A guide to buying emerald jewelry and stones
Over the centuries, emeralds have become one of the most celebrated stones in the western world. We’ve read about it in various fairy tales, legends and myths. In many museums, we can see emeralds encrusted in crowns and sword hilts. Its rich, green color is often considered synonymous with beauty and luxury.
Unfortunately, finding and acquiring a high-quality emerald can sometimes be tricky because many stones marketed as emeralds aren’t true emeralds. Many first-time emerald shoppers need to be very careful. But don’t give up. This handy guide will share key tips and information to help you find the right emerald at the right price.
Color and Hue
The prices of emeralds can vary greatly depending on its color and secondary hues. Although the primary color of most emeralds is green, intensity and tone play an important role on how that green looks.
When it comes to color, an emerald with a higher intensity of color reflects light better and allows its color to shine more. On the other hand, an emerald with a low intensity will look comparably dull. The tone refers to how light or dark the emerald’s green color will appear.
Most emeralds aren’t pure green either. They may either have secondary blue or yellow hues. Blue hues cast warmer and richer tones to an emerald. As such, these emeralds tend to be priced higher than ones with more pronounced yellow hues. Regardless of what secondary hue an emerald has, the stronger and purer the green color is, the higher the quality of the emerald.
According to the Gemological Institute of America, the emerald is considered to a “Type III” gemstone. This means that most emeralds have naturally occurring flaws on them, which are called inclusions. While these inclusions are common, the nature of these inclusions can have a big impact on an emerald’s quality and value.
When buying an emerald, it’s important to look at where its inclusions are placed. So, remember to bring along a loupe (a small magnifying glass used by many jewelers and buyers of precious stones).
Inclusions that are near the surface of the emerald are more prone to eventual damage, especially chipping. On the other hand, emeralds with inclusions that are too deep can eventually break the stone. Large inclusions can also make emeralds look cloudy or dirty.
For the best value, look for emeralds with high clarity, which means a stone that has very minimal, almost-invisible inclusions.
Another factor to be considered when buying and emerald is carat weight. It is easier to judge the quality of the stone when the emerald’s size is huge. Yes, bigger is better when it comes to emeralds, but larger emerald stones are extremely difficult to find – which explains why the price for larger emeralds are considerably higher.
Although cuts may vary depending on your taste, taking the time to consider a specific cut can prove helpful to your budget.
The classic emerald cut used for diamonds and other precious stones allows jewelers to maximize the rough crystal, wielding you a bigger stone with minimal waste. The classic emerald cut is typically rectangular, though sometimes square, with beveled corners and a few step-cut facets.
Emerald jewelry eventually requires some type of setting that complements and accentuates the beauty of the emerald. But in addition to framing and highlighting the emerald, the setting also serves the secondary purpose of supporting the emerald. Since emerald stones have naturally-occurring inclusions, it’s important that its setting provides a reliably secure hold on the stone.
A bezel setting is a great example of security because the whole stone would be surrounded by the metal band. Another good example is a V-prong setting, where the emerald is securely held in place by v-shaped prongs on all sides.
Fake Emeralds vs. Lab-created Emeralds
Because the emerald has become one of the most popular choice among gemstone buyers, the market has seen more imitation emeralds hitting the market. These fake emeralds are typically created from other less expensive green stones (usually sapphires), which are made to look like emeralds. So, buyer beware. If you’re going to invest big money in an emerald, make sure that you’re buying a certified emerald from a reliable seller.
But if you’re on a tight budget but would still like to get an emerald, you might want to consider buying a lab-created one. Lab-created emeralds have the same properties of a natural emerald, minus the inclusions. Because they aren’t naturally occurring, they are also considerably more affordable.
Using treatments on an emerald stone is common practice because of the inclusions present on it. Having your stones treated may ensure its longevity and higher tolerance to damage. Traditional treatments use oil to fill in inclusions, but you may have to retreat your stone every few months. A more modern and sturdy treatment uses resin to fill in the inclusions. Make sure to ask for a stone with clear treatment so you can see its natural color.