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How to Know Emerald Value
Evaluating Clarity, Cut, and SizeEvaluating ColorBuying an EmeraldArticle SummaryQuestions & AnswersRelated ArticlesReferences
This article was co-authored by Michael Arnoldi. Michael Arnoldi's family owns Arnoldi Jewelers in California, a three generation family jewelry business that began in Italy and moved over to the United States. Michael has over 10 years of experience in the jewelry industry.
There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
Emeralds have been one of the most sought after gemstones for well over 4,000 years. Many historians associate emeralds with Queen Cleopatra, the last Egyptian pharaoh. Cleopatra was so obsessed with emeralds that she often adorned her robes, jewelry, and crowns with them. Emeralds are about 20 times rarer than diamonds, and they are highly valued. Although you are likely not looking for an emerald to put in a crown, you still may be in the market to buy or sell a quality gemstone. It is important to understand the elements that contribute to the value of an emerald before buying or selling one.
Part 1Evaluating Clarity, Cut, and Size
1Look for inclusions. Inclusions are any materials (such as gas bubbles or tiny crystals) that became trapped inside a stone during its formation. Almost 99% of emeralds have inclusions that are visible with the naked eye or a loupe, a jeweler’s magnifying glass.
- The prevalence of inclusions makes the emerald a Type 3 gemstone, which means that inclusions that can be seen with the naked eye are nearly always present.
- An emerald with excessive inclusions that lessen the stone’s transparency or clarity is worth less than an emerald that has fewer inclusions.
- Be wary of inclusions that reach the gem’s surface, as they may cause the gem to fracture.
2Examine the emerald’s cut. Emeralds can be difficult to cut because the prevalence of inclusions makes them vulnerable to fracturing during the cutting process. Emeralds are often cut in a rectangular shape (known as a "step cut" or an "emerald cut") that helps the stone’s color appear consistent. 
- An emerald’s cut should help protect the stone from potential damage from everyday wear and tear.
- A quality emerald cut enhances the emerald’s hue, tone, and saturation. A good cut will appear sparkly and have a desirable color, while a poor cut may have a nice color but appear dull.
Understand that emeralds come in a variety of sizes. Like most gems, emeralds can come in a wide variety of sizes, from 0.02-0.5 carat (1mm-5mm) accent gems to 1-5 carat (7mm-12mm) center stones used in rings or necklaces.
Do not equate size alone with value. It is true that larger stones are more valuable than smaller stones. However, quality is just as important as size, and large emeralds are more likely to have large or visible inclusions that may affect clarity. A smaller stone of higher quality is likely to hold more value than a larger stone with poorer quality. Additionally, a stone’s color has a significant impact on its value
Part 2Evaluating Color
Understand the importance of color. Emeralds come in a range of colors. Color is one of the most important factors in determining the value of an emerald. The variance of color in emeralds is due to differing amounts of chromium, vanadium, and iron in the environment in which the stones formed.  Color can be subdivided into the categories of hue, tone, and saturation.
2Identify an emerald’s hue. Hue is probably what you think of when you hear the word “color.” An emerald’s hue is its specific type of green.
- Emerald hues can range from bluish-green to a more yellow-green.
- For example, Zambian emeralds are characterized by deep bluish greens, while Brazilian and Colombian emeralds often take on a rich, pure green hue.
3Look at an emerald’s tone. Tone refers to how light or dark the color of an emerald is. Emeralds can range from very light green to very dark green in tone. The association of tone and value is somewhat complicated. Darker emeralds are often considered more valuable, but if an emerald becomes too dark, it becomes less valuable.
- Emeralds with medium to medium-dark tones are the most valuable emeralds in the market.
- Emeralds with pure green or blue-green tones are the most desirable, in part because blue-green emeralds are associated with a very famous and highly-regarded gem mine in Columbia called the Muzo Mine.
- Be aware that emeralds that are too yellow or too blue may not be considered real emeralds and are therefore far less valuable.
4Evaluate an emerald’s saturation. Saturation is tied to the gem’s transparency. Emeralds with high saturation (which means that they are highly transparent) are more valuable than emeralds with low saturation.
- Saturation can be tied to both inclusion and tone; very included gems can appear less transparent. Similarly, very dark green emeralds do not absorb much light, so they appear duller than lighter emeralds.
Part 3Buying an Emerald
Use a reputable jeweler. Buy valuable gems from a trusted source. Be sure that the jeweler has an established reputation. It is best to find a jeweler with a return policy for products that are sold with inaccurate descriptions of clarity and quality.
2Have the gem appraised. It is a good idea to have very expensive gems (or gems that are three carats or larger) appraised by a third party. It is best to use an appraiser who holds membership in the American Society of Appraisers, one of the oldest appraisal societies in the United States. To find an appraiser, take the following steps:
- Search the American Society of Appraisers’ website here.
- Click on “find an appraiser,” then enter your zip code.
- Type in “gems and jewelry” in the appraisal expertise section.
- Select an appraiser from among the search results.
3Request a report from a reputable gemological laboratory such as American Gemological Laboratories (AGL). In order to appropriately evaluate the value of an emerald that you are considering purchasing, you can request an AGL report, which identifies the type, size, cut, clarity, color, and origin of the emerald you are purchasing.
- This report will give you some degree of confidence as to the quality and value of your gem, even before getting a third-party appraisal.
4Understand pricing. Before purchasing an emerald, you should be sure that you are getting a good quality gem for the amount of money you are spending. An AGL report will give you a starting point, but the AGL may not represent accurate market value (AGL report prices are often inflated). To get a better feel for fair pricing, you may want to shop at different jewelers, taking notes about the color, cut, and quality of each gem that you are pricing.
- Keep in mind that pricing a stone is ultimately subjective, so you cannot necessarily come up with a specific “formula” for the exact value of a stone.
5Understand the process of oiling. Emeralds are often treated with oil or resin to improve the stones clarity. This is done because of the emeralds Type 3 nature which means its naturally included. Clarity enhancement is common practice and is considered an acceptable enhancement to the appearance of the gemstone unless it is treated with dyed oil. Emeralds treated using oil will require re-oiling every so often to maintain the stones appearance. 
- Ask whether the emerald has undergone changes that are minor, moderate, or significant. Ask to verify this with an accredited laboratory certificate from GIA or AGL
How can I tell if an emerald is real?
For starters, emeralds form in a rectangular prism, so they won't form like quartz (though sometimes they get chipped, changing their shape). One of the best ways to determine the quality of the gemstone is to find its density. If it's not in the range of 2.67-2.78, then it is a hoax. You can also check out wikiHow's article on determining whether or not your emerald is real.
Don't emeralds need to be in settings that allow them to get air/breathe?
That's an old wive's tale. It's a crystal; it's been underground for thousands of years. It doesn't need air.
Should I buy uncut emeralds online?
You can make a good profit buying and selling emeralds, but they should be uncut if you purchase them online.
I bought an emerald and diamond ring in 1987. What has happened to the value of these stones since then?
Since 2001, prices of diamonds and gemstones in general have risen dramatically.
What is a "commercial" emerald?
"Commercial" is a euphemism meaning lesser quality but possessing some market value.
Where do we find emeralds?
Emeralds are found in South America, Africa and Asia. Dealers sell them all over the world (locally and online).
What is the average cost of a 1K emerald?
There really isn't a good answer for that. The price varies with the size of the cut, the pureness and the shine.
Is an emerald more expensive than a diamond?
If the size and quality are similar, diamonds tend to be more valuable than emeralds.
Is emerald valuable in the raw form?
Yes, as they are sold to gemstone cutters and to collectors of mineral specimens.
What is the approximate price per carat of an emerald?
Emerald prices vary widely with color, cut and clarity. Recent values have been in the $500 range for a carat.
Ask a Question
- Be sure to find out whether an emerald is a mined gem or a lab imitation. Gems that are very clear and vividly green with almost no inclusions may be “too perfect,” which indicates a high-quality lab imitation.
- Have your gem independently appraised by someone not affiliated with the person from whom you are buying the stone either before or shortly after purchase. If the gem is not genuine or was sold to you with false information about quality, return to the jeweler with the appraisal for a refund or exchange.
- Always purchase emeralds from a reputable jeweler with a return policy for stones sold with incorrect or false information.
If you want to know emerald value, you should determine at the quality of the gemstone by looking for inclusions, which are gas bubbles or tiny crystals inside the stone. Inclusions will impact the grade, and therefore the price, of an emerald. Then, evaluate the size and color of the stone. Emeralds come in different hues, or shades of green, and dark green and blue green are the most valuable. If you'd like to get a gem appraised, contact the American Society of Appraisers’ website or find a reputable jeweler. For tips from our Jeweler reviewer on evaluating the cut of an emerald, read on!
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