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Emerald Value: Main Factors & Prices for Different Units

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Emerald is one of the most valuable gemstones. People value emeralds because of their unique lush green color, which is the primary factor determining emerald value. Prices for emeralds vary greatly depending on color, clarity, and weight. The prices of the most expensive pieces are heavily influenced by secondary hues, such as blue or yellow.

Color, clarity, weight, cut quality, treatment presence, and gemstone origin all contribute to an emerald’s value. The price of common-quality emeralds varies dramatically from $50 to $1,000 per carat, depending on the factors mentioned earlier, with exceptional cases of per-carat prices exceeding $300,000.

Emeralds were always at the top of the most desirable gemstones as there is no other gemstone of such saturated and intense green color that can occur in good clarity to be faceted into a gem. Emerald was known to the Egyptians, who mined emeralds as early as 3500 BC. Emerald still remains the most desirable colored gemstone, and it has accompanied people for thousands of years. 

Emerald Value
Emerald Value, photo by O. Rybnikova

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Is Emerald Worth Anything

Emerald is genuinely a valuable gemstone. Even of lousy quality, raw emeralds or mineral crystal samples will cost more than any other gemstone, like middle-quality topaz, tourmaline, and spinel.

As with any other gemstone, the price is determined by the color, clarity, and size conditions. Emerald and ruby and sapphire create the Big Three of gemstones – the most expensive, valuable, and desirable colored gems.

Emerald possesses the top position in the most expensive gemstone rating. It is the most valuable green-colored gemstone. Emerald value is based on both its beauty and historical background. The gemstone has been known and praised for thousands of years and does not stop increasing in value. 

Also, it’s necessary to mention that emerald value can fluctuate based on market conditions, trends, and demand. But in general, there was no significant decrease or boost; emerald prices typically grow.

How Much Is Emerald Worth

Emerald prices vary dramatically from $ 50 to $ 300,000 per carat. The average price for emerald is $50 to $1,000 per carat. Expect these gemstones to have some visible inclusions and oil treatment that is common for emeralds. For rough emeralds of standard quality, the price is $30-300 for small samples.

Here are two examples of how expensive emeralds can be.

  • Elizabeth Taylor’s Bulgari emerald holds the record for the highest total price ever paid for an emerald at $6,130,500, or $281,329 per carat at 23.46 carats.
  • The highest per-carat price is for Rockefeller Emerald. It was sold for $304,878 per carat (weighing 18.04 carats) at a total price of US$5,511,500.

Why is Emerald So Expensive? Main Factors

Why is Emerald So Expensive
Why is Emerald So Expensive, photo by O. Rybnikova

Emeralds are so expensive because of their rarity in good quality and high demand on the market, which is explained by the combination of gemstone beauty and historical background. The main quality factors are color, clarity, size, and the quality of the cut. Also, for emeralds, the origin of the stone is essential. 


The color of each gemstone is determined by three characteristics: hue, tone, and saturation. The most valued emerald color ranges from bluish-green to green, with strong to vivid saturation and a medium to medium-dark tone. The color should be distributed equally, with no noticeable color zoning.

Chromium and vanadium traces generate the emerald color. These two elements are not required for beryl structure; however, saturated emerald green colors develop when chromium and vanadium enter the beryl in trace amounts.

Emerald rarity can be explained by the necessity of these two elements, as chemical elements required for beryl formation (Be, Al, Si, O) and Cr, V, which produce an emerald variant of beryl, naturally occur in radically distinct geological settings.

Beryls originate in acidic and fractionated environments and are mainly found in pegmatites. Elements such as chromium and vanadium commonly connect with ultramafic and mafic rocks.

There are several common pale-green beryls, but because they lack the necessary bright bluish-green color, they cannot be considered emeralds and are far less expensive.

TIP: Beryl and emerald have the same chemical formula. Both chemically and structurally, they are the same material. Check out their differences in the article below:
Beryl vs. Emerald: 7 Key Differences (Are They The Same?)


The most prized emeralds are highly transparent. Emeralds are commonly fractured minerals because of their unique geological formation characteristics.

That is why it is a common practice to treat emeralds with oils to enhance visible clarity. Naturally transparent and lacking fractures, gemstones are extremely rare and remarkably valuable.

Particular inclusions can be present in emeralds, sometimes increasing the price of common-quality stones. 


Trapiche emerald is a crystal with a distinct pattern resembling a wheel with six spokes. The crystal’s hexagonal symmetry determines the growth sectors’ number and development, giving rise to the six arms of graphite impurities.


The romantic term “jardin”—the French word for garden used to describe heavenly, including emeralds, due to their resemblance to moss or garden. Be careful with this term. The presence of the jardin term doesn’t increase the quality and value of the stone.

Cat’s eye (chatoyancy)

Emeralds cut cabochon form can occasionally display a chatoyant (cat’s eye) effect that is highly sought after in large gems. Reflective rain-like inclusions create the chatoyancy effect.

Oil drop (Gota de aceite)

Gota de aceite (Spanish for “drop of oil,” pronounced “go-tuh day ah-say-tay”) describes a remarkable phenomenon that occurs very rarely and typically only in the finest emeralds.

Emeralds with this characteristic have a roiled look that mimics honey or oil. The presence of the natural gota de aceite phenomena can boost the value of an emerald.

Size (carat weight)

The size of the emerald also affects its value. Smaller emeralds generally have lower per-carat prices than larger stones due to the scarcity of larger, high-quality stones.

The quality of the cut

It is a general tendency that well-cut emeralds with precise facets that enhance the stone’s color and brilliance are more valuable. 

Because of the rough emerald crystal shape, which is an elongated hexagonal prism, the most common shape of the faceted stone is a step-cut octagon. This shape allows minimal weight loss between the rough and the finished stone.

That is why some other fancy cuts like oval, pear, marquise, or heart shapes, in brilliant, step, or mixed-cut facet arrangements, can command higher prices than ordinary octagon step-cut. However, the faceted emerald is shape strongly depends on market preferences.

Another crucial factor in emerald faceting is many emerald crystals’ bluish-green to yellowish-green dichroism.

This means that the emerald’s final color strongly depends on how the cutter orients the table regarding the elongation of rough crystal. The preferable orientation is perpendicular to the crystal’s length.

This orientation ends up in a bluish-green face-up color of a gem. The orientation of the table parallel to crystal elongation will release yellowish pleochroic colors that are less valuable.

The presence of treatment

It’s a common practice in the industry to treat emeralds with oil or resin to improve their appearance.

That is fine when emerald is treated this way and adequately disclosed during purchase. Hence, untreated emeralds with natural clarity command higher prices because of their rarity.

Origin of the stone

The origin of emeralds can also influence the price. Emeralds from such renowned sources as Colombia, Zambia, or Brazil are highly valued due to their historical significance and reputation for producing fine gemstones.

In the case of emeralds, sometimes the most valuable gemstones can be attributed to Chivor and Muzo legendary mines from Columbia. Be careful with these stones and double-check the origin, as nowadays, these mines are weakened.

TIP: Mineral collecting is an exciting hobby, but boxes with minerals and rocks take up half the house over time. Check out the complete guide on selling rock collection in the article below:
5 Proven Tips on Selling Your Rock Collection (How & Where)

Emerald Price per Pound, Ounce, Gram, Kg & Carat

Emerald Price per Pound, Ounce, Gram, Kg & Carat
Emerald Price per Pound, Ounce, Gram, Kg & Carat, photo by O. Rybnikova

Emerald prices for common-quality stones range between $30 to $1,000. These gems’ prices are $150 – $2,500 per gram, $4,251 – $70,000 per ounce, and $67,950 – $1,132,500 per pound. Excellent quality gemstones cost dozens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars per carat.

Here is a table showing the emerald prices for different units. The price is considered for average-quality emeralds.

Weight unitsEmerald price for faceted gemstones
per carat (ct)$30 – $1,000**
per gram (g)$150 – $2,500*
per ounce (oz)$4,251 – $70,000*
per pound (Ib)$67,950 – $1,132,500*
per kilo (kg)$150,000 – $2,500,000*
Emerald Price per Pound, Ounce, Gram, Kg & Carat

** – extraordinary $304,878 per carat is the highest-known price
* – recalculated based on the price per carat

Emerald Price by Color

Emerald costs vary significantly depending on color. Emeralds in deep blue with bluish hues are the most valuable, whereas yellowish, brownish, and grayish hues significantly diminish the price.

Emeralds with paler or lighter green tints, lower saturation, and strong undertones of other colors are regarded as less valued. Trapiche and cat’s eye emeralds are exceptional, and each case’s cost is carefully evaluated.

The most expensive bluish-green emeralds attract the highest prices, ranging from $60 to $10,000 per carat. Yellowish emeralds range in price per carat from $40 to $6,000. Pale emeralds are less precious, costing between $30 and $500 per carat. Extraordinary variations such as trapiche and cat’s eye emeralds range in price from $40 to $2,000.

You may also look for the approximate prices for average-quality emeralds in various hues. Consider this a general summary, as the cost is also heavily influenced by the clarity of the stones and the other aspects mentioned above.

A table of per-carat prices for various emerald tints.

Color/phenomenon of emeraldPrice range per carat
Bluish-green to green$60 – $10,000
Yellowish-green$40 – $6,000
Pale-green$30 – $500
Trapiche emerald$40 – $1,800
Cat’s eye emerald$150 – $2,000
Emerald Price by Color

TIP: Rock colors are determined by the minerals that make up the rock. Find out more about different rock colors in the article below:
Rock Colors: What Determines Color & Why Different Colors

What is the Most Valuable Type of Emerald

What is the Most Valuable Type of Emerald
What is the Most Valuable Type of Emerald

Faceted emeralds of iconic green color and perfect transparency remain the most valuable colored gemstones that generally cost even more than common diamonds. 

The most valuable type of emerald is flawlessly transparent bluish-green to green with strong to vivid saturation and medium to medium-dark tone gems. The price will also depend on the gemstone’s origin. Colombian emeralds are considered the most valuable. Trapiche and cat’s eye varieties of emerald are also highly valuable.

Sometimes, merchants use these words to describe the sort of emerald. They’re “Colombian,” “Zambian,” and “Sandawana.” “Colombian” is often used to denote the best emerald color. “Zambian” is commonly used to characterize emeralds slightly darker and bluer than Colombian emeralds.

“Sandawana” refers to emeralds similar to stones from that source, typically a vivid, intense green, especially in small sizes. The deposit has been drained, although the stones are still available on the market.

This system is complex and out of date, so proceed with caution. Many Zambian stones today have even better colors than the legendary Colombian.

Furthermore, some dealers need to adequately disclose this phrase and use it to accentuate the stone’s color rather than the original location where the emerald was mined.

Trapiche and cat’s eye variants are sold individually because expert mineral collectors mainly desire them. Trapiche and cat’s eye emeralds with good color and clarity are also highly valued.

Where to Buy Real Emerald

To purchase genuine emeralds in the form of faceted stones, speak with a competent gemologist or gem dealer and only buy from a reputable reseller who can fully reveal the origin of the stone and any available treatment. The identifiable crystal habit makes buying rough emeralds easy.

Emeralds should be purchased with caution. There is a lengthy history of emerald treatments and a thriving synthetic emerald business. Emeralds, like diamonds, may come with a gemological laboratory certificate; therefore, never hesitate to request any accessible documentation.

Emeralds are mainly obtained from Zambia, Colombia, Brazil, and Afghanistan. You might question the preferred emerald origin to determine whether the merchant is confident in their jewels.


The most precious emeralds have bluish-green to green color, strong to vibrant saturation, medium to medium-dark tone, superb clarity, and little or few treatments. The most precious emeralds are thought to be of Colombian and Zambian provenance.

The main factors of emerald value are:

  • Color. The most desirable color of emerald is bluish-green to green.
  • Clarity. Inclusions in the form of tiny fractures are acceptable for emeralds. Emeralds without any visible inclusions are precious.
  • Size (carat weight). Emeralds of higher carat weight and exceptional quality are more valuable.
  • The quality of the cut. The gemstones’ cuts have to be precise, symmetrical, and proportional. Fancy cuts are more valuable.
  • The presence of treatment. Emeralds with minimum or absent oiling treatment are more valuable. 
  • The origin of the gemstone. Columbian and Zambian emeralds are considered more valuable.

Common-quality emeralds can cost anything from $30 to $1,000 per carat. Excellent quality gemstones can cost tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, per carat.

The most precious emeralds are bluish-green translucent gemstones. Trapiche and cat’s eye emerald types are also highly valued by mineral collectors.

TIP: To find emeralds in nature, you must look for them in gravels, mines, pegmatites, or creeks. Find out the complete guide on finding emeralds in the United States in the article below:
Where to Find Emerald: Best Environments & Locations (USA)