Emerald Buying Guide

If you’re out there looking for the best emerald for your money, then please contact us and let us know your budget and what size you’re looking for. You can visit us and choose form the wide range or we’ll browse through thousands of emeralds on our stock and send you pictures of suggested stones to choose from that fit your needs the best.

The Importance of the Four C’s

We encourage all our visitors to learn about the importance of the 4 C’s when purchasing emeralds.

Though there are the same 4 C’s for Diamonds, we give greater or lesser weight to each one, according to its particular significance when assessing emeralds.

Let’s take a look at each one, in order of importance.

  • Color

Without a question, color is by far the most meaningful of the 4 c’s. What captivates you right away when you see an emerald is undoubtedly its color — either a vibrant, passionate color or a dull, limp color — or possibly somewhere in between.

Color is broken up into three categories: hue, tone, and saturation.

Emerald Hue

Hue means the type of green the emerald has, for example, golden green or bluish green. Most emeralds in the market today are are bluish green. The Zambian Emerald we cut is mostly deep bluish green in its hue.

Emerald Tone

The tone of the emerald categorizes the gem into dark or light.

Most people mistakenly assume that they should choose emeralds of medium to very dark tone because they believe that the darker the tone, the better. But this is not necessarily true. What is just as important to the look of the emerald is its saturation.

Emerald Saturation

Saturation gives the color its intensity. The luster is determined mostly by the saturation. Saturation can range from dull to vivid. So if, for example, a medium dark stone has a boring, dull saturation, you probably won’t get too excited about it.

But if you find a light green emerald sparkling with vivid saturation, your eyes are much more likely to be drawn to it — and you may like the lighter tone, as well.

The bottom line to remember here is that the darker tonal and higher saturation grades will usually result in a higher price tag, but that doesn’t mean that you might not find an emerald breathtakingly beautiful slightly below this range.

Often customers are shocked to find out that the emerald they fall in love with is actually one with light tone but with good saturation. They might say something like, “I’ve never seen an emerald with this kind of intense green color before!”

Of course, since color is by far the most important factor when buying emeralds, it should go without saying that you need to be able to see a high quality photo of the stone before even considering purchasing it.

Our Recommendation

We strongly recommend buying emeralds only from the seller who has information about the source of the emerald, has the required know how and the techniques to ascertain the best pieces and who can provide the best deal for your money.  If you wish buy emeralds from an online source, ensure that the seller has a professional approach in just about every possible area – customer service, grading, pricing, high quality photography, packaging.

The high definition pictures videos make the viewing experience  seeing the stone in person. Another important thing to remember about emeralds is that they are rarely sold with a reliable certificate.

Considering Certificates

With emeralds (as opposed to diamonds) this isn’t a deal-breaker.  As long as you have a guarantee that the emerald is natural, all that really matters is how the stone looks to you. If the hue, tone, and saturation of an emerald speak to your sense of beauty, that is all that is relevant. Sometimes, you can come across a stone that has an investment value. This can be a tricky case if you do not has an expert’s opinion.

  • Clarity

Emeralds with better clarity fetch a higher price at market. But that’s where the comparison used to end a few years back. Today with a highly competitive market, companies have developed their own grading methods which can help standardize the emerald purchase to an extent.

We expect to see inclusions (imperfections that lower the clarity grade) in about 99% of emeralds. In fact, when you don’t see inclusions, you need to be suspicious that the emerald is not natural.

GIA Classification

The GIA classifies emeralds as “type III,” which means they are almost always included. Emeralds belong to the beryl mineral family.

The Inclusions are often called “jardin,” the French word for garden since the inclusions may look like branches or plant roots, but they are also what cause the stone to be that gorgeous green color.

So don’t worry, inclusions are a natural part of the character of emeralds. But you should also know that since emeralds are so heavily included, about 80-95% of the rough must be cut away to produce a gemstone, thus giving a smaller yield and a bigger price tag.

Mind the Inclusions

Even though you will find inclusions and fissures, you need to pay attention to what kind they are. Stay away from inclusions that look like bubbles, imperfections that look arranged in a specific order, and obviously big blotches.

Be sure that the stone’s inclusions are deep under the surface, otherwise they can create fractures when set or worn. This point is especially important because emeralds are not as strong as diamonds and will chip more easily.

And bottom line: make sure you see a magnified picture of the emerald to see its jardin before purchasing.

Emerald Treatments

Due to the highly included nature of emeralds, it has become standard practice today to treat the stones with oils to enhance clarity.

Emerald vendors generally accept the use of oil. All emeralds sold should have full disclosure of treatment.

  1. Cut

The cut of the emerald refers to its faceting, shape, width and depth. Ideally, an emerald should be cut symmetrically with uniform facets that allow for paramount color and brilliance. If cut too deeply, the light will escape on the side and the emerald will look dark.

If too shallow, the emerald will not appear brilliant since the light will be lost at the bottom of the stone. The rectangular or square step cut called “emerald cut” is thought to maximize the shape of the rough. This is the most common cut, and hence why the name “emerald cut” stuck, even when applied to other gemstones.

Besides emerald cuts, there are round and oval cuts. After these, there are pear cuts and cabochons (think of the rounded convex shape of a gem in a brooch), and much less likely are princess, brilliants, trilliants, and other fancy cuts.

  1. Carats

Bigger is better, right? Well not necessarily. Carat weight obviously helps determine the price of the emerald, and a 4 carat stone will be more expensive than a 1 carat stone, all other factors being equal.

But carat weight plays a much larger role in the pricing of diamonds than it does with emeralds. With the latter, we are primarily interested in the color of the stone, then its clarity and cut, and only finally its carat weight.

Emerald experts agree that it’s better to buy a smaller emerald with excellent color quality than a larger one with poor color quality. And beware that there will be a big price jump once you hit 1 carat since it takes, on average, the removal of five tons of dirt to find a gem-quality emerald over 1 carat.

Bottom Line

Buying an Emerald is not very technical. Emeralds are loved for their color and saturation. Since it’s mostly about the color, you must buy your emerald from a source that provides high quality images of their stones, if you wish to buy through just pictures.

Emeralds are stunning in all types of jewelry. They can be the focal point in a ring like these beauties from from Jaipur.


Emeralds are not just the stuff of the Slytherin house hourglass or Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry box — or even May’s birthstone. They are an integral part of a more colorful gemstone market and specifically the bridal market — where we are seeing emeralds as both center stones and accent sidestones for engagement rings.

Whatever your preference, learning the truth about emeralds will help you make the most informed decision on your next jewelry purchase.