Diamond Guide (The 4Cs)
Blue Topaz Guide
Karat Gold Jewelry
Gold Filled/Gold Plated Jewelry
Gold Vermeil/Gold Wash Jewelry
Titanium Jewelry Guide
Emerald Guide: Lab Created Emerald, Natural Emerald and How to Shop for Emeralds
too scientific, emeralds
are a variety of beryl. Emeralds
7.5-8 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, below that of rubies and
(9 rating) and diamonds (10 rating).
as well as other gemstones like diamonds, rubies and sapphires, are
the 4Cs (color, clarity, cut and carat).
Emerald color quality is judged by hue (the emerald’s color), saturation (the strength or weakness of the color) and tone (the lightness or darkness of color).
The rarest and most valuable of emeralds will have strong, vivid color with as little blue-green or yellow-green elements as possible. It should be remembered, however, that the rarest color emerald (a true, deep vivid green) is not necessarily the most valuable, as clarity, cut and carat size also play their parts in determining the value and cost of emerald jewelry.
Minute differences in one gemstone’s color over another are extremely important in rating the value of a gemstone from a gemologist’s point of view; however, for our purposes (and our purpose is to buy jewelry, right?), small differences in gemstone color may not even be discernible with the naked eye.
For the average consumer, who is concerned with all the desirable elements of emerald jewelry – the stone size and color, the jewelry setting and the styling of the jewelry itself – these little differences are usually neither obvious nor of great concern.
All other values being equal (cut, clarity and carat), you could well find that a beautiful bluish-green emerald appeals and suits you better than the most valuable of vivid green emeralds. In the case of color, the best emerald color is that which suits you best.
Clarity Enhanced Emeralds & Clarity Enhancement Treatments
Emeralds are highly included gemstones, meaning that, by nature, they contain small internal flaws called inclusions. This makes emerald jewelry much more prone to cracking and breaking than, say, diamond jewelry. Emeralds are classified as a Type 3 colored gemstone by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) which means it is a gemstone that almost always has inclusions present.
Because of the inclusions inherent in emerald jewelry, the majority of emeralds undergo some type of clarity enhancement treatment. Traditionally this has been done by using an oil, usually cedar oil, to fill internal fissures in the emerald. More recently, man-made epoxies and resins have been used to enhance an emerald’s clarity. In any event, rest assured that clarity enhancement is an accepted, common practice for emeralds to undergo.
Oil enhancement treatment is not permanent; the oil will dry out over time and your emerald jewelry will probably have to be taken to your jeweler’s for a re-treatment. Both oil treatment and epoxy/resin treatment are particularly vulnerable to high temperatures, meaning your stone will need to be removed from its setting prior to any repair work that utilizes high temperatures. Likewise, emerald jewelry should not be subjected to an ultrasonic cleaner or steam cleaning, which can remove emerald luster and weaken or remove the fissure-filling material used on the emerald.
For the purposes of judging emerald (or other Type 3 gemstone such as red tourmaline) clarity, the Gemological Institute of America uses a scale that ranges from VVS to I3:
VS (Very Slightly Included) – Obvious inclusions easily seen under 10x magnification, usually visible to the naked eye.
SI1 (Slightly Included 1) – Large and numerous inclusions under 10x magnification, prominent to the naked eye.
SI2 (Slightly Included 2) – Large and numerous inclusions under 10x magnification, very prominent to the naked eye.
I1 – (Included 1) – Inclusions very obvious, to the point of having a moderate negative affect on the gemstone’s appearance or durability.
I2 – (Included 2) – Inclusions very obvious with severe negative effect on the gemstone’s appearance or durability.
I3 – (Included 3) –
Inclusions very obvious with severe
couple of things worth pointing out:
Though GIA’s grading system for diamonds is
by and large accepted as the
standardized grading system, their colored gemstone grading system
widely adopted. GIA,
the AGTA (American Gem Trade Association)
and AGL (American
Gemological Laboratories) each have their own grading system for
Emerald Jewelry Shopping TipsAssume your emerald jewelry has undergone a clarity enhancement treatment (yes, it is THAT prevalent), unless your emeralds come with a certificate indicating they are not clarity-enhanced.
Be very aware of the included nature of emeralds. While a pair of emerald earrings or an emerald brooch – both examples of jewelry that receives minimal wear and tear from routine use – can be a dandy idea, an emerald bracelet or emerald ring may be a dubious choice if the jewelry is going to be subjected to a lot of banging and bumping. Remember, that emerald isn’t as tough as a diamond and it’s naturally prone to have little cracks and fissures to begin with – it might not fare so well knocking and bumping against hard surfaces.