Facts About Emeralds

Emeralds are deep green!

If the color is too light, the gemstone you are looking at is not an emerald, but rather a green beryl. Unfortunately there is no standard by which the major gem labs grade between emerald and green beryl. Also, there is no law saying you must distinguish between the two, so some people sell a green beryl as an “emerald”. If the “emerald” you are looking at looks like Coke bottle glass or lighter, it is probably a green beryl.

Emeralds are never heat-treated.

Most aquamarine is heated to get rid of the natural sea foam green color to produce the blue aquamarine we are familiar with. Many other gemstones are routinely heat treated including ruby, sapphire, and tanzanite.

Emeralds are not brittle.

Poor quality gemstones, including poor quality emeralds, can be brittle because they have too many inclusions or cracks running through the gemstone. These low quality gemstones should not be purchased. As a general rule, don’t buy emeralds under $200 per carat. Moderate to high quality emeralds are suitable for all jewelry types including rings, but like any fine jewelry, you should avoid situations that would damage the stone. All gemstones, including diamonds, can crack if you hit them just right on granite countertops or other hard surfaces.

Emerald enhancements do not “glue” or hold an emerald together.

Clarity enhancements are used to minimize the appearance of inclusions in emeralds. It is possible to find composite emeralds on the market that are glued together, but they are so easy to spot you will not want to buy them. Generally, enhancements do not alter the color of the emerald. Using green colored oil is not accepted in the US or in Colombia. However, important enhancements can be removed with chemicals or ultrasonic cleaning. Your best bet is to only clean emeralds with warm, mild, soapy water so that you don’t remove any enhancement to your emerald. Many other colored gemstones should not be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner either.

Untreated emeralds are more valuable if they look the same as a comparable treated emerald.

Removing the clarity enhancement from an emerald does not make it more valuable. Most emeralds look better when they have been clarity enhanced and that’s why it is done. An untreated, low-quality emerald is not rarer nor is it more valuable.

Emeralds do not “dry out” nor do they need to be re-oiled every few years.

Some emerald enhancements (for example, polymers) are more permanent than others, but emeralds really don’t require frequent oiling. Emeralds are not treated to stabilize the stone, like you need to do with turquoise or opal. If re-oiling is ever needed it is easy and inexpensive. Polymers should not require re-oiling because they are a resin with an added hardener. However, extreme temperatures can affect an emerald’s enhancement’s stability and longevity, so you should avoid extreme temperatures.

“Oiled” has become the generic term used by many dealers in the US and Colombia for all clarity enhancements.

Without a lab report it is impossible to tell what kind of treatment has been used on an emerald. Beyond the type of treatment there are hundreds of different formulas that are used. Branding of treatments has become popular as well. Each manufacturer will claim that their treatment is superior. The type of treatment has little effect on value of an emerald, but you will want to know how much the emerald has been treated. Choose emeralds with the least degree of enhancement that you can afford, but assume that
all emeralds are enhanced. In fact, a strong degree of enhancement is considered common according to American Gemological Laboratories (AGL). Please visit AZemerald’s page on How to Interpret an AGL Prestige Gemstone Report for more information.

Nothing looks like a good quality, natural Colombian or Zambian emerald!

There is no better value than a good quality, natural Colombian or Zambian emerald. Lab grown emeralds are not inexpensive and they do not look right because you can almost always see the hydrothermal growth lines and they look too perfect. Lab grown emeralds lack the warmth of real emeralds. No other natural gemstone looks anything like an emerald. If a moderate to high quality emerald is out of your price range, there are other beautiful green gemstones to choose from, such as green tourmaline, chrome tourmaline, tsavorite garnet, and peridot. Just make sure you choose the gemstone that fits your budget and buy the highest quality stone you can afford. Choose a smaller size stone with a higher quality over a larger, lower-quality gemstone. Higher quality gemstones tend to retain value better during market fluctuations and you will enjoy them so much more over the years!

Emeralds are harder than quartz, tourmaline, and tanzanite but, are not as hard as rubies, sapphires, or diamonds.