How are Emeralds Formed?

Written By: Vahid Moradi

It's commonly believed that diamonds are the rarest precious gemstone on earth, but that's not true. You may be surprised to hear that emeralds are actually twenty times rarer than diamonds, and they go for significantly more money too. Emeralds can be worth up to $18K per carat, depending on the cut and quality of one. 

Of the variations of emeralds including Brazilian emeralds and trapiche emeralds, the rarest type of natural emeralds are those that have a dark green color, with transparency throughout the entire gem. These emeralds are typically sold at auctions due the rarity and value of them, often being mounted on rings or other jewelry after being sold. The largest emerald  crystal ever discovered, weighing in at about 1.9 million carats, is estimated to be worth nearly one billion dollars. Emerald jewelry can be found in different variations and is definitely one of the most valuable gemstones. 

All this being said, emeralds aren't the rarest precious stone out there, but they certainly are rarer than most diamonds. Most emeralds are found in the countries of Brazil and Colombia in South America, as well as  Zambia, with the most valuable being found in Colombia. 


Emeralds and diamonds are measured by the same system, but are evaluated differently. For example, emerald stones are evaluated on their green color, while diamonds are evaluated based on how much color they lack in most cases. Pink, blue, and red diamonds are not evaluated on their lack of color. Emeralds are also graded without magnification, unlike diamonds. 

Carat weight is a determining factor in the rarity of a gem. The more a gem weighs, the more it goes for. Even so, an emerald typically costs more per carat than a white diamond, as diamonds make up more than half of the precious gem industry.

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Emeralds are rarer than the beautiful blue sapphires that people tend to covet. However, most emeralds undergo treatment to improve their clarity. If you’re unfamiliar with them or wondering, “what is sapphire crystal gemstone?” These gemstones are similar to emeralds and rubies. Sapphires come in several colors; even the ruby is considered a sapphire. Sapphires can be pink, orange, yellow, green, or purple if you think of the ruby as a separate gem. Both emeralds and sapphires are considered one of the four precious gemstones. 

Sapphires are mainly found in Kenya, Colombia, India, and Cambodia. Like emeralds, sapphires are graded on the color of the gem, with blue sapphires being the most expensive. These gems usually go anywhere from $1,000 to $11,000 per carat. 


When comparing a real emerald to a ruby, you might wonder, “how rare are rubies?” Despite rubies being a different colored sapphire, they're actually rarer than emeralds. This makes them the rarest of the precious gemstones, aside from colored diamonds. The first ruby was first discovered in 1973 in the country of Kenya, which may tell you a lot about just how rare rubies are. A ruby's red color comes from the presence of chromium, which is a chemical element valued for its high corrosion resistance and hardness. Rubies are usually found in Myanmar, Thailand, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Some rubies have even gone for over $225K per carat.  Nonetheless, a real emerald is still considered one of the rarest gemstones.


Emeralds are formed differently depending on whether the process is natural or synthetic, though the green gem color of all emeralds will either come from a small amount of chromium or vanadium. 


When an emerald is formed naturally, it's usually in pegmatite deposits or hydrothermal veins. This is usually in a metamorphic environment as well, meaning rocks have transformed from an already existing rock to a new type of rock. The process is known as metamorphism, and the rocks transform due to being exposed to high temperatures or pressure, both of which are vital in the formation of most gemstones. 


In hydrothermal veins, hydrothermal fluids escape from magma located deep within the Earth's crust. If the hydrothermal fluids contain the necessary elements to form an emerald, they begin to cool in deposit veins and form emeralds. Because quartz and calcite are formed through the same process, they are often found near emeralds. 


Pegmatite is the host rock for any rare mineral formed in a pegmatite deposit. Magma is the component that helps form the natural emerald instead of hydrothermal fluids. Elements are left in the magma after it cools, and if the right ones remain, then an emerald is  formed in its place. However, since the temperature in these particular environments can range from 750 to 930 degrees Fahrenheit, the cooling of the magma can take thousands of years. The emeralds we see today often formed millions of years ago. 


The other type of emerald gemstone formation aside from natural emerald is manmade. Manmade formation, otherwise known as synthetic formation, is when an emerald is formed in a lab environment. Synthetic formation involves two methods of formation: hydrothermal and flux-growth. 


In this synthetic emerald method, emeralds are grown over a beryl in an acidic environment and  a silicon-rich nutrient. The chemicals are then heated to temperatures between 930 and 1112 degrees Fahrenheit at 700 to 1400 kilobars of pressure. Since the chromium is in an acidic environment, it doesn't separate of the growing medium. The silicon-rich  nutrient is kept apart from other chemicals to prevent it from stunting the emerald's growth. 


In the flux-growth method, emeralds are formed over a color beryl, often referred to as the seed crystal. Melted materials such as tungstates, molybdates, and vanadates form a flux, which means a crystal has been grown in high temperature solutions. The beryl is rotated and placed in this solution before being removed, which synthesizes the beryl and forms  a synthetic emerald.


Found from different parts of the world, mainly from South America and Africa, the emerald gemstone holds different meanings and symbols. Emeralds actually have four different meanings, separated into categories of wellness, spirituality, emotionality, and birth month. Since the natural history of the earliest mined emeralds can be traced back to 1500 BCE in Egypt, it's not surprising people associate so much meaning with them. 


Ancient healers believed emeralds held the power to help heal minor illnesses of the mind and body. Simply being near one of these precious gemstones was thought to bring healing to a person. Emeralds were even soaked in water overnight and then poured over a person's eyes to bring healing to vision or eye injuries. It was also believed they could heal the heart, kidneys, pancreas, and immune system. 

Aside from physical wellness, emeralds were thought to radiate  soothing energy. They could generate freshness and vitality in the spirit, and they embodied patience and compassion, bringing those same qualities to the wearer of the gemstone. Some still believe an emerald crystal holds the same wellness power today. 


Emeralds are considered to be a stone that represents love, vitality, new beginnings, and spring. It's also been thought to represent a faithful relationship and a strong connection with a partner. For this reason, it was often given as an engagement or promise ring to a lover. 


In Ancient Greece and Rome, the emerald was believed to be the gemstone of the goddess Venus, otherwise known as Aphrodite, depending on the region, making it a stone representing truth and love. The Incas and Egyptians also coveted the green beryl, with the Egyptians considering it a gem of eternal life. They thought it to be a gift from the god of wisdom, Thoth. It's also associated with intuition, revelation of the future, and sight.


Emeralds are the birthstone of May. It's believed to bring those with the spring birthday renewed life and success, as well as good health. It brings out the wanderer, explorer, and scientist within a person, encouraging meditation and reflection to help a person see things clearly and rationally. Even if you don't believe gemstones can bring good fortune to a person, it's still a beautiful gem to wear. May birthstone jewelry can be found in many forms, including necklaces and rings, and make the perfect gift for an individual born in May.


Here at CJ Charles, we offer a wide array of beautiful emerald jewelry for you or a loved one to wear. Our gemstones come from around the world, so you can find emeralds from Zambia, Colombia, and anywhere else these precious stones are found. 


If you're looking for a natural emerald, then this platinum and 18K yellow gold natural Zambian emerald ring might be perfect for you. The band is made up of platinum and 18K yellow gold, fitted with an 8.5-carat emerald and surrounded on both sides by a total of 1.29-carats worth of diamonds. The Zambian emerald has a rare clarity and brilliance to it, with a beautiful green color. 


Beautiful earrings are a coveted piece of jewelry, and these platinum 18K gold diamond drop earrings with 11.67-carats worth of Colombian emerald are one of the prettiest pair of earrings you can find at CJ Charles. Featuring 1.61-carats worth of diamonds, these earrings are quite the steal for the jewelry lovers out there.


Certified by the American Gemological Laboratories, the Riviere 18K gold platinum 6-carat diamond ring is a perfect engagement ring or anniversary gift for your partner. The Riviere collection is designed and created in-house at CJ Charles, and this specific ring is set with fancy yellow diamond totaling 0.63-carats to surround to coveted 6-carat emerald. Along the band, the rink is also set with 0.27-carats of colorless diamonds to finish off the look. 


Another AGL certified ring, the platinum 18K 7.44ct Colombian emerald ring is absolutely beautiful. It's a simple ring with the only gemstone being the 7.44-carat emerald, but beautiful nonetheless. It's another wonderful engagement ring, anniversary gift, or simply a perfect ring to wear for special occasions or everyday life. 

If you're interested in purchasing one of these beautiful emeralds, visit CJ Charles' website and contact us today. You're sure to be satisfied with any piece of fine emerald jewelry you select.


Written By: Vahid Morai

Vahid Moradi’s lifelong passion, dedication, and commitment for the jewelry industry led him to become the respected owner of CJ Charles Jewelers in 1988. From that moment, Moradi’s single focus in business was to become recognized as the pinnacle of value and world-class quality in the his Community. Over 34 years later, CJ Charles continues to grow and thrive as a successful, family-owned business that consistently provides exceptional service to all their clientele.

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