Back to gem encyclopedia


Emerald is the bluish green to green variety of beryl, a mineral species that includes aquamarine.

Responsive image

Highly saturated green color defines high quality emerald.

Responsive image
Beveled corners

Emerald cuts have concentric parallel rows of facets and beveled corners.

Responsive image
“jardin,” or garden.

Eye visible inclusions create an internal scene referred to as “jardin,” or garden.

Responsive image
Responsive image

Emerald crystals are commonly six-sided.

Responsive image

The tops of emerald crystals are typically rather flat.

Responsive image
Color direction

The best color is usually perpendicular to the top of the crystal.

Responsive image


About Emerald

About Emerald

Gem experts differ on the degree of green that makes one stone an emerald and another stone a less-expensive green beryl. Most gemologists, gemological laboratories, and colored stone dealers call a stone green beryl when its color is “too light” for it to be classified as emerald. Even among that group, however, there’s a difference of opinion about what’s considered “too light.”

Emerald Description

Emerald History and Lore

Emerald Journey

Birthstones & Anniversaries

As the gem of spring, emerald is the perfect choice as the birthstone for the month of May. It’s also the gem of the twentieth and thirty-fifth wedding anniversaries.

2.97 Billion Years

Age of the oldest emeralds, from South Africa.


Pharaoh known for her passion for emeralds.


2011 sales price for Elizabeth Taylor’s emerald pendant -  that's $280,000 per carat.


  • Mineral: Beryl
  • Chemistry: Be3Al2Si6O18
  • Color: Vibrant green
  • Refractive Index: 1.577 to 1.583
  • Birefringence: 0.005 to 0.009
  • Specific Gravity:   2.72
  • Mohs Hardness: 7.5 to 8


There are a number of processes used to alter the color, apparent clarity, or improve the durability of gems.

Learn More


Some gemstones have synthetic counterparts that have essentially the same chemical, physical, and optical properties, but are grown by man in a laboratory.

Learn More


Any gem can be imitated—sometimes by manmade materials or by natural materials chosen by man to impersonate a particular gem.

Learn More
gem love

Why We Love This Gemstone

Three-Phase Inclusions

Three-phase inclusions in Colombian emeralds contain tiny crystals of rock salt, liquid, and a bubble of gas.

Hexagonal Crystals

The best emerald crystals are gorgeous flat-topped green hexagonal columns that are as beautiful as faceted stones.

Ancient Egypt

The first known emerald mines were in Egypt. It is believed that these mines were worked as early as 3500BC.

Quality Factors

Emerald has been the standard for green colored stones for millennia.


quality factors

The most desirable emerald colors are bluish green to pure green, with vivid color saturation.


quality factors

In Emerald expect to see inclusions that dealers like to call an internal “jardin,” or garden.


quality factors

Due to the crystal shape emeralds are commonly cut as rectangular step cuts called emerald cuts.

Carat Weight

quality factors

Because its density is lower, a one-carat emerald will appear larger in size than a one-carat diamond.

Emerald Quality Factors: The Comprehensive Guide


Explore sources, gemological research, and the role of gems in history.

Suite of untreated Ethiopian emeralds

A New Discovery of Emeralds from Ethiopia

Nathan Renfro, Ziyin Sun, Michael Nemeth, Wim Vertriest, Victoria Raynaud, and Vararut Weeramonkhonlert , May 8, 2017 Read Article
Exploring Zambia’s Emerald Mines

GIA Field Gemologists Visit Zambia’s Emerald Mines

GIA Staff , Oct 16, 2015 Read Article
El Pulpito, the landmark overlooking the Chivor mine

In Rainier’s Footsteps: Journey to the Chivor Emerald Mine

Robert Weldon, Jose Guillermo Ortiz, and Terri Ottaway , Aug 3, 2016 Read Article
Emerald from Belmont mine

New Production of Brazilian Emerald from Minas Gerais

Duncan Pay , Apr 30, 2015 Read Article