Colour Gemstones

Green Emerald Buying Guide

Emeralds are precious gemstones used in traditional and contemporary jewellery and known for their green tones. Verdant green, vivid and lush - -earn more about the properties of emeralds and if an emerald is the best choice for your ring.

What are emeralds?

Emeralds are a beautiful green gemstone, although are a slightly less common choice for rings than sapphires and rubies. Reaching 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale, the beryl mineral is softer than rubies, sapphires and diamonds, making them a marginally less cautious choice for engagement rings - which should be able to withstand life’s daily activities. Emerald gems are, however, a particularly enchanting choice of centre stone, and as they remain an uncommon choice for engaged couples, the green stone offers a unique edge. The lush, verdant hues are caused by traces of chromium and sometimes vanadium.

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What is the best green shade of emerald?

Emeralds that range from a vivid bluish green to pure green are considered the best. Emeralds can appear more yellow-green, extremely dark forest-green, and even pale green, and ultimately the shade you prefer is a totally personal choice. Emeralds, like most coloured gemstones, can contain ‘colour zoning’ - this is where the colour appears more intense in some areas, and weaker in others, creating an inconsistently coloured stone: choose an emerald with no visible colour zoning.

Chart showing the different shades of green emerald

The history of emeralds in jewellery

The birthstone of May, lore has often seen the emerald gem as symbolistic of the dawn of spring, new beginnings and new life. Historically, the green gemstones were greatly celebrated in Egypt, where the first mines were established around 3500BC - following which, emeralds became a favourite jewel of Cleopatra. This association with Egyptian jewellery gives emeralds their signature exotic appeal, particularly when paired with yellow gold.

Prevalence of emeralds within European jewellery grew as the Spanish discovered emerald deposits in the South Americas, typically set alongside fine diamonds to create decorative and intricate jewellery. Today, emerald stones are not the obvious choice for engagement rings, meaning emerald rings uniqueness, character and distinction.

Emeralds have this amazing ability to look extremely modern, or beautifully traditional, depending how you set them. There's nothing like an emerald set with yellow gold - an amazing combo!

Jenita | Gemmologist & Design Expert

Where do emeralds come from?

Colombia is recognised as the source of the world’s finest emeralds, but the emerald gem is also found in Brazil, Zambia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The various sources of emerald stones produce slightly different tones of green gem - for example, Zambia is known for its slightly bluish gems, whilst Muzo in Colombia is home to strong, pure green stones.

Map of top emerald producing countries

Why choose an emerald ring?

Green emeralds are undoubtedly a beautiful gemstone to choose for an engagement ring, the bold green hues can look exotic, lush and are certainly attention-grabbing. It is important, however, to remember that they aren’t the sturdiest stone - unlike diamonds, sapphires and rubies, the internal inclusions can weaken the stones and make them prone to damage. If you want to incorporate emeralds into your engagement ring, you may prefer to create a diamond and emerald ring. Consider using emeralds for a halo around a centre diamond, or alternating small, round emeralds with melee diamonds for a colourful ring band.


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About emerald characteristics

From their natural colour ranges to the types of inclusions found within an emerald, here’s a closer look at what gives an emerald its unique characteristics.

Emerald cuts

Green emeralds can be found in a variety of shapes, just like diamonds. The most iconic shape for a green emerald ring is the ‘emerald cut’, a cut first devised to celebrate emeralds with vivid green tones and high clarity. The ‘emerald cut’ shape is square or rectangular, featuring large, open step-cut facets. As emeralds don’t have such an intense sparkle as diamonds, these large facets instead celebrate subtler gleam and vibrant colour.

Green emeralds can also be cut into popular shapes like oval, round and pear shapes.

Emerald clarity

Whilst Sapphires, rubies and diamonds can be found with relatively few visible inclusions, emeralds usually contain inclusions that are visible to the naked eye. An emerald with few inclusions is so rare that the clarity of an emerald is less of a factor to worry about than some other popular gemstones and diamonds. Typically, emeralds contain inclusions known as ‘jardin’, which are moss-like clusters. If a flawless looking stone is important to you, an emerald gem may not be the best choice. That said, the natural marks within the stone are viewed by many as part of their beauty, like unique fingerprints that tell the story of their creation.

As with all gemstones, the less visible the inclusions, the rarer and more valuable the emerald. Emerald buyers should, however, be more concerned with finding the perfect colour than putting too much weight on clarity.

Emerald colours

The most important beauty factor with an emerald gemstone is its colour - and finding the perfectly coloured emerald stone for your engagement can be tricky. Colour differences can be subtle, but the ideal colour ranges from a slight bluish green to a pure green. As with most coloured gemstones, a vivid but not too dark colour is a determinant of an emerald’s value. An even colour distribution makes an emerald far more desirable than one that contains colour zoning - which is where colour is less vivid in parts of the stone that in others.

How to choose the best emerald for your ring

  • Like most gemstones, a large determinant of an emerald gem’s beauty and desirability is its colour. This can be down to preference, but typically a slight bluish to pure green is the best shade

  • Opt for an emerald that is vivid in colour - not too pale, not too dark

  • Look for even colour distribution and avoid stones with colour zoning

  • Be aware that most emeralds are pretty included, particularly compared to diamonds. The less visible any inclusions, the better

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