Is Emerald a Mineral?

Emeralds are valued jewel stones that have historically been at the center of awe and wonder.

Emerald crystals are of the beryl mineral family. Emeralds are gemstones that are found in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. The countries and places emeralds are found in are few and far between.

Where to find emeralds

Colombian emerald mines are home to some of the finest emeralds known to man. Colombian emeralds mostly come from the Emerald Belt region of the country, which has been the source of world-famous emeralds. For instance, La Pita, Muzo and Cosquez mines are in the western belt while the eastern belt is home to the Chivor and Gachalá mines.

Brazilian mine regions such as Carnaiba and Socoto in Brumado have also produced some of the world’s finest emeralds.

Precious emerald deposits can also be found in the Panjshir Valle of Afghanistan’s Panjshir Province. The Russian Ural Mountains also possess great emerald mines. These natural stones can also also be found in the Kagem Emerald Mine of Ndola, Zambia -producing high-quality gem-grade Emerald.


Properties of Emeralds

Emeralds are a variety of the mineral beryl family, made from beryllium aluminum silicate. The green stone is very tough. However, they are susceptible to damage due to inconsistencies in the crystal structure; trapped water, gas, minor fractures, or inclusions of other minerals, for instance, can cause these inconsistencies.

However, a fine emerald’s value is not affected by these impurities.

Beryl crystals can be quite sizeable. The Guinness Book of Records recorded the largest of largest gem emeralds to be 1.25 m long, weighing 536 kg, found in Madagascar.

An Emerald’s Green Color

Beryl’s chemical composition is of Be3Al2(SiO3)6. In its purest form, beryl is colorless. The green gemstone’s color comes from trace amounts of chromium or vanadium in the mineral. This, coupled with trace amounts of ironwork to stain the emerald a bluish-green color that is relative to how it is oxidized, sometimes this color can be yellowish-green.

Indeed, by definition, an emerald is green. This is its core property. The color definition of this fine emerald has often left many confused. The hues, tones, and saturation combinations are the critical differences between green beryl and an emerald.

Many experts disagree on the standards to use in dictating what an emerald is from green beryl.

Green beryl

Some experts believe that green beryl stones are colored by vanadium.


Emerald is believed to be colored by chromium.

How a green gem is named can make a big difference in its marketability and price. Where an emerald is concerned -the price is higher. Green beryl is cheaper.

An Emerald’s Worth

The grading of an emerald’s worth follows a scale along with a range of B to AAA, where B is the lowest and AAA is the value. The emerald’s value lies mostly in its color and saturation levels. The quality of an emerald is also predicated on whether it is natural or lab-created, where natural emeralds are of higher value.


Natural Emeralds vs. Synthetic Emeralds

Natural Emeralds

In a natural emerald, one can expect to find inclusions or visual variations as a result of minerals within the gemstone. Inclusions are irregular patterns found in gemstones that may seem like flaws but, in fact, make them special and unique.

Lab-Created or Synthetic Emeralds

Lab-created emerald is often also referred to as a synthetic emerald. This green gemstone is one that has no inclusions or flaws; they are also significantly cheaper than natural emeralds. Otherwise, these emeralds are identical in chemical composition to natural emeralds and have similarities in appearance.

Synthetic emeralds are not as rare as natural ones. The differences in appearance speak to the disparities in price, where emeralds the grading on the emerald scale may be identical, but nonetheless, synthetic emeralds are considered less valuable. It may make sense to simply get a smaller natural emerald than a synthetic one if you are looking for value.

Sabrinna Ringquist Jyvvmai4u8c Unsplash

What are key emerald properties?


The gemological composition of emeralds is constituted by three main things: Hue, saturation, and tone.

Hues: the colors range from anywhere between yellow-green to blue-green as these undertones tend to be secondary hues; the primary hue is green.


Imperfections are a standard feature of the most authentic emeralds. Instead, the potency of the emerald’s color is more important to its price, where emeralds of vivid primary green hue, with less than 15% secondary hue and a medium-dark tone, are the more expensive kind. The way an emerald is cut with regards to its clarity means that faceted emeralds are most commonly shaped in an oval cut, or the emerald cut -shaped like a rectangle with facets around the face.


The treatment of emeralds has to do with how they are oiled. Most emeralds are oiled during the post-lapidary process. Less expensive emeralds tend to be treated with epoxy resins as opposed to oils; the effect is similar nonetheless -they fill stones with many fractures.

Treatments are performed in a vacuum chamber with mild heat, opening up the stone’s pores and allowing the oil or resin to fill fractures in the gem.

Using oil to treat gems is a traditional and standard method used in the gem trade. Nonetheless, oil-treated emeralds are not worth as much as untreated emeralds.

The gems that are untreated emeralds are also measured on a grading scale, where they can be identified by; noneminormoderate, and highly enhanced. This is not an indication of the gem’s clarity but rather its level of enhancement. If it has a none grading, it might still have visible inclusions.

This criterion differs according to each laboratory, where some gemologists are of the belief that the presence of oil indicates enhancement. Some do not depend on how the oil affects the look of the emerald.

Emeralds are minerals that carry a lot more complex than many may assume; a great deal of physical labor and science goes into the way emeralds are priced, used, and refined.


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