How much does it cost to buy a 1 to 3 carat untreated, no oil, 100% natural emerald from Zambia?

Continuing with the series in how much a paticular gemstone should cost, today I will try to tackle another common question I get asked which is – “how much does a no oil, untreated, 100% natural emerald cost? Can you forward me a price list for these type of emeralds from 1 carat to 3 carat?”

Like any other color gemstones, there is no simple answer as to how much it should cost. There are many factors you have to take into account when comparing gemstones and if these are not considered it is like comparing apples to oranges.

So, how do we compare color gemstones like emeralds? I tried to simplify this process by creating a six factor concept called the 4Cs plus OT, 4Cs are carat weight, color, clarity & cut, O is origin and T is treatment. I have discussed this concept in my other blog post,” how much does cost to buy natural Burma ruby in Bangkok, Thailand?”.

Once we narrow down our search criteria based on the six factors above, price can be determined by what the market condition is for this gemstone – i.e. how much the particular mine is producing this quality gemstone and the demand consumers have for it.

For today’s blog post I will be focusing on the following 4Cs plus OT criteria. By narrowing the following criteria, it makes the process “slightly” easier to determine how much an emerald should cost.

1) Carat Weight Range – Between 1 to 3 carat size
2) Color Range – Vivid Green to Green
3) Clarity Range – Flawless to Eye visible inclusions
4) Cut – Rectangular & Emerald Cut
5) Origin – Focus on only Zambian emeralds for this article
6) Treatment – No oil treatment

Now let us discuss in detail how each of the above six factors affects emerald prices from most to least important. (Please note most criteria above can be determined by reliable third-party certificate provider. The most trustworthy certificate providers for emeralds in the market today are GIA, Gubelin or GRS certificates)

1. Color Range: Most colored gemstones professionals will agree that for emeralds, color is most important factor in determining how much it should cost. Considering all other factors as equal, if the color is off very slightly this will influence the value of an emerald significantly.   To classify color for any gemstone you have to look at three factors; hue, saturation and tone. Hue is the color range – i.e. Green, Bluish-Green, Yellowish-Green etc. Saturation is the intensity of the hue presented in a gemstone – i.e. 100% is pure color or 0% is gray color. Tone is how light or dark a gemstone is – i.e. Very light (closer to white range) or Very Dark (closer to black range). By definition for beryl (the family name for emerald) to be classified as an emerald the color of the beryl has to be between medium bluish-green to yellowish-green, with green color being dominant.   If the dominate color is too yellowish or bluish and not green, the stone is not considered an emerald according to GIA and will be called a different type of beryl which drops the value dramatically. In terms of price, the most expensive emeralds are in a very specific color range of “vivid bluish green to green color.”

List of most expensive to least expensive emerald hue range is listed below:

  1. Vivid Green
  2. Vivid Very-Slight Bluish-Green
  3. Vivid Very-Strong Bluish-Green
  4. Green
  5. Very-Slight Bluish-Green
  6. Very-Strong Bluish-Green
  7. Yellowish-Green

On the list above, I have listed bluish-green above yellowish-green emeralds, but again this really depends on what your preference is and the location where you buying the emerald from. In Asia, most people prefer the yellowish-green emeralds because they are common characteristics for Columbian emeralds which have the tradition in producing world-class emeralds compared to other origins. While in the Western hemisphere, most people prefer bluish-green emerald because they believe it reinforces the “real green” darker color of an emerald. This bluish-green trait was more common in Zambian emeralds. Zambian emeralds usually do have higher iron content and therefore usually darker or bluish-green in color. The most prized ones are closest to vivid green hue with combination of highest saturation (100% range) and medium color tone.   The lower the saturation is and/or the more away the medium tone – i.e. towards the very light or very dark range – the cheaper emerald gets.

2. Origin: Like most color gemstones, emeralds also do have a long tradition and history behind it and the emeralds which are located in particular locations are always prized more than other locations. The most prized and popular emeralds in the market today are Colombian emeralds and consist of almost 80% of all emeralds produced in the market. Zambian emeralds are second most popular (around the remaining 20% market share) and production has recently increased due to Gemfields expertise in mining & marketing them. Though these emeralds in general are cleaner and better colored (closer to “green hue”) than Colombian emeralds the market still “perceive” them to be cheaper because of origin. Emeralds are also located in many other locations around world like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Namibia, Russia, United States, etc., and again price is depended on how nice emerald looks.

3. Treatment: Simple rule for emeralds or any color gemstone is – if the emerald is subject to more treatment, the cheaper it will become. Due to emerald being naturally highly included gemstone (more information in Clarity criteria below) they are 99% of time subject to oil, wax or resin treatments. Oil being the least harsh while wax and resin considered higher up treatments. There is actually grading standard in how much oil or resin is in the fracture of an emerald – Minor, Moderate and Significant. More details regarding emerald treatments you can read in our very popular blog post – “Natural emerald buying & treatment guide – How to buy and tell the difference between 100% natural, no oil, minor, moderate and significant treatment emeralds?

4. Carat Weight: This criterion is simplest. In general, the larger an emerald is the more expensive it is. However, this also depends on the other very important 2Cs criteria (color & clarity). If an emerald has large carat weight, but is highly included (or opaque) in clarity, these gemstones aren’t too expensive. Also, if an emerald not in the “ideal” color range than the price will also be affected even if it has large carat weight.

5. Clarity: The more included or opaque (less transparent) an emerald is the cheaper it will become. Again this depends on type of inclusions the emerald have and how visible it is. Most emeralds in general have some inclusions or fractures in them due to how the crystals are formed along with the harsh techniques used in mining them. GIA actually classify them as Type III gemstones, which are considered natural gemstones that are “naturally included.” So, if you see an included emerald it is actually very normal. Due to this natural property of fractures, almost 99% of emeralds will have oil or resin in them to hide these highly visible inclusions. More information about this you can read in Treatment criteria above. So, the simple rule for emeralds is that the least eye-visible inclusion or how clean it is the more significant the price will be because these stones are very rare.

6. Cut: The more proportional, symmetrical or uniform an emerald gemstone is the more expensive it will become. This is actually the least important factor for an emerald because large “clean” emerald crystals are very hard to come by and usually emerald cutters try to retain the maximum weight, so they can sell a “larger emerald.” However, emeralds that are not cut correctly will sell at a discount compared to similar quality well cut emerald. These factors include symmetrical issues or proportions being too flat or bulky, which affects the overall look of the gemstone.

Real example in how much a 1 to 3 carat GRS or GIA certified, Zambian, No Oil Emerald, can cost.

Below is a list of four different emeralds, which are certified by either GRS or GIA, 1 to 3 carat in size, Zambian in origin and confirm to have no oil treatment (very rare). Even with these short & narrow criteria there is still a large price difference due to different factors which are explained below:

I have listed the emeralds based on quality – lowest quality first and best quality in the end. The last option is the one which I collected for myself and is still for sale, so if interested please do feel free to send me a private message.

Price for Zambian Emerald Option One (GRS certified): – 1.45 carat is US$3,335 (US$2,300 per carat)

Zambian Emerald Option One Details:
Gemstone Type: Natural Emerald;
Carat Weight: 1.45 Carat;
Measurements: 7.92 x 5.79 x 4.20 mm;
Shape: Octagonal Cut;
Cutting: Faceted step/step (4);
Colour: Green;
Clarity: Crystal not clear and slightly included inclusions (SI);
Personal Grading: “E” (on a scale of “A” to “F”) – Comment: Amazing and Pleasant Color and Great Fire!
Origin: Zambia;
Mohs Hardness: 7.5 – 8.0 (On a Scale of 10);
Rarity Scale: 8 (On a Scale of 10);
Treatments: No Indications of clarity enhancement (No Oil or 100% natural) 

Price for Zambian Emerald Option Two (GRS certified): – 1.70 carat is US$3,910 (US$2,300 per carat)

Zambian Emerald Option Two Details:
Gemstone Type: Natural Emerald;
Carat Weight: 1.70 Carat;
Measurements: 8.49 x 6.78 x 4.02 mm;
Shape: Octagonal Cut;
Cutting: Step/step (3);
Colour: Green;
Clarity: Transparent with very little eye visible inclusion (VS);
Personal Grading: “C” (on a scale of “A” to “F”) – Comment: Pleasant Color, crystal is clean, but inclusions are more visible and cut is slightly flat
Origin: Zambia;
Mohs Hardness: 7.5 to 8.0 (On a Scale of 10);
Rarity Scale: 8 (On a Scale of 10);
Treatments: No Indications of clarity enhancement (No Oil or 100% natural)

Price for Zambian Emerald Option Three (GRS certified): – 1.72 carat is US$3,956 (US$2,300 per carat)

Zambian Emerald Option Three Details:
Gemstone Type: Natural Emerald;
Carat Weight: 1.72 Carat;
Measurements: 8.43 x 6.83 x 3.88 mm;
Shape: Octagonal Cut;
Cutting: Step/step (4);
Colour: Green;
Clarity: Transparent with a few eye visible inclusion (SI);
Personal Grading: “D” (on a scale of “A” to “F”) – Comment: Pleasant Color, but inclusions are visible and cut is slightly flat
Origin: Zambia;
Mohs Hardness: 7.5 to 8.0 (On a Scale of 10);
Rarity Scale: 8 (On a Scale of 10);
Treatments: No Indications of clarity enhancement (No Oil or 100% natural)

Price for Zambian Emerald Option Four (GRS certified): – 2.05 carat is US$5,740 (US$2,800 per carat)

Zambian Emerald Option Four Details:
Gemstone Type: Natural Emerald;
Carat Weight: 2.05 Carat;
Measurements: 9.55 x 7.50 x 4.15 mm;
Shape: Octagonal Cut;
Cutting: Step/step (4);
Colour: Green;
Clarity: Transparent with a very slight eye-visible inclusion (VS);
Personal Grading: “B” (on a scale of “A” to “F”) – Comment: Pleasant Color, nice clean crystal with slight eye-visible inclusion and cut is slightly flat
Origin: Zambia;
Mohs Hardness: 7.5 to 8.0 (On a Scale of 10);
Rarity Scale: 8 (On a Scale of 10);
Treatments: No Indications of clarity enhancement (No Oil or 100% natural)

Price for Zambian Emerald Option Five (GIA certified): – 2.87 carat is US$43,050 (US$15,000 per carat)

Zambian Emerald Option Five Details:
Gemstone Type: Natural Emerald;
Carat Weight: 2.87 Carat;
Measurements: 9.40 x 7.26 x 6.13 mm;
Shape: Octagonal Cut;
Cutting: Step/step (4);
Colour: Vivid Green;
Clarity: Transparent (IF) ULTRA Rare for Emeralds;
Personal Grading: “A” (on a scale of “A” to “F”) – Comment: Can’t get better then this!
Origin: Zambia;
Mohs Hardness: 7.5 to 8.0 (On a Scale of 10);
Rarity Scale: 8 (On a Scale of 10);
Treatments: No Indications of clarity enhancement (No Oil or 100% natural)

GIA certificate can be verified on their report check website.   Link is provided here: http://tinyurl.com/p5hwky6

Now when we compare all the emeralds in one hand you can tell the difference in quality.  Images are provided below:

I hope the above guide is helpful and if you have any additional questions please feel free to provide your comments below or send me a message at sales@thainativegems.com.

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