Emerald is part of the Top Three in the gemstone world and is rare because the element beryl, which constitutes most of the emeralds, doesn’t stay in one place generally for a long time, which makes it hard for miners to find large emerald lodes. Emerald has been in human history and lore for the better part of five thousand years, and its value is not going away any time soon.
Processing emerald is tricky because it is not as hard as rubies or diamonds. The emerald cut technique was developed specifically to reduce the chances of crumbling and damage to the emerald as it is refined to produce what is needed. Like other gemstones, the value of emerald is evaluated using the 4 Cs.
The 4 Cs refer to colour, carat, clarity and cut. When we say colour, we refer to how pure the colour of the gemstone is, if there are any outward blemishes, and so on. The colour of a gemstone can either be just one primary colour or multiple colours depending on the inclusions within the gem in question. Carat refers to the weight or dimensions of the gemstone.
As for the clarity and the cut used on the emerald, these are still used to evaluate any specimen of emerald, but at the same time, emeralds are bound to have its imperfections or inclusions, and these are normal for this type of gemstone.
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How many types of emeralds are there?
There are several kinds of emeralds, based on their visual qualities or where they have been mined:
These are high-quality emeralds from Columbia that command high prices in the market.
May also be referred to as “green tourmalines”. These high-quality gems are mined in exclusive in Brazil.
These emeralds have a distinct look to them as a slit can be seen, much like the slit found on the eyes of felines. This is a visual effect called chatoyancy. This type of emerald is paler than other kinds of emeralds.
Trapiche is another exciting variation of emerald as it has black inclusions that generally create the effect of a 6-rayed star. Trapich emeralds are only found in the country of Columbia and not anywhere else.
Another term for trapiche emeralds. A star emerald can easily be identified by the presence of a black star from inside the jewel when you rotate it while holding it in your hand.
Synthetic emeralds entered into production in the 1930s, and now, many large corporations create various synthetic gemstones for the mass market. These corporations include well known mega brands such as Lennox, Seiko, and Kyocera.
Synthetic emeralds have the same build as natural emeralds and are generally sold alongside mined jewels in jewellery stores.
As long as the seller or store discloses that what you are buying is synthetic emeralds, there is nothing wrong with buying them as they are precisely like natural emeralds in their appearance and composition.
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Where are emeralds found?
Emeralds are mined nearly worldwide, with the majority of emerald mines found in countries like Zambia, Zimbabwe, Columbia and Brazil. These countries are consistent with producing large quantities of commercially viable emeralds annually, so they are considered the top four emerald producing countries in the world.
Small quantities of emeralds can also be found in countries with small mining operations focused partly on the discovery and mining of jewel. Countries like Pakistan, Russia, Canada, and Madagascar are part of this list of countries. Some emerald mining can also be found in Canada, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
Just recently, large quantities of commercially viable emeralds were exported by Ethiopia. Ethiopian emeralds, albeit newcomers in the game, are tagged as the most magnificent gemstone find in the last century because of the quality of the jewels.
Colombia has had the fortune of having large deposits of limestone and shale, as these have made it possible for them to mine large quantities of emerald compared to the production of other countries. The presence of emeralds in a country depends on many factors. Still, the most significant factor is the presence of granitic magma, which is said to produce beryllium, the foundation of emeralds naturally.
How much are emeralds worth?
Emeralds are graded into four categories: low or commercial, okay, fine, and extra fine.
Small or commercial-grade jewel can cost $30 to $525 per carat. Good emeralds make the jump to $525 to $1,125 per carat, while fine emeralds are $1,125 to $2900 per carat. And lastly, the most expensive of all jewels, the extra fine ones are valued at an average of $2,000 to $9,800 per carat. Take note that larger gemstones will be more expensive and will easily exceed the average pricing of the market.
The carat price of gemstones increases depending on the overall dimensions of the gemstones, or the quantity of the same gemstones within a set of jewellery. A five-carat emerald will command around $300 to $7,500 per carat for commercial grade emerald, $7,500 to $15,000 for good emerald, $15,000 to $32,000 for fine emeralds, and a whopping $32,000 to $95,000 per carat for the extra fine specimens.
Further reading: What is the most expensive birthstone?
Tips to examine an emerald
When examining an emerald, follow these quick tips:
- Examine the emerald for inclusions or formations within eh gemstones. Additions may include gas bubbles or even small crystals that have ‘grown’ within the emerald. High-quality emerald has minimal compositions.
- Check how the emerald has been cut. Gemstones are split not only to bring out their best aspects but also to protect them from daily wear and tear. Emeralds are often processed with a step-cut so they will not be easily worn down by everyday wear. Quality cutting makes jewels look incredible, from the colour, hue, and how it reflects light.
- While the size of the emerald is essential, it is not the only factor. Sometimes, a smaller emerald is more valuable because of its origin, grade, and how it was processed before reaching the market.
- Check the quality of the colour of the emerald before buying, too.