The emerald has been treasured for centuries, but a quality emerald is a rare find. The most valuable types of emeralds are valued highly because of their supreme color, cut, clarity characteristics and their carat size. However, because many emeralds are flawed, emerald shoppers need to beware of enhancements which may drastically affect the value of emerald gemstones.
Characteristics of Valuable Emeralds
The most highly valued emeralds are a rich dark green color with flashes of blue, and the gemstones are completely saturated in color. The medium to light green emeralds are valued much lower, particularly those with secondary flashes of yellow.
Emeralds are almost always included; this means that slight fractures, bubbles or impurities are inside of the gem. If too many inclusions exist, an emerald can be prone to cracking, chipping or breaking. Because emeralds usually contain some type of inclusion, the clarity does not affect the value as much as it would, for example, a diamond. However, too many inclusions will lower the value of an emerald gemstone. A quality custom cut will always increase the value of an emerald, and an emerald with excellent clarity and color characteristics -- plus a spectacular cut -- is the highest valued of all.
Emerald Value and Carat Size
Carat size will have a huge impact on the value of an emerald, because emeralds displaying deep green colors and good clarity ratings are rarely found in sizes over 1 carat. Prized emerald gemstones over 1 carat in size rapidly increase in value and will begin to double, triple and even quadruple in price as the carat size increases.
Emerald Value and Enhancements
Enhancing emeralds to improve the clarity and/or fill fractures in the gemstones is a common practice, but some types of enhancements will have a big impact on the value of the gemstones. Accepted enhancements include using a clear colorless oil, wax or resin to seal the gemstone and fill fractures. This type of enhancement will have a moderate effect on an emerald's value and is not permanent. Any type of fill which uses a colored or dyed oil, resin or wax to temporary enhance the color of the gemstone will dramatically decrease the value of the emerald; using colored dyes on emeralds is not an accepted type of enhancement.
Shoppers looking for highly valued emeralds need to use precaution to avoid purchasing an imitation emerald or an emerald which has been heavily enhanced. The Gemological Institute of America reports that emerald imitations are sometimes made from green glass or synthetic spinel gemstones. Heavily enhanced gemstones can be difficult to spot too, and the best way to ensure that an emerald is a true and highly valued emerald is to have the emerald certified by a reputable gemological laboratory.
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