top of page
Emerald Whisper's Company Logo
  • Writer's pictureEmerald Whisper

Understanding the Emerald Color Chart: A Complete Guide to Evaluating Gemstone Color.

If you’re deciphering the color nuances of an emerald, the high quality emerald color chart is essential. It demystifies the hue, tone, and saturation—the criteria essential to an emerald’s value. This guide will walk you through how to read this chart and use it to evaluate emerald quality, without getting lost in technicalities. Get ready to confidently identify high-quality emeralds with a clear understanding of what makes their color stand out.

Key Takeaways

  • The most valuable and desirable emerald hues range from bluish-green to pure green with vivid saturation and ideal tone, avoiding extremes that are either too dark or too light.

  • Emerald quality is assessed using a color chart that considers three attributes: hue, tone, and saturation, with high-quality emeralds typically exhibiting medium to dark tones and a strong saturation level.

  • The clarity of an emerald, impacted by the type and extent of inclusions and the gemstone’s transparency, along with the cut and carat weight also significantly influence the overall quality and value of the stone.

Understanding Emerald Color: The Key to High Quality

Color, arguably the most captivating aspect of an emerald, plays a pivotal role in determining its quality. The most coveted emeralds exhibit a range of hues from bluish-green to pure green, with vivid saturation and an ideal tone that is neither too dark nor too light.

Let’s delve deeper into these captivating hues.

Bluish Green

Bluish-green is considered the most valuable and sought-after hue for emeralds, often found in high-quality Colombian gems. This hue’s allure lies in its captivating depth, a visual treat that combines the tranquility of blue with the vitality of green. Colombian and Zambian emeralds, known for their desirable bluish-green color, are highly regarded in the gemstone market, contributing to their high value.

These natural emeralds exemplify the top-tier category of “Heirloom/Rare,” boasting superior luster and clarity.

Pure Green

Next in our exploration of emerald hues is pure green, a color that commands the highest respect in the colored gemstones market. Colombian emeralds are the epitome of this hue, their intense and vivid color setting the standard for high-quality emerald gemstone, especially those with a pure green color.

The richness and depth of pure green natural emerald captivate the viewer, creating a mesmerizing effect that enhances their value, especially when compared to dark green alternatives.

Yellowish Green

Last but not least, we arrive at yellowish-green emeralds. Premium emeralds often exhibit a predominantly green coloration, which may include a secondary hue of yellow, up to 15%. This optimal balance of green and yellow hues commands higher prices, further illustrating the importance of color balance in determining an emerald’s quality and value.

But remember, if the hue leans too much towards yellow, the emerald can lose its premium classification, decreasing its value.

Hue & Tone: The Emerald Color Chart (A Visual Guide)

Hue and Tone on Emeralds
Visual Guide for Green Emeralds Color: Hue / Tone

To further refine our understanding of emerald color, we turn to the emerald color chart. This visual tool evaluates emerald color based on three critical aspects: hue, tone, and saturation, with high-quality emeralds typically falling within the medium to very dark tonal range.

Let’s dissect these elements one by one.


In simple terms, hue refers to the type of green color that an emerald exhibits. This characteristic distinguishes emeralds from other green gemstones. To qualify as an emerald, a gemstone must exhibit a hue ranging from:

  • slightly yellowish green

  • bluish green

  • medium light to dark tones

  • predominantly green coloration

The most desirable and valuable shade in the gem market is a bluish-green to pure green, which significantly contributes to the stone’s quality and value.

The narrow and specific range of hues, particularly the ideal bluish-green, is one of the major factors that set emeralds apart in the gemstone market.


Tone, another crucial factor in evaluating emerald color, influences how light or how dark is the tone perceived for the overall value of the gemstone. High-quality emeralds tend to have a tone in the medium to very dark range, avoiding extremes that can detract from their desirability. An overly dark tone can cause an emerald to lose vividness, while a tone that’s too light may not show the sought-after depth of color.

However, a balance of the right hue and medium to vivid saturation can yield a highly valued emerald, illustrating the interdependence of these color attributes.


Saturation refers to the intensity and strength of the emerald’s Hue and Tone, ranging from very dull to pure and vivid. An emerald’s value is greatly influenced by its color saturation, with rich saturation being more impactful than mere darkness of color. High saturation levels enhance an emerald’s visual appeal, making the stone more appealing even with a lighter tonal grade, and producing a green intensity that might be matchless in nature.

Highly saturated emeralds are identified as higher quality due to the improved luminosity and color presentation, distinguishing them significantly in the market.

Clarity: Evaluating Inclusions and Transparency

Emerald clarity, another vital quality factor, revolves around the gemstone’s inclusions and transparency. Inclusions are common in emeralds, with their presence and impact on transparency affecting the gemstone’s value and aesthetics. Clarity emeralds, as a term, refers to these gemstones with varying levels of inclusions and transparency.

Let’s delve deeper into these aspects.

Types of Inclusions

Inclusions in emeralds can take various forms, such as:

  • crystals

  • three-phase inclusions

  • needles

  • color-zoning

  • fingerprints

Some inclusions, like the distinctive star-like pattern found in Trapiche emeralds, can add to their value due to their rarity. Whether it’s fissures, growth tubes, spiral inclusions, or fingerprint inclusions, the presence of these internal features can influence the appearance and durability of emeralds.

Understanding the type and arrangement of inclusions present within the gemstone can help in assessing its true worth.

Assessing Transparency

Transparency in emeralds is impacted by the level and type of inclusions present. Heavily included emeralds have reduced light reflection and less visible color. Inclusions that reach the surface of an emerald can negatively impact transparency and increase the risk of fractures, reducing the stone’s value and durability.

Despite these challenges, it’s important to note that:

  • Eye-visible inclusions are generally accepted if they do not severely impact the gemstone’s transparency.

  • When evaluating transparency, one must consider the presence and visual impact of inclusions.

  • Fewer inclusions generally lead to higher transparency.

  • The higher the size the more inclusions are tend to show on the emerald.

The Role of Cut and Carat Weight in Emerald Quality

Beyond color and clarity, the cut and carat weight of an emerald play significant roles in determining its quality and value. These factors influence not only the gemstone’s aesthetics but also its market price.

Let’s explore these aspects further.

Emerald Cut

The emerald cut, characterized by large, parallel facets and a distinctive rectangular shape with cropped corners, is designed to maximize the gemstone’s color and visual appeal. The refined design of the emerald cut, with its clean, crisp lines, suits Art Deco and contemporary styles, offering a unique ‘hall of mirrors’ effect rather than intense brilliance.

Additionally, the emerald cut’s elongated shape offers the illusion of a larger gem on the finger, making it desirable for those seeking a more prominent look with less carat weight.

Carat Weight

Carat weight significantly impacts an emerald’s market value, with prices increasing exponentially as carat weight increases. Emeralds that are larger than 2 carats are especially rare and command high value and desirability among aficionados. High-quality emeralds come in a range of popular carat sizes, including:

  • 0.25 carats

  • 0.5 carats

  • 1 carat

  • 2 carats

  • 3 carats

  • 4 carats

  • 5 carats

These sizes reflect the rarity of emeralds and the premium prices they fetch.

Emerald Grading Systems: Comparing Different Scales

Emeralds are graded based on color and clarity, with designations such as:

The AAA Grading System 

  • AAAA (Heirloom)

  • AAA (Best)

  • AA (Better)

  • A (Good)

These emerald grading scale emeralds are used to categorize emeralds based on their quality attributes, and the correlation between these attributes and their market price is crucial for both buyers and sellers.

For instance, Heirloom/Rare or Natural AAAA emeralds represent the top tier, characterized by their rich green color, minimal to moderate inclusions, and high brilliance. On the other hand, natural aa gemstones, such as Natural A grade emeralds, which are darker green, heavily included, and opaque, rank lower in quality and make up a significant portion of the market. To better understand the value and characteristics of these stones, a natural aa gemstones account can provide useful information.

The Four C’s Grading System of Emerald Grading

This system is used to grade diamonds and emeralds. It was developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

Color, clarity, cut, and carat weight are the 4Cs. Lear More Here.

Treatments and Enhancements: Improving Clarity and Quality

To enhance the beauty of emeralds, various treatments and enhancements are commonly used. These techniques, such as oiling or resin filling, are used to improve the clarity and overall quality of the gemstones.

Let’s delve into these practices that have become a standard in the industry by clicking on this post dedicated entirely to this topic.


In the alluring world of emeralds, understanding the various quality factors that contribute to their value is key. From the captivating hues of green and their saturation and tone, the inherent inclusions and their impact on transparency, to the importance of cut and carat weight - all play a significant role in determining an emerald’s worth. Furthermore, being aware of the various grading scales and the treatments used to enhance emerald clarity can empower you to make informed decisions, whether you’re a collector, a jeweler, or an admirer of these stunning gemstones.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most beautiful emerald?

The most beautiful emerald is the Chalk Emerald, a 37.82 carat gem renowned for its remarkable color and clarity, sourced from Colombia.

Are darker emeralds more expensive?

Darker emeralds are not necessarily more expensive. The value of an emerald is determined more by its rich color saturation than its darkness. Consider the color saturation, rather than just the darkness, when determining an emerald's value.

What is the highest grade emerald?

The highest grade emerald is Natural AAA, AA, A, and B, according to the Gemstone Letter grading system for gemstones.

What color is a good quality emerald?

A good quality emerald is characterized by a bluish green to pure green color, with excellent clarity and even distribution of color. This color saturation and tone should not be too dark. The most prized emeralds are highly transparent, exhibiting these characteristics.

What is the most valuable color for emeralds?

The most valuable color for emeralds is bluish-green, commonly found in high-quality Colombian gems. This hue offers a captivating depth of color by combining the tranquility of blue with the vitality of green.

If you liked this Post and want to learn more, kindly subscribe and explore all our blog section called: The Emerald Blog.

84 views0 comments


bottom of page