Most Expensive Emerald Color
While the color “Emerald” refers to a very narrow range of green in the mineral beryl, it is a range nonetheless. Emeralds that are the same quality can go for vastly different prices depending on the intensity of the color.
Slightly Bluish Green
Emerald ID: E59, Weight: 1.12 Carats, Origin: Zambia, Price: $1,344.00 USD
Emerald ID: E1172, Weight: 0.93 Carats, Origin: Brazil, Price: $2,325.00 USD
Emerald ID: E964, Weight: 1.25 Carats, Origin: Zambia, Price: $5,781.25 USD
Despite being roughly similar weights and qualities, the slight differences in color cause a huge difference in price.
Ideal Emerald Green
E1287 | medium | play
Emerald ID: E1287, Weight: 1.41 Carats, Origin: Zambia, Price: $9,129. 75
Color is precisely described in three parts: hue, tone, and saturation. The most desirable hue of emerald green is slightly bluish, along with a medium tone that is not too light or too dark (like E59 above). Lastly, the saturation is ideally vivid. Saturation can range from gray, to greenish gray, to grayish green, and to green without any changes to how light or dark the color is.
To show the best color, clarity also plays a role. Too many inclusions can warp the color to a much less desirable appearance, and frankly take attention away from the color itself.
Emeralds that are clear with good color are ridiculously expensive, and untreated ones are almost unheard of.
Note that more than 99% of emeralds in the gem industry are treated with oil to enhance clarity.
The biggest reason quality emeralds cost so much is simply because they are rare. Emeralds only form under specific geological conditions, and nature forms them with random quality. It is rather miraculous that most gems form at all due to just how pure their concentrations of rare elements are.
Causes for Confusion
As mentioned above, emeralds are a specific variety of the mineral beryl. Another variety is called green beryl, which is separate from emeralds.
A green that is too light does not even qualify as an emerald, but as green beryl. Despite the fact that both varieties are green colored beryl, the distinction is financially palpable.
Saturation is not as much of an issue as tone is in the gem trade, since the vast majority of customers will not consider purchasing grayish or brownish greens. As you can see in the chart, being too light or too dark also impacts the appearance of the color.
What if the Emerald is too Blue?
Also worth noting is that if the emerald is too blue, it is instead called an aquamarine. While it does not command the same prices as emeralds, gem-quality aquamarines can be very expensive.
For example, the Dom Pedro aquamarine is valued around $5,000,000, and weighs 10,363 carats (roughly 5 pounds). If it weren’t for the fact that aquamarines are unstable under sunlight (they fade in the sun), their price would be higher, like emeralds. Contrast with how emeralds do not fade under the sun or most other common conditions.
There are a lot of other varieties of beryl too, like Maxixe, Bixbite, Heliodor, Morganite, and Goshenite.