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Most Expensive Emerald Color

The most expensive emerald color is a bluish green hue with medium tone and full saturation. I specify the terms hue, tone, and saturation because these are the three factors that all colors of gems are judged by, excluding black, white, and colorless gems. It is not possible to judge color in a gem that has no color to begin with.

  • Hue is what most people understand as color: red, purple, blue, green, etc. What is not widely known are modifying hues; like purplish red, orangish red, reddish orange, yellowish orange, etc. While “modifying” hues sounds alien, it is actually very straightforward.

Different Hues (Including Modifying Hues)

  • Tone refers to how light or dark a color is. The scale below is made up of greens that are all the same color, but the tones are all different

Tone Scale

  • Saturation refers to how “vivid” color is. All the colors above are vivid colors, meaning the color cannot be imagined any better than what is shown here. However, extremely light and dark tones mess with the viewer’s perception of saturation. This means an ideal color would have a medium tone.

Saturation Scale

Gray

Greenish Gray

Grayish Green

Green

The colors above all have the same tone, but different levels of saturation. Extreme de-saturation to gray makes the green into a completely different color, one that the vast majority of gem sellers do not bother with due to a highly limited market.

Definition of Emerald Green

The definition of emerald green is a gem with a bluish green to slightly yellowish green hue, and a medium light or darker tone. Saturation is not mentioned here because the color must be mainly green, not grey. Otherwise, the beryl is pretty crummy looking.

Any green colored beryl that does not meet these requirements is dubbed green beryl, which can be a bit confusing since the name describes emeralds too.

Brief Look at the 4Cs

As demonstrated above, there are three different scales for color alone. These scales also extend to the other three of the 4Cs; color, clarity, cut, and carat weight.

Clarity is a complete gamble, because nature is the one that unilaterally decides this. It is not a gradual scale the way the color is, but a jumping needle on an odometer. 99% of emeralds are so included that they are treated to improve their clarity. This leaves less than 1% to show good clarity, which is desirable to show off color the best.

Cut and carat weight are decided by the gem cutter in conjunction with what nature created in terms of color and clarity. The cutter decides how the inclusions are oriented and which direction shows the best color, all while trying to maintain maximum carat weight. It’s an incredibly difficult balancing act that almost never turns out perfectly. These listed factors are usually in conflict with one another, meaning a cutter is constantly making compromises based on what will get them top dollar for that particular emerald.

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E1131 is an example of a superb, untreated emerald. The fact that its price is 3-4 times as much as treated emeralds of comparable appearance and size is not unusual.

Emerald ID: E1132, Weight: 1.60 Carats, Origin: Colombia, Treatment: None, Price: $26,400 USD

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Emerald ID: E869, Weight: 1.00 Carats, Origin: Colombia, Price: $2,500 USD

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Emerald ID: E1573, Weight: 2.10 Carats, Origin: Colombia, Price: $7,770 USD

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Emerald ID: E1518, Weight: 3.00 Carats, Origin: Zambia, Price: $15,000 USD

While partially decided by the cutter, carat weight is mainly decided, yet again, by nature. Nature does not like making large formations of most gems. The way nature forms emeralds and everything else in the ground is by mixing up whatever is available and seeing what happens. While crude, it is why gems are so rare. This rarity also demonstrates why gems become so expensive with larger sizes.

Why The Price

Rarity is the entire drive to gemstone prices. Prices are a monetary reflection of just how difficult emeralds of different qualities are to find, and which ones are usually more desirable.

There is a popular saying in the antiques industry that applies very well here; “try to find another”. Imagine searching through emerald mines for years for an ideally colored and clear emerald, then deal with cutting before knowing what the final weight will be, and then finally spending a few months designing for, and setting the gem. This is a tremendously expensive proposition for anyone who does not perform their business this way, hence the final prices of gems. Faceted gems are a huge culmination of labor between mining, faceting, shipping, setting, and finally the sale. Maintaining a storefront, whether in-person or on-line is a huge proposition.

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