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Emerald Value: Main Factors & Prices for Different Units

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Emerald is on the top of the most valuable gemstones. People value emeralds because of their out-of-competitive lush-green color, so the color is the main factor of emerald value. Prices for emerald ranges dramatically depending on color, clarity, and weight. The price of the most expensive pieces strongly depends on the secondary hues, whether blue or yellow. 

Emerald value factors are color, clarity, weight, quality of cut, the presence of treatment, and gemstone origin. The price for common-quality emeralds ranges dramatically from $50 to $1,000 per carat, depending on the abovementioned factors, with exceptional cases of per-carat prices up to $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 has been known to the Egyptians, who were mining emeralds as early as 3500 BC. Emerald still remains the most desirable colored gemstone accompanying 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, together with 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.

To express how expensive emeralds can be, here are two examples.

  • 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.
  • While the highest per-carat price belongs to the 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, 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 any gemstone is combined based on three characteristics: hue, tone, and saturation. The emeralds’ most valuable color is bluish-green to green, with strong to vivid saturation and medium to medium-dark tone. The color should be evenly distributed without visible color zoning. 

Emerald color is created by chromium and vanadium traces. These two elements are not necessary for beryl structure, but in rare cases, when chromium and/or vanadium enter the beryl in small amounts – saturated emerald green colors occur.

Emerald rarity can be explained by the necessity of these two elements because chemical elements essential for beryl formation (Be, Al, Si, O) and Cr, V that creates an emerald variety of beryl naturally occur in strikingly different geological conditions.

Beryls form in highly acidic and fractionated conditions and occur primarily in pegmatites. At the same time, elements like chromium and vanadium are typically associated with ultramafic and mafic rocks.

There are a lot of common pale-green beryls; however, as they do not have the desirable vivid bluish-green color, they cannot be considered emeralds and cost far less than emeralds. 

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, therefore, remarkably valuable.

Particular types of 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 number and the development of growth sectors, giving rise to the six arms of graphite impurities.


The romantic term “jardin”—the French word for garden used to describe heavenly included 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. The chatoyancy effect is created by reflective rain-like inclusions.

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 effect display a roiled appearance that resembles honey or oil. The presence of the true gota de aceite phenomenon can increase the value of the 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 shape of the faceted emerald is strongly dependent on market preferences.

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

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 totally fine when emerald is treated this way and adequately disclosed during the purchase process. 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 over time, boxes with minerals and rocks start to take up half the house. 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 for 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

There is a significant difference in emerald prices based on color. Emeralds of deep blue color with bluish hues are the most valuable, while yellowish, brownish, and grayish hues greatly reduce the price.

Emeralds with paler or lighter green colors, lower saturation, and significant undertones of other colors are considered less valuable. Trapiche and cat’s eye emeralds are phenomenal, and the price is carefully considered in each separate case. 

The most valuable bluish-green emerald commands the highest prices, from $60 to $10,000 per carat. Yellowish emeralds’ per-carat prices are around $40 – $6,000. Less valuable pale emeralds are $30 – $500 per carat. Prices for extraordinary varieties like trapiche and cat’s eye emeralds are $40 – 2,000.

Further, you can check the approximate prices for average-quality emeralds of different hues. Consider it a general overview as the price also strongly depends on the clarity of the stones and numerous factors described earlier.

Table of per-carat prices for different colors of emerald.

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 dealers can use these terms to define the type of emerald. They are “Colombian,” “Zambian,” and “Sandawana.” “Colombian” is commonly used to describe the finest emerald color. “Zambian” is often used to describe emeralds slightly darker and bluish than Colombian emeralds.

“Sandawana” describes emeralds that match stones from that source, commonly a bright, intense green, even in small sizes. The deposit is exhausted now, but the stones are still present in the market.

Be careful with this system, as it is tricky and outdated. Many stones from Zambia nowadays have even better colors than legendary Colombian.

Also, some dealers do not properly disclose this term and use them to emphasize the stone’s color but not the original locality where the emerald was sourced.

Trapiche and cat’s eye varieties come separately, as they are the desirable goals of sophisticated mineral collectors mostly. Trapiche and cat’s eye emeralds of good color and clarity are extremely valuable, either.

Where to Buy Real Emerald

To buy real emeralds in the form of faceted stone is better to consult with a professional gemologist or gem dealer and to buy only from a reputable reseller who can properly disclose the origin of the stone and any available treatment. Buying rough emeralds is easier because of the recognizable crystal habit.

There should be special attention paid while buying emeralds. There is a long history of numerous emerald treatments and a vast industry for synthetic emeralds production. Like diamonds, emeralds may have a gemological laboratory certificate, so never hesitate to ask for any available document. 

Emeralds are mainly sourced from Zambia, Colombia, Brazil, and Afghanistan. You can ask about the desirable emerald origin to understand if the dealer is confident in his/her gemstones.


The most valuable emeralds have bluish-green to green color, strong to vivid saturation, medium to medium-dark tone, exceptional clarity, and absent or minimal treatments. The highest valuable emeralds are considered to be of Columbian and Zambian origin. 

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 that are of 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 range from $30 to $1,000 per carat. Excellent quality gemstones cost dozens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars per carat.

Bluish-green transparent gemstones are the most valuable type of emerald. Trapiche and cat’s eye emerald varieties are also highly praised among 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)