The 4 C's of Emeralds

by Hannah Will August 13, 2016


You truly cannot find a more beautiful gemstone than an emerald! Their incredibly vibrant green coloring is absolutely breathtaking and majestic. Since ancient times, these high quality gemstones have been greatly valued for their ability to bring luck and happiness to all in their presence. In present day, they continue to be one of the most sought after natural gemstones.

Throughout history, emeralds have been known to bring good luck and healing powers to all in their presence, and the green coloring of the gemstone also holds a special place in some cultures. For example, green is the holy color of Islam, and it is also regarded as the most natural color that exists on earth by the Catholic church. As you can tell, emerald gemstones are not only beautiful and high quality, they are also full of history and meaning.

If you want to learn how to buy emerald jewelry, this post is for you. It's important to know what to look for when buying emerald jewelry to ensure that you're getting a top quality gemstone. At top quality, an emerald gemstone can be worth even more than a diamond at the same weight. This is why it is important to know the 4 C’s of emerald gemstones. Like diamonds, the 4 C’s of emerald gemstones help the buyer to evaluate the quality and value of the gemstone. While the 4 C’s are the same as diamonds, Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat Weight, the order of importance is different for emeralds. With diamonds, buyers are most concerned about the clarity of the stone, while with emeralds, the color is the major quality indicator. Now, let’s get started with defining the 4 C’s of emeralds:


As stated above, color is the most important thing to consider when observing emeralds. The color of emeralds are what give them their incredible beauty, so pay close attention to make sure you’re getting the highest quality gemstone. Typically, the darker the green, the more valuable the emerald. You do, however, need to be careful when thinking this way. Just because an emerald is dark doesn’t mean it is extremely valuable. The emerald must be dark while still being translucent. If you find a dark and opaque emerald stone, it is probably of lesser value than a dark and translucent emerald stone. If you see an emerald that’s a beautiful deep green shade that shines brilliantly, you’ve surely found yourself a high quality stone. When asking yourself what to look for when buying emerald jewelry, the first thing to come to mind should be the color of the gemstone. 


Many precious stones have inclusions or spots within the stone, but emeralds are actually one of the most included stones on today’s market. Inclusions in emeralds are often referred to as jardin, which is French for ‘gardens’ (because of the green color of course). These inclusions are quite common and even found within high quality emeralds, therefore they have been accepted by the commercial jewelry industry. When cutting emeralds from rough stones, a high percentage of emerald rough must be cut away in order to create the sparkling faceted gemstone in order to avoid excessive amounts of inclusions. This procedure causes emeralds to be fairly expensive because of the high percentage of wasted stone to produce one faceted jewel. Still, It is very rare for an emerald to be free of any inclusions, and therefore it is expected that emeralds have visible inclusions that can be seen with the unaided eye.


The cut of the emerald refers to the faceting, shape, width, and depth of the stone. To provide maximum color and light refractivity, the emerald should be symmetrical and have a large flat table facet (the top facet). If these factors vary too much, the emerald will begin to lose it’s value. If the cut is even the slightest bit too shallow, a lot of the emerald’s brilliance will be lost at the bottom of the stone. If the cut is too deep, however, the light will escape from the sides and the emerald will appear dark. It’s very important to pay attention to the quality of the cut so you’ll be able to see the brilliant gleam of the gemstone. When talking about cut, it cannot be ignored that the emerald itself has it’s own step cut called the Emerald Cut. This cut is the ideal cut for most emeralds as it includes a large table facet creating a gorgeous window into the gemstone’s deep color. While cut is often the most overlooked factor by most jewelry buyers, ensuring your emerald is cut as close to ideal as possible will guarantee the emerald to be just that much more beautiful.

Carat weight:

Out of all the C’s, the carat weight is the least important factor in determining the quality of an emerald. In general, the larger the gemstone, the more expensive it becomes. This, however, is not ALWAYS the case. For example, an emerald gemstone may have a large carat weight, but if the gemstone is also fairly opaque, it would be less expensive than a gemstone that is more translucent. The carat weight is for sure important in determining the price of the gemstone, but the color and clarity of the gemstone are more important in determining the quality.

Hopefully this post has taught you how to choose an emerald. Now you know exactly what to look for when purchasing emerald jewelry! Knowing the 4 C’s of emeralds is important before purchasing emerald jewelry or anything that includes an emerald stone.  As emeralds are very expensive, making sure you are getting the highest quality gemstone for your dollars is absolutely essential. To review: the biggest factor in determining the quality of an emerald gemstone is it’s color, but the point of having the 4 C’s is because they all work together. To get the highest quality gemstone, it is important to consider each of the 4 C’s. 

Hannah Will
Hannah Will


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