They’re very similar in composition to sapphires and rubies, but how rare are emeralds?
It’s a little known fact, but fine emeralds are extremely rare – much more so than fine diamonds. They often command a higher price-per-carat than diamonds, owing to their rarity.
Read on to learn more about emeralds and their intense level of rarity.
Green, Green Gems
Emeralds are very similar to sapphires and rubies. Alongside diamonds, these four stones make up the bulk of all rare and precious jewels.
While rubies and sapphires are composed of corundum, emeralds are made up of beryllium. There’s also a stark difference in the coloring: sapphires are blue, rubies are red, and emeralds are green.
The difference in composition also leads to a difference in the strength of the stones. Where sapphires and rubies are extremely tough, emeralds are slightly ‘softer’.
As a result, they can be scratched easily and must be taken care of more intensely. We discussed the toughness of rubies in another article.
Out of all the ‘common’ precious stones, emeralds are the rarest and often the most valuable. When they’re unearthed and cut to true gem quality, they demand a higher cost than fine diamonds.
It’s reported that emeralds are more than twenty times rarer than diamonds, which explains their extreme value. The finer the quality and higher the weight, the more substantial the cost.
As a working example, an average quality, five-carat emerald could sell for anything up to fifteen thousand dollars. This is of course a very subjective example, as the market value is constantly changing.
However, the cost of an ‘extra-fine’ five-carat emerald is considerably higher. These jewels could allegedly fetch as much as ninety-five thousand dollars a gem.
The finest and rarest emeralds boast a dark and vivid coloring, complete with transparency throughout the gem. As with all gemstones, there’s no one set standard for pricing, and each is valued differently.
Top of the World
There have been countless emeralds sold at auction all around the world, but some have gone down in history.
One of the greatest was the Rockefeller Emerald, sold at Christie’s in 2018 for five and a half million dollars. This enormous gemstone was mounted to a diamond and gold ring.
In 2019, an exquisitely carved emerald sold at auction for almost two million dollars. The Taj Mahal Emerald was a true one-of-a-kind, with a detailed design having been carved into the gem.
Although, the most valuable emerald on the planet dwarfs all of these, making them look cheap by comparison.
The Bahia Emerald, unearthed in Brazil two decades ago is the largest gemstone ever discovered. It weighs in at a mindblowing 1.9 million carats and is reportedly worth almost a billion dollars.
However, it has led a tumultuous life since its discovery in 2001. It was passed from pillar to post, with Brazil claiming it was mined illegally right from the start.
There was an ongoing dispute regarding ownership of the emerald that lasted several years. It was finally decreed that a holding company would be granted ownership of the enormous gemstone.
Although rubies, diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds are incredibly rare, they’re not the rarest. There are several gemstones that are even harder to come by.
For example, tanzanite – a stunning blue gemstone found only in a specific location within Tanzania, Africa. It’s expected that once the known tanzanite deposits have been depleted, the value of the stone will soar dramatically.
Throughout the twentieth century, the undisputed champion of rarity was painite. In 1951, a single gem was discovered, with no more being found until the twenty-first century.
For decades, there was one single stone of painite. However, there were mines opened in Myanmar in the 2000s following the discovery of deposits there.
Since then, around a thousand painite gems have been unearthed.
One of the most sought-after rare and precious stones is the red beryl. This stone is very similar to emerald, being made from the same base mineral.
It’s said that for every single red beryl that is found, one hundred and fifty thousand gem-quality diamonds are uncovered. However, it’s a tiny stone and weighs almost nothing as a standalone gem.
The future of gems and jewels is always an unpredictable one. Who can say which will become the rarest next, or if another may be discovered?