Quality & Grading Standards for Emeralds: an unattainable goal
How much is an emerald worth?
Price for emeralds is hard to tell because there is no universal or standard table for grading the quality of emeralds. Most grading is done based upon these four facts:
- Carat weight or size of the gemstone
- Color: hue, brilliance, tone and saturation
- Clarity: visibility of inclusions and flaws
- Cut: how well the stone is cut
A fine emerald can be more expensive than a high quality diamond of the same carat weight. Emeralds are relatively hard stones — 7.5 to 8.0 on the Mohs scale — but the presence of natural internal cracks and many inclusions can affect their solid structure.
Color: Color is the single most important factor when evaluating emeralds. The more attractive the color, the higher the value. Bright and intense colors are valued over those that are dark or too light. Colors that are dulled by tones of brown are less desirable.
Colombian emeralds are among the world's most beautiful, with vibrant green color often kissed with a touch of blue. Almost all rough natural Colombian emeralds have two tones — yellow and blue — and the tonality of each already cut emerald depends upon its natural form as found in the mine. If the cutting angle can be focused to catch the combination of both tones (yellow and blue), the stone will be a beautiful green hue color. If not, then the emerald will be more yellow or more bluish depending on the angle of cut. Bluish emeralds are more desirable and more valuable. See photos below.
You will see many different terms describing color and quality on many different websites such as: AAA quality; signature quality; top green; rich grass green; green-blue; blue-green; greenish blue; bluish green; etc. Personal preferences are more important. See how the gem will look mounted or on the mounting already done (ring, pendant, earrings, etc.) and notice how it catches the light at different angles. Think about how you feel about the color. Do you prefer dark green, medium green or light green?
Clarity: Many gems have tendencies to be more included than other varieties. For example, emeralds are known to be far more included than sapphires. The clarity of gems is determined by judging the amount and location of inclusions and flaws seen. Basically, the higher the clarity grade, the higher the value of the gem. Most gems are treated to enhance their appearance. Even though treatments are common and acceptable, they should be disclosed to the buyer.
Most emeralds contain tiny natural features called inclusions. which are small particles of minerals (black carbon spots), gas, liquids, and other crystals that emeralds take on during the crystallization process.
These flaws, in my very personal opinion, are imperfections of that same crystallization process, are mostly naked to the visible eye, and are most easily seen under magnification like a 10x loupe. They are also called “Jardin.” or “gardens” because they look like branches and plant roots. They are like fingerprints or birthmarks unique in every single individual gemstone presented with its own internal “garden” If the inclusions and flaws don’t interfere with the brilliance, sparkle and fire of a gem, then they don’t affect the value of the stone that dramatically. Remember it is normal for you to see tiny flaws and inclusions in an emerald because it is a natural component of this gem.
Cut and Polish: Unlike diamonds, emeralds possess variable optical properties and are not cut to a uniform ideal. A well-cut emerald exhibit even color, a minimal number of inclusions, good brilliance and shows the majority of carat weight when viewed from the top. A well-cut emerald should also exhibit good symmetry and polish condition. Facets should be aligned straight in relation to the gem’s girdle. Polish condition should be good with no visible surface pits and polishing lines.
Cut and Polish: in rough emeralds, a hard decision to make, only for experts!!!
How is an emerald valued?
The value for emeralds depends upon who the seller is and who the buyer is. Reputable companies have to pay high amounts of money for sophisticated advertising campaigns, luxurious location rents, professional salespeople’s payroll and other expenses, such as costs associated with intermediaries and international emerald traders, because they are not going directly to the source like Emeralds & Jewelry Corp. is. Of course, the business owners want all of their invested money returned, plus a good profit. Therefore, it’s normal for their prices to be as high as four times or more compared to our prices for the same identical gem.
Emeralds are unique among gems because even cloudy ones can be exceptionally valuable.
Normally the very finest emeralds would be in the range from USD $10,000 to USD $30,000 per carat. Most emeralds present in the commercial jewelry market today would be in the price area of USD $500 To USD $3,000 per carat.