How Much Do Emeralds Cost (& How Are They Valued)

Beautiful green emeralds have always been a captivating gem. The Egyptians and Cleopatra would agree. But the price of an Emerald has a wide range. Knowing what to expect and how to judge quality takes work. Understanding their true value and how they are valued is the name of the game in ensuring the price is right. 

Emeralds can cost as little as $1 per carat in extreme situations in which they are synthetic. But high-quality cuts can go upwards of $100.000 per carat when untreated. True natural Emeralds are rarer than Diamonds and date back to 330 BC. The range usually won’t fall below $200 per carat, even if it is synthetically made. 

Getting ripped off is much easier these days because synthetic Emeralds and gems imitate the natural pens so well. Understanding how emeralds are valued can be the difference maker in saving thousands of dollars. Let’s dive deeply into where they come from and how their color, clarity, cut, and weight significantly impact their price. 

Everything You Need to Know about Emeralds

To understand why certain Emeralds cost a pretty penny compared to others, we need to go back and see where they come from. Its bold green color and original Emerald cut have long been a symbol of flashy and expensive taste in the fashion and jewelry industry. But what makes them so special?

Where Do Emeralds Usually Come From?

Natural Emeralds come from a select few places worldwide, including Zimbabwe, Colombia, Zambia, Ethiopia, and Brazil. This is because they are mined in Igneous metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. Because these rocks are only present in a few locations, natural Emeralds are incredibly rare. 

Emerald mainly has traces from South America, Africa, and Asia. That’s why today, there are a few spaces in Australia where the gem is still currently mined. Despite Australia having three main commercial operations, Colombia still produces the most exports of Emeralds in terms of quantity and quality.  

However, other countries such as Pakistan, Russia, and many more also mine for this gem. The difference between the countries is the quality of gems which you can see in their color and opaqueness. A Zambia Emerald gives off a more blueish color, whereas one from Colombia may have slighter grays in them. 

How Do Emeralds Get Their Shape? 

Uncut Emeralds are shaped like a hexagon prism. This is a six-sided long hexagon. When the stone is in its natural growth state, experts would caution that nothing is ever formed identical to others. You may see more random patterns. Since they are long crystals, they are then formed or cut into more rectangular prisms that give them their distinct look. 

When it comes to jewelry making, Emerald has their own cut. However, the gem itself can be formed into different cuts for rings and jewelry such as a princess, cushion, pear, and so on. This is specifically true with synthetic Emeralds that are made especially for jewelry. 

Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat Weight 

The color, clarity, cut, and carat weight of an Emerald are the four C’s used to measure value. We briefly mentioned that an Emerald may have slight variations in color and clarity depending on where the Emerald is mined or if it is synthetically made. These factors can increase and decrease the value of this particular gem. 

Here are some quick definitions. 

  • Color pertains to whether the gem is a darker green, has blues, grays, and so on. 
  • Clarity refers to the number of inclusions (materials inside the gem) and blemishes on the surface. In other words, how pure is the gemstone itself? 
  • Cut is typically the shape that the gem is polished into for a piece of jewelry. 
  • Carat weight is the measurement weight of the gem itself. The heavier it is, the more expensive it is. 

The Four C’s and Emeralds 

Where it concerns the value of an emerald, all of these factors play an important role. Emeralds have a slightly limited color scale, where blueish-green Emeralds that are highly saturated hold the most value. Since Emeralds are also known to be a Type III jewel, they are almost always included. This means the clarity is typically lower. When there are inclusions on the inside the gem can double or triple in because it is rare to find this. 

The cut is the most complicated part because the idea is to show the best color without losing too much of its carat weight. A traditional Emerald cut is just one avenue, as there are more than a dozen ways to shape and facet the gem. Because carat weight is the final price, there is a give and take between the ideal cut and carat weight. It’s almost better to keep the carat weight high and compromise on the cut. 

Treatment and Price

Nearly all Emeralds that are mined are treated. Only 2% of natural Emeralds go untreated. This means that they’re left in their exact original state when they were mined. However, it’s important to note that an untreated Emerald does not mean that it is 100% clear. A treated vs. untreated Emerald can have the same clarity in many cases. So what is the difference?

What Does It Mean to Be Treated?

When an Emerald is treated, it means that it has had clarity enhancements through a process such as oiling. Oil or resin acts to fill in any areas that may have been fractured or cause clarity issues to the gem. The issue with a treatment such as oiling is that it is not a permanent fix and fades over time. 

Most emeralds have to be treated to look appealing to the buyer. This is why many of the cuts are almost always treated because of the inclusions. An uncut and untreated Emerald with few inclusions can go for $100,000 a carat. 

For instance, in the rarest of instances, The Rockafeller Emerald is an 18-carat untreated Emerald with perfect clarity. This gem is valued at $5.5 million USD. 

What are emeralds worth? 

Natural Emeralds are worth a lot of money as they are one of the Big Four Gems (Ruby, Diamond, Emerald, and Sapphire). However, synthetic Emeralds have made the gem a lot more affordable to the public. Even high-quality laboratory-made Emeralds can go for $300 per carat. Something interesting is that if the Emerald is cut poorly, its value can drop significantly. 

A poorly cut gem can lose much of its color. In worst-case scenarios, the gem looks greyer than it does green. It also will have the lowest clarity or be too opaque with many inclusions. Raw emerald rough is valued much lower than the parts of the emerald that are faceted for jewelry. 

Different Grades

  • Natural AAAA – Highest Grade

These are the top 10% of gemstones regarding quality. They have rich color, small inclusions, and beautiful brilliance. You’ll find them being sold on 5th Avenue or Rodeo Drive.

  • Natural AAA – Second Highest Grade

These are the top 20%-30% of gemstones regarding quality. They are mostly green and have moderate inclusions. Mostly sold out well-known jewelry stores. .

  • Natural AA – Third Highest Grade

These are the top 50%-75% of gemstones regarding quality. They are deep green and opaque with many inclusions. Mostly sold out lower-end mall jewelers. 

Are Synthetic Emeralds Valuable? 

Synthetic Emeralds have much less value than their natural versions. Synthetic Emeralds are made in a lab as opposed to mined naturally. The interesting reason why they look very similar to a natural Emerald is that they have the same properties as a natural stone. How they were derived is the difference.  

In other words, a synthetic emerald is a real emerald but not a natural emerald. 

Compared to other synthetic gems, Emeralds retain some of the highest values. While the range is still vast, a natural $20,000 Emerald can cost $100 if made in a lab while looking nearly identical to each other.

Unpolished versus Polished Emeralds

Polished Emeralds will have a glossy and reflective surface appearance. In contrast, an unpolished gem will be left as it was after being cut. Polishing a gemstone refers to the process of putting on a shiny finishing coat after a gemstone has been cut and treated for any blemishes. 

Since it falls under the category of being treated, it typically adds significant value to the gemstone, except for in cases of natural Emeralds that are perfect in clarity. When an uncut raw and unpolished gem is on the market, it falls under two extremes. Extremely expensive or low-value. 

What Is the Difference Between Emeralds and Green Beryl? 

Green Beryl and Emeralds have many differences in color, inclusions, trace elements, etc. Emerald is, technically speaking, a variety of Beryl, but when referring specifically to green beryl, they differ. The value of Green Beryl is incredibly low. Here are the differences.

  1. Green Beryl is a light green compared to an Emerald greenish-blue. 
  1. Green Beryls have fewer inclusions, making them more susceptible to breakage. 
  1. Emeralds have chromium or vanadium, which produces a green color. Green Beryl has traces of iron. 
  1. Emeralds are much rarer than Green Beryl. They are mined in fewer and different areas of the world. 

Will Blemishes Hurt the Value of my Emerald?

Blemishes do hurt the value of Emeralds and gems in general. This is mainly because an Emerald with many blemishes or surface issues will lose quality in clarity and transparency. This is why many raw and uncut gems need to be polished and cut properly so that the value of the Emerald can come to life. 

Any damages that become permanent to the emeralds that can’t be polished or buffed out will decrease in value. To get a proper evaluation, you will need to bring it to a pawn shop or a jeweler to understand the effects of the damage. 

Will an Emerald Cost More Than a Diamond or Other Rare Stone? 

Of the Big Four Gemstones, emeralds are among the rarest and cost more. In fact, emeralds are 20 times rarer than a diamond. This is surprising for many, given the market for diamonds. But to shock the jewelry world, even more, a ruby is said to be even rarer than an emerald today. 

The ruby has recorded record prices of $1,000,000 per carat. This contrasts with a sapphire that falls on the bottom of the scale. Sapphires range from $450 to $1200, not too far off the average price for an emerald from a quality jewelry store. 

How Can I Find Out the Value of My Emerald? 

You can take your emerald to a jeweler or a pawn shop to find the value of your emerald. While this guide has a lot of information, nothing is more accurate than taking your emerald to a professional. They can examine the exact carat, clarity, cut, and color in-line with the above information. 

It’s always worth getting a second or even, in some cases, a third opinion. Even the human eye can make mistakes, and getting the most value for your emerald is the priority. 

Emeralds Are Everyone’s Best Friend

Emeralds are remarkable. They are rare and high in value. Because they only come in natural from selective parts of the world, they are worth quite a bit of money. Even in some cases in which they are synthetic, they hold quite a bit of value.

 It’s important to examine whether it is polished and oiled or is among the 2% of untouched emeralds, given that raw emeralds with perfect clarity are rare, it’s not common to come in contact with one. That doesn’t mean your emerald, however, doesn’t hold value. Taking it to a professional to get a proper valuation may surprise you in how much it truly is worth!