Emeralds: Your Guide to Buying the Green Gemstone

Emeralds are gorgeous green gemstones that have been popular in everything from rings to tiaras for centuries.

These gems are the green variety of the mineral beryl and have a hardness toward the higher end of the Mohs scale. However, despite this high Mohs rating, they are often considered brittle because of numerous natural flaws.

If you’re looking to purchase an emerald, here are some things you need to know before buying:

Emerald Coloring

Most emeralds are green in color with faint bluish or yellowish hues.

But, because emeralds are natural stones, there are two things you should look at when evaluating your choice in emerald: the intensity and darkness of its color.

Intensity refers to how saturated the emerald’s color is. Some emeralds are more dull in color, while others show a more intense, vivid green hue. Darkness is used to describe the tone of the color you see in the emerald. This can vary from a light to a very dark green, depending on the stone.

When shopping for an emerald, look at both the intensity and darkness of its color.

Darkness is largely a matter of personal taste, and it’s important to remember that a darker emerald does not always mean a more expensive emerald. 

Intensity, on the other hand, is considered more important when selecting an emerald and an emerald with a higher color intensity is likely to be more expensive.


Clarity refers to the number, size, and visibility of flaws found in an emerald. These flaws, called inclusions, are naturally occurring and happened when the stone was formed.

Expect to find inclusions in any emerald you purchase, with some visible. In fact, inclusions are often one of the biggest signs that the emerald you’re buying is real; a fake or lab-created emerald is far more likely to have no inclusions.

To evaluate an emerald for clarity, look at it with your naked eye and see if it looks “clean.”

Inclusions should not be so large that they detract from the stone’s appearance. Too many large inclusions can compromise the stone’s structure, making it more likely to break.

Emeralds with inclusions that are too close to the surface also should be avoided, especially if these flaws are long lines and cracks. These inclusions can make the stone more vulnerable to damage and breakage.

For the most part, the fewer inclusions an emerald has, and the less visible those inclusions are, the more valuable the stone is. When choosing an emerald, choose one with inclusions that are  invisible or barely visible to the naked eye. Avoid stones with lots of very visible inclusions, as they’re more likely to break over time.

Carat Weight

Like with diamonds, emeralds are measured in carats. One carat is equal to 200 milligrams in weight, or 0.2 grams.

The bigger an emerald – or the higher its carat weight – the more expensive the stone is.

Bigger emeralds are much harder to find, especially emeralds that are high-quality (having higher color intensity and fewer visible inclusions), than other types of stones.


How your emerald is mounted in your piece of jewelry determines how exposed its surface is to hits and bumps that can be damaging.

To better protect an emerald, especially one that may be brittle, it’s recommended you choose a bezel setting or V-prong setting.

Bezel settings hold your emerald by encircling it in a metal band, either fully or partially. This protects the sides of the stone from damage and prevents them from becoming loose.

A V-prong setting is best suited to stones with angular cuts, such as a classic emerald cut. The prongs are shaped in the form of the letter “V” to help grasp the stone firmly at its corners and keep it stable.


Many modern emeralds are treated to help enhance their appearance. Any internal fissures that may reach the surface of the stone are filled with oils and resins in an attempt to make the flaws less visible.

While this is common, be aware that you should not put any treated emeralds in ultrasonic cleaners. The vibrations can destroy the fillers and ruin the emerald. 

Instead, carefully clean your stone with a soft, damp cloth.

Some emeralds may be dyed to enhance their color, but these stones are less valuable.

Imitation & Synthetic Emeralds

Emeralds can be quite expensive, and sometimes people create imitation or synthetic emeralds to offer less expensive stones that look similar.

Synthetic emeralds, also known as created emeralds, are lab-created and have the same chemical composition and physical properties as natural emeralds. These are great options for those looking for the same look and feel as natural emeralds, but who don’t have the budget to purchase one.

Imitation emeralds, however, are stones made of another material that makes them look like real emeralds. These stones are considered fake and should be avoided by anyone looking for a “real” emerald.

Emerald Jewelry in Frederick, MD

Are you looking to purchase emerald jewelry for yourself or someone else? At Gold Thumb Jewelry, we offer both custom jewelry design featuring emeralds and ready-to-purchase emerald jewelry. Come check out our selection today!

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