How Emeralds are Priced

Now let’s put this information together and talk about how emeralds are priced. There are four things to consider.

Carat
Cut
Color
Clarity

As far as carat is concerned, if you are comparing two emeralds that are exactly the same quality and one is 1 carat and the other is 5 carats, will the 5 carat stone cost five times more? No… because the 1 carat stone sells for $5,000 per carat for a total of $5,000. The 5-carat stone will probably run about $15,000 per carat for a total of $75,000. A high quality emerald in such a large size is rare and therefore, it will be very expensive. Make sure you are not comparing carat “apples to oranges”. Instead, decide what emerald size you want. Once you’ve decided on what size of an emerald you want, you can now cross carat off the list of things to be concerned about.

Next on the list is the cut. The quality of the cut probably only accounts for 10% of the value of the stone. Moreover, the vast majority of emeralds (and most colored gemstones) are commercially cut stones. This means that they are cut to maximize yield, rather than to optimally return light, like diamonds or custom American cut colored gemstones. You’ll want to make sure you are comparing commercially cut stones to other commercially cut stones. Buyers who want custom cut gemstones need to compare stones that have been custom cut.

With commercially cut stones, you do not want to ignore problems such as windowing (gemstones that are cut too shallow), scratches, or rounded facets (the edge between individual facets should be sharp). However, the market has determined that the value of cut is very low compared to color and clarity. Below is a price chart for Colombian emeralds that have American Gemological Laboratories (AGL) reports. The AGL is out of New York and is AZemerald’s preferred lab for evaluating emeralds and other colored gemstones.

Colombian Emeralds Price List

Item #Size
(Carat)
ColorToneClarityCuttingEnhancementPrice Per
Carat
10010.57VGMed-DarkModGoodMod to
Strong
1,500
10021.06VG to GoodMed-DarkModGoodFaint to Mod2,000
10031.06GoodMedMod to
Highly
GoodMod1,000
10050.64VGMedMod to
Highly
Good-
Fair
Mod to
Strong
1,500
10060.80VG to GoodMedModGoodMod2,000
10071.07VG to GoodMed-DarkModGoodFaint to Mod2,000
10091.21VG to GoodMedMod to
Highly
GoodMod1,500
10101.05VG to GoodMed-DarkMod to
Highly
GoodMod to
Strong
1,000
10110.81VG to GoodMedMod to
Highly
GoodMod to
Strong
1,500
10131.09VG to GoodMed-DarkModGoodMod2,000
10150.74GoodLight-MedLightly
to Mod
GoodFaint2,000
10170.39GoodMedLightlyGood-
Fair
Faint to Mod1,500
10190.45VG to GoodMedModGoodMod to
Strong
1,500
10200.57VG to GoodMedModGoodMod1,500
10210.45VG to GoodMedModVG-
Good
Mod1,500
Notes: VG – Very Good; Med – Medium; Mod – Moderately or Moderate

As you can see almost all of the Colombian emeralds in the table have a cutting grade of good. A few have a grade a little lower and one has a grade a little higher. These differences are not enough to significantly adjust price per carat either way. Now look at degree of enhancement. Notice that there is a correlation between clarity and degree of enhancement. In general the less inclusions (higher clarity grade) the lower the degree of enhancement. With respect to value, all emeralds are assumed to have some degree of clarity enhancement. The market determines that enhancement in the middle of the grading scale (faint to moderate, moderate, moderate to strong) has little affect on price and is, in fact, the baseline for prices. As you move to the extremes of the grading scale (i.e. none or prominent) the price can change dramatically. According to the table, all of the Colombian emeralds have a degree of enhancement in the middle ranges except for #1015. So basically the degree of enhancement has no effect on price unless the stone is not enhanced at all, in which case prices can be up to 100% more. In almost all cases, if you focus your buying on color and clarity you really don’t need to worry about enhancement. An emerald with decent clarity will not have a large degree of enhancement because there are not enough places for the enhancement to go. Below is a Colombian and Zambian Emeralds Price Chart that shows the relationship between color and clarity based on the AGL grading scale. The assumptions are that you have a 1 carat emerald with medium to medium-dark tone, good cutting, and enhancement in the middle of the range (faint to moderate, moderate, moderate to strong).  Color grades of “Excellent” or clarity grades of “Free of Inclusions” are considered theoretical for emeralds. If one were to find an emerald with such high quality, the price would be much higher. Please remember AGL uses one scale for all colored stones that encompasses the entire theoretical range. This chart is just a guide to show you how quickly prices go up as Colombian and Zambian emeralds increase in quality and is based on high retail prices. AZemerald’s prices are considerably lower.

Colombian and Zambian Emeralds Price Chart

Clarity Grades →
Color Grades

Free of InclusionsLightly IncludedModerately IncludedHeavily IncludedExcessively
Included
ExcellentN/A
$15,000+
per carat
$10,000+
per carat
$6,000+
per carat
$500+
per carat
Very GoodN/A$10,000-$15,000
per carat
$6,000-$10,000
per carat
$3,000-$6,000
per carat
$200-$500
per carat
GoodN/A$2,500-$5,000
per carat
$1,500-$2,500
per carat
$800-$1,000
per carat
$100-$200
per carat
FairN/A$500-$1,000
per carat
$200-$500
per carat
under $200
per carat
$50-$100
per carat
PoorN/A
$200-$500
per carat
under $200
per carat
under $100
per carat
under $50
per carat
Notes: Free of inclusions is considered theoretical for emeralds. These prices are considered high retail.