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How to Select the Best Emerald

Emeralds, with their rich green hue, have captivated civilizations for centuries. This gemstone, a variety of the mineral beryl, is regarded as one of the “big three” coloured gemstones – alongside rubies and sapphires. Given their beauty and value, it’s essential to know how to select the best emerald colour when considering a purchase. This article will guide you through the key factors to consider.


The primary allure of an emerald is its colour. A top-quality emerald will exhibit a pure, vibrant green hue without any overtones. The three factors to consider regarding emerald colour are:

Hue: The actual colour, ranging from bluish green to pure green. While personal preference plays a role, the most prized emeralds are slightly bluish green.

Tone: Refers to the lightness or darkness of the colour. Medium to dark tones is typically the most desired.

Saturation: The intensity of the colour, from dull to vivid. High-quality emeralds have strong to vivid colour saturation without any greyness.


Emeralds are Type III gemstones, meaning they are almost always included, and it’s rare to find one that is ‘eye clean’. However, the visibility, type, and location of these inclusions can greatly affect an emerald’s value.

Garden Patterns: The inclusions in an emerald are often referred to as the ‘Jardin,’ the French word for garden. While inclusions are generally undesirable in most gemstones, the Jardin can add character to an emerald if it does not impede the stone’s transparency or brilliance.

Avoid Surface-Reaching Inclusions: Inclusions that reach the surface can be problematic as they might cause durability issues.

Cut and Shape

Emeralds can be found in a variety of shapes, including oval, round, square, and the classic emerald cut. The cut of an emerald significantly affects its brilliance and colour appearance.

Proportions: A well-proportioned cut ensures that the stone reflects light beautifully, maximizing its colour and brilliance.

Symmetry: Symmetrical facets ensure an even play of light and improve overall appearance.

Remember, the cut should also minimize visible inclusions, enhancing the emerald’s beauty.

Carat Weight

Emerald size, measured in carats, is another factor that influences its value. Larger emeralds are rare, and thus, they command higher prices per carat than smaller stones of similar quality. But it’s vital not to compromise on colour and clarity solely for size.


Most emeralds undergo treatments to improve their clarity. The most common method is oiling, where oils or resins are used to fill fractures and enhance the stone’s appearance.

Types of Oils: The type of oil or treatment matters. Cedarwood oil is traditional and accepted, while synthetic oils and resins might decrease the gemstone’s value.

Disclosure: It’s vital that the seller fully discloses any treatments. A reputable dealer will be transparent about the nature and extent of treatments applied to the gemstone.


Emeralds are mined in various regions worldwide, with Colombia, Zambia, and Brazil being the most renowned. Colombian emeralds are often highly prized for their pure green colour, but quality can vary widely within any location. Always prioritize the gemstone’s individual qualities over its geographical origin.

Setting and Style

Once you’ve chosen your emerald, consider how you’ll wear it. Since emeralds are softer and more prone to scratches than some other gemstones, they benefit from protective settings if used in rings. Bezels and halos can protect the gem, while prong settings can maximize its exposure to light.


For high-value purchases, consider getting a laboratory certification. A certificate from a reputable lab provides details about the emerald’s colour, clarity, treatments, and sometimes its origin. It adds an extra layer of assurance to your investment.


Selecting the best emeralds requires a careful consideration of several factors, from its vibrant colour to its clarity, cut, and more. While the technical details are essential, remember that personal preference plays a significant role. After all, you’re choosing a gemstone to treasure, so ensure it resonates with your aesthetic and emotional desires. Armed with knowledge and an eye for beauty, you’re well on your way to selecting an emerald that will captivate you for a lifetime.