from other locations around the globe. Zambian emeralds are a close second. In short, there are a variety of factors that contribute to an emerald stone’s price. Here is a look at some of these factors and which are most important to consider before making an emerald purchase.

What Makes an Emerald Valuable?

Though many gemstones, including diamonds, are assessed in similar ways, each gemstone is evaluated differently. The 4Cs apply here as well, except in this case they stand for color, clarity, cut, and crystal. As with many gemstones including rubies, color is the most important factor. With emeralds, crystal is almost as important. In order for an emerald to be truly valuable it not only must display a pure and intense green color, but it also has to appear transparent for that perfect crystal gemstone look.

A shovel of both rough and polished emeralds

Emerald Quality Assessment

The 4 Cs

For those who are unfamiliar with the term ‘the 4 Cs,’ it refers to the four most important aspects of gemstones, including emeralds. While the 4 Cs differ slightly from stone to stone and are mainly known for their association with diamonds, they still play an important role in grading emeralds and determining their worth. Emeralds are graded according to the 4Cs: Color, Clarity, Cut and in the case of emeralds, Crystal. Crystal refers to the transparency of the emerald.

 In addition to having a rich green color, an emerald must display great transparency in order to be considered valuable. In terms of color, only emeralds that are medium to dark in tone are considered emeralds. Lighter stones are known as green beryl. The highest quality emeralds, color-wise, are those with a tone of 75%. Just to bring things into perspective, a stone with 0% tone would be colorless and one with 100% would be opaque black. Beryl comes in many other colors, and some are considered gems as well. These include the aquamarine, yellow heliodor, pink morganite, and colorless goshenite. Since an emerald’s glow is more detectable in larger stones, they are generally sold in bigger sizes than some other gemstones.

Though emeralds are classically green, they actually range from yellow-green to blue-green. Emerald color is defined based on three aspects: its hue (color), saturation (intensity), and tone (purity). The more vivid the green, the darker and purer it shows, the more valuable the emerald. Very light emeralds are actually classified as green beryl, whereas medium to dark emeralds receives the prestigious title of emerald.  The best emeralds are those that rank 75% in tone, where 0% is a transparent stone and 100% would be opaque black.

Mix of Leibish Emeralds

Unique Factor

Every emerald is unique in its own way, but there are some types of emeralds that are special in some way. These include Trapiche emeralds, which display a unique star-like design, and different colored emeralds such as pink or yellow emeralds. All of these varieties are unique and much harder to come by than your typical green stone. There are various price levels among each and every one of these stones, but as a whole, these gems can come with a heftier price tag.


It is normal and natural for emeralds to have inclusions as well as surface breaking fissures. There is a bright side to this, which is the fact that emeralds, unlike diamonds, are graded by the eye and not with the assistance of a magnifying device. All it takes for an emerald to be considered flawless is for it to appear clean, without any visible inclusions, to the eye. High quality emeralds, which are stones that are eye-clean, display a vivid primary green color, do not contain anymore than 15% of a secondary color, and showcase a medium dark tone, demand exorbitant prices.

Emerald Diamond Earrings and Ring 

How To Detect A Genuine Emerald

There is endless information out there regarding the authenticity of diamonds and how to differentiate a genuine diamond from a replica. However, when it comes to colored gemstones, particularly emeralds, how is one to know whether or not he or she is looking at the real deal? Let us take a look at the characteristics of an emerald, how to tell the difference between a gemstone and a glass imposter, and how to ensure that you are in fact buying a real emerald.

A sample of a Gubelin report


Gemstone Vs. Glass

In addition to the many different types of natural and synthetic gemstones that may be posing as authentic emeralds, there are simple glass stones hoping to be mistaken for natural emeralds. Similar to other impostors, glass will likely have bubbles and may also display scratches. If the facet cuts are rounded, you are probably looking at glass. While emeralds don’t rank the highest on the Mohs scale of hardness, they are certainly sturdier than glass. Purchase a Mohs kit in order to test the stone’s hardness. If it is real it should rank 7.

The difference between a rough and polished emerald

Emerald Stone Benefits

Most people do not select emeralds as their first gemstone due to several reasons including the popularity of other stones such as diamonds, the prices, and the unique yet very specific color. Unless the emerald happens to be your birthstone or you have a thing for green stones, chances are emeralds won’t make it into your jewelry collection so quickly. 

One does not have to be born in May in order to be able to buy or wear an emerald. The green stone offers so much in terms of appearance. Green emeralds can range in terms of color and intensity so that those in search of a softer hue can be satisfied as well as those looking for a dark and deep shade. The range of colors makes this stone suitable for various skin tones as well as body types. A bright green stone is a terrific way to express one’s bubbly personality and can instantly spice up an ensemble. Colorless diamonds, pearls, and the different types of precious metals may go with practically everything, but emeralds have the rare ability to provide a great deal of color and personality to the table without involving any synthetic materials.

We obviously cannot promise any of these beliefs, but similar to the energetic powers of other stones, it is said that the emerald is full of meaning.

Rubies and emeralds with unbelievable color

Convenience and Cost

In addition to all of the aforementioned benefits and advantages, emeralds are a wise buy because they can be relatively easy to locate and afford. While top-of-the-line emeralds are rare and can cost a fortune, commercial quality stones can be suitable for all sorts of budgets. Add the fact that this category of emeralds is also found in plentiful amounts and you have got yourself a gem that you don’t have to fight tooth and nail to find or afford.

Emerald and diamond rings from Leibish


Emerald meaning

Myths and Beliefs

It is impossible to list an emerald’s benefits without addressing the many beliefs and symbolic meanings that are attributed to this precious gem. These include the belief that the stone is holy. As one of the oldest stones used and worn by individuals dating back to ancient times, the emerald has been believed to carry many important powers and abilities, some of which are still believed to this very day. 

Emeralds have been also known to symbolize rebirth, love, and eternal youth. There was once a myth that emeralds give one a supernatural ability to foretell the future, and even cure women of epilepsy. The name “emerald” is derived from a combination of two languages, Greek and Old French, and means simply green gemstone.

Emeralds have been known to have an array of health benefits including improving one’s speech and memory; assisting with one’s asthma, epilepsy, or amnesia; and curing cardiac problems and insomnia. Furthermore, certain professions were believed to benefit greatly from wearing an emerald. These professions include banking, politics, architecture, finance, and writing. Emeralds symbolize good health, wealth, love, happiness, protection against snakebites, and a promise foreasy labor.

A Pair of LEIBISH Emerald and Diamond Earrings


Famous Emeralds 

Many gemstones have one or several stones that are so large or unusual that they have become famous. In the case of emeralds, there is the Mogul Emerald and the Devonshire Emerald. The former is a 217-carat emerald that was sold in 2001 for $2.2 million. The latter famous emerald was given to the Duke of Devonshire, hence the name, as a gift, in 1831. Its weight was recorded as 1,386 carats and the precious stone is now housed in the Natural History Museum in London.

A 9.72 carat (TW) Emerald Pear & Yellow Diamond Designer Ring 

Emerald Birthstone

Emerald is the birthstone of the month of May. The much-adored green precious gemstone, the emerald, stands for security, kindness, love, beauty, and wisdom. It ranks 7-8 on the Mohs scale of hardness. There are different gemstone personality meanings, but those specific to emeralds translates into people who may or may not hide behind a mask and in the end are truly kind-hearted individuals. 

There is no perfect stone or jewel that is suitable for everyone and every circumstance; there just isn’t. Each gemstone though, whether precious like emeralds or semi-precious, has its own individual charm and personality that can add lots to your wardrobe, jewelry collection, or gemstone collection. There is a reason this vibrant stone has been loved for so many years and continues to hold a great deal of prestige and value. A diamond may be forever, but an emerald has been around forever and will hopefully be around for many years to come.

Have a look through our fine emerald jewelry, and let us know what you like best!

For more information about emeralds invite visitors to our Emeralds FAQ page

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