Back to gem encyclopedia

Emerald

Emerald is the bluish green to green variety of beryl, a mineral species that includes aquamarine.

Responsive image
Colour

Highly saturated green colour defines high quality emerald.

Responsive image
Bevelled corners

Emerald cuts have concentric parallel rows of facets and bevelled corners.

Responsive image
“jardin,” or garden.

Eye visible inclusions create an internal scene referred to as “jardin,” or garden.

Responsive image
Responsive image
Six-sided

Emerald crystals are commonly six-sided.

Responsive image
Flat-top

The tops of emerald crystals are typically rather flat.

Responsive image
Colour direction

The best colour is usually perpendicular to the top of the crystal.

Responsive image
Tools

Overview

About Emerald

Emerald

Gem experts differ on the degree of green that makes one stone an emerald and another stone a less-expensive green beryl. Most gemmologists, gemmological laboratories and coloured stone dealers call a stone green beryl when its colour is “too light” for it to be classified as emerald. Even among that group, however, there’s a difference of opinion about what’s considered “too light”.

Emerald Description

Emerald History and Lore

Emerald Journey


Birthstones & Anniversaries

As the gem of spring, emerald is the perfect choice as the birthstone for the month of May. It’s also the gem of the twentieth and thirty-fifth wedding anniversaries.

2.97 Billion Years

Age of the oldest emeralds, from South Africa.


Cleopatra

Pharaoh known for her passion for emeralds.


$6,578,500

2011 sales price for Elizabeth Taylor’s emerald pendant - a record $280,000 per carat.


Facts

  • Mineral: Beryl
  • Chemistry: Be3Al2Si6O18
  • Colour: Vibrant green
  • Refractive Index: 1.577 to 1.583
  • Birefringence: 0.005 to 0.009
  • Specific Gravity: 2.72
  • Mohs Hardness: 7.5 to 8

Treatments

There are a number of processes used to alter the colour or apparent clarity, or to improve the durability of gems.

Learn More

Synthetics

Some gemstones have synthetic counterparts that have essentially the same chemical, physical and optical properties, but are grown by man in a laboratory.

Learn More

Imitations

Any gem can be imitated – sometimes by man-made materials or by natural materials chosen by man to impersonate a particular gem.

Learn More
gem love

Why We Love This Gemstone

1
Three-Phase Inclusions

Three-phase inclusions in Colombian emeralds contain tiny crystals of rock salt, liquid and a bubble of gas.

2
Hexagonal Crystals

The best emerald crystals are gorgeous flat-topped green hexagonal columns that are as beautiful as faceted stones.

3
Ancient Egypt

The first known emerald mines were in Egypt. It is believed that these mines were worked as early as 3500BC.

Quality Factors

Emerald has been the standard for green coloured stones for millennia.

Colour

quality factors

The most desirable emerald colours are bluish green to pure green, with vivid colour saturation.

Clarity

quality factors

In Emerald expect to see inclusions that dealers like to call an internal “jardin”, or garden.

Cut

quality factors

Due to the crystal shape emeralds are commonly cut as rectangular step cuts called emerald cuts.

Carat Weight

quality factors

Because its density is lower, a one-carat emerald will appear larger in size than a one-carat diamond.

Emerald Quality Factors: The Comprehensive Guide

Research

Explore sources, gemmological research and the role of gems in history.

Suite of untreated Ethiopian emeralds

A New Discovery of Emeralds from Ethiopia

Nathan Renfro, Ziyin Sun, Michael Nemeth, Wim Vertriest, Victoria Raynaud, and Vararut Weeramonkhonlert , May 8, 2017 Read more in English

GIA Field Gemmologists Visit Zambia’s Emerald Mines

GIA Staff , Oct 16, 2015 Read Article
El Pulpito, the landmark overlooking the Chivor mine

In Rainier’s Footsteps: Journey to the Chivor Emerald Mine

Robert Weldon, Jose Guillermo Ortiz, and Terri Ottaway , Aug 3, 2016 Read more in English

New Production of Brazilian Emerald from Minas Gerais

Duncan Pay , Apr 30, 2015 Read more in English