How to buy the best emerald for your money

Emeralds are a stunning variety of the mineral beryl. With their vibrant green color and their everlasting class and beauty, they are a logical addition to any jewelry collection. When on the hunt for your perfect piece of emerald jewelry there are several things to be aware of. One of the first things to consider are the 4 basic C’s of gemstone purchasing. These are color, cut, carat, and clarity. It is always good to be on the lookout for imitation emeralds and to know how to properly care for your stone. In this emerald shopping guide we will go in depth on these various aspects and list the top tips to be aware of when purchasing your perfect piece of emerald jewelry. First let’s discuss a little more about emeralds.

What is an emerald?emerald gemstone

An emerald is a variation of the stone Beryl. Beryl can come in a variety of colors but in its purest form is colorless. In order for beryl to be considered an emerald it must have a rich green color. This can range from green with some slight yellow or blue tones but the dominant color must be green. If the beryl lies in the blueish green realm it is called aquamarine (read our article, aquamarine buying guide: All you need to know). If it is tending towards yellow it is called heliodor. Beryl that has a rich predominately green color is quite rare and hard to find which is why the cost of an emerald is greater than many other gemstones.

How are emeralds made?

Emeralds are formed deep in the earth inside mineral rich rocks such as granite. An emerald is formed in the cracks and crevices of these rocks. As the rocks heat up, certain minerals seep out and into the crevices and cracks creating a perfect place for gemstones to form and grow.

What gives emerald it beautiful green color is the presence of chromium (also, sometimes vanadium). Emeralds are not incredibly common and are only found a several places around the world. Columbia and Brazil in South America produce some very prized emeralds as does Zambia in Africa.

Now some tips for buying emerald jewelry

Tip One: What to look for in Color

Color is one of the most important things to take into consideration when buying an emerald. Emerald is known for its vibrant green color. If that ideal green color is not present in the emerald, it is, in fact, not considered an emerald. For this reason color is incredibly important.

Loose cut green emerald gemstone

When looking at the color of a gemstone there are three main things we must take into consideration; saturation, tone and hue. Hue is the actual color of the gemstone, green in the case of emerald. Saturation will refer to the amount of color present in a certain gem. A clear gemstone will have very little saturation while a very vibrant gemstone will have a high saturation. The tone refers to the lightness or darkness of a stone. Not to be confused with saturation which refers more to the opacity of the stone than the presence of color; tone will give us an idea of how light or dark the color present is in the stone. An ideal emerald will have a medium to light tone with high saturation and a bright green hue.

Green Emerald

The ideal emerald has a vibrant green color that is slightly transparent. The green should be evenly distributed across the stone without any major color zoning. An emerald with color zoning would appear as a strip or section of the stone that has a different color than the majority of the stone. For example a vibrant green emerald with one strip of blue would be an emerald with color zoning. This is not to be confused with pleochroism. Pleochroism in emerald is the appearance of different colors from different angles. This is also less than ideal in an emerald but may however be incredibly valued in other stones.

Tip Two: What to look for in Clarityemerald gemstone clarity

Clarity refers to the number of inclusions visible when observing the stone. An inclusion is similar to a blemish inside the stone. With emeralds, these visible inclusions are incredibly common. Many jewelers and traders have come to accept these mild inclusions and begun to treat their emeralds with oils or polymers on the surface of the stone to diminish the appearance of these inclusions. In some instances the inclusions will be so vast that the stone will undergo heat treatment to try and minimize some of the visible inclusions. This is done when an inclusion, fissure, or crack reaches all the way to the surface of the stone and does not remain on the inside. Finding an emerald that is pure in its natural state with no visible inclusions is incredibly rare and would in turn be quite expensive. These common inclusions are usually visible to the naked eye which is something to keep in mind when searching for your perfect piece of emerald jewelry.

Tip Three: How many carat’s?

The carat is a unit of measuring the weight and corresponding size of your stone. As with most gemstones the size of the stone directly correlates with the cost. The larger the emerald the greater the cost. There are many private collectors and museums who own emeralds that weigh hundreds of carats. These are incredibly large and probably not suited for everyday wear or use. Emeralds can be found in almost any size however from a small half carat stone that would be ideal for stud earrings to larger 10 carat stones that are ideal for pendants. The best thing to do when deciding on the carat number of your emerald is to start be determining your price range. This will give you a good idea of what size stone to look for.

Tip Four: What cut is for me?

There are a great number of cuts that suit an emerald. One of the most traditional cuts for an emerald is an ‘Emerald Cut’. This is a rectangular cut with rounded corners and a flat top. This cut works to increase the visible size and beauty of the emerald and is a very common and beloved cut. While this cut may be incredibly ideal for an emerald, another very favored cut is a round cut. This is an ideal cut for rings and especially engagement rings because it works to display the shine and brilliance of the emerald and is also incredibly elegant when paired with diamonds.

Princess cut: A perfectly square cut that comes to a slight, flat rise in the middle.

Round cut: This is a perfectly round cut with a slight rise in the middle.Different shape emerald gemstone

Pear cut: This cut is rounded on the bottom and comes to a point at the tip.

Marquise cut: A cut similar to the pear cut, but with both ends coming to a point.

Square Cut: An ideal cut for an emerald, this is a flat topped square cut.

Antique Cushion Cut: A square cut with rounded edges and a rounded top.

Tip Five: What type of Jewelry?

Emeralds have been used for over 5,000 years in jewelry. A prized and beloved stone, it was seen as a symbol of wealth and status, held only by those who were wealthy and noble enough to own a piece of this exquisite gem. From tiaras to earrings, emeralds are a sought after addition to any jewelry collection. In recent times emeralds have made their way into a very beloved sector of jewelry, the engagement ring family. Emeralds are swiftly becoming a very desirable alternative to the tradition diamond engagement ring.

Emerald engagement ringGreen Emerald engagement ring

Perhaps because of its vibrant green color or its amazing pairing with diamonds, emeralds are a beautiful and sought after stone for many engagement rings. While the rarity and desirability of an emerald may make it an expensive choice, it is a choice that will hold its value and beauty through the ages. There are many different ways to utilize an emerald in an engagement ring. One beautiful option is a large stone surrounded by a ring of diamonds, called a halo. Another idea is one central stone flanked by two smaller stones. These can be either diamonds or more emeralds depending on your desired look and cost. The vibrant green color of the emerald pairs well with gold, white gold, silver and often times rose gold. This choice is completely dependent on the buyers’ preference. For more information read this article, how to choose the right metal for your engagement ring.  Long since a symbol of hope and thought to preserve love, the emerald is a natural choice for an engagement ring.

Emerald gemstone Jewelry

How to buy emerald jewelryThe world of emerald jewelry does not stop at the engagement ring. There are endless possibilities when it comes to emeralds and the choice is made by the buyer alone. From large emerald pendants or brooches to small stud earrings, the emerald will enhance beauty in any wearer. Emeralds are often times paired with diamonds, yellow sapphires or other colored gemstones. The emerald is also a common purchase for people born in May as it is this month’s birthstone.

Tip Six: Be aware of imitation emeralds

It is always important to be cautious of investing in an imitation emerald. Some will try to pass colored glass or heat treated and colored quarts off as emerald. The glass and quartz pieces are worth quite a bit less money. To be sure your emerald is authentic, you can always consult a jeweler or gemologist who can give you an accurate reading on the validity of your stone.

Synthetic emerald

You may be wondering ‘what is a lab-created emerald?’ Well a lab created emerald, or synthetic emerald is an emerald that has been created in a lab using a very laborious process and a great deal of time. While a synthetic emerald is not cheap, it is far less expensive than a natural emerald. It is important, when shopping, to be aware of the differences between synthetic emeralds and natural emeralds. The main difference is in the varying presence of inclusions. Synthetic emeralds are not considered imitations and can be a great option when searching for an emerald on a budget.

Tip Seven: Know how to care for your emerald

To clean your stone there is an easy process that is very effective. You will need a small brush, an ultra-soft toothbrush will do the trick, and a very mild soap such as a baby soap. Take warm purified water and simply use the soap and brush to gently scrub your stone and the surrounding setting. When your stone is sufficiently clean you can use a soft dry cloth to dry your stone off. Don’t let the emerald sit with water on it for too long as this can damage the stone and setting. Thankfully, emerald is a rather hard stone and will not be damaged by the gentle scrubbing needed to clean it. It is important, however, to protect your stone from harsh chemicals. This means removing your emerald jewelry before applying makeup, or cleaning the house. When storing your emerald, it is a good idea to store it alone or in its own protective box or bag. This will not only protect your emerald from other harder stones that could get shuffled around but it will protect your softer stones from being damaged by the emerald.

Emerald symbology

The emerald is thought to be a stone that preserves love and passion in relationships. It is also a symbol of hope and the future. Many people associate the emerald with the fresh greens of spring time which fits well with its symbol as May’s birthstone. Some people believe that when you look deep into your emerald you can almost see a garden blooming in its depths. This is actually the observers seeing small inclusions in the stone, but it is an appealing feature none the less. One who wears emeralds can hope to feel its powers of tranquility and peace, renewal and growth.

Where to buy emeralds

Shopping for emeralds can be a little overwhelming due to the amount of options a buyer is faced with. It is important to do your research and have a good idea of what you are looking for and your price range before starting the buying process. There are many ways and places to purchase emeralds and these are discussed below.


Searching for an emerald online is a great way to gauge an idea of the cost and style emerald jewelry you are drawn to. It is a great way to guarantee you get a great deal and the exact piece you are looking for. While it is possible to buy from verified jewelers such as Zales or Jared, there are endless other websites that sell emeralds such as eBay and etsy. These sites, while they will have emeralds that are less expensive, may not come with the guarantee of buying from a certified jeweler. Many of these websites make finding your perfect emerald very easy with places to enter the price range, cut, and color of setting you are most drawn to.

In person

Shopping in person will give you the opportunity to try on many different styles and cuts of emeralds. It will give you the freedom to observe your emerald in the light and on your person rather than imagining how it will look based on a picture. It will also give you the opportunity to talk with a jeweler who is educated in various gemstones and settings and can be a great help when searching for your perfect stone. The best thing to do on your search for the perfect emerald is do a little of both types of shopping. Browsing online will help you determine the style to be most drawn to and then shopping in person will give you a chance to try on various types of jewelry and determine the right size for you.

Whether you are searching for the perfect engagement ring or an elegant addition to your jewelry collection, the emerald will continue to shine in its radiance and beauty through the ages, never losing its value and class, always drawing attention to the wearer. When on the hunt be sure to form an idea of what your desires and needs are with regards to your emerald piece and the power of the emerald will do the rest.

Emerald gemstone infografic 

Emerald gemstone infografic