Emeralds are one of the most gorgeous and well-known gemstones that exist in the world. The first known emerald mines were in Egypt millennia ago, and they have been an incredible gemstone choice that showcases value and luxury ever since.
However, you may have also heard of green beryl. Some people believe that green beryl and emeralds are the same, but they are not. Let us dive into the differences and similarities between an emerald gem and green beryl.
Are emeralds and green beryl the same?
No. Emeralds and green beryl are both considered part of the beryl mineral family, but emeralds have a few key differences that make them distinct and more valuable than green beryl.
What is an emerald?
Emeralds are a green to a bluish-green variety of beryl. As the May birthstone, they have a rich, vivid green color that is highly desirable. An emerald gets its color from chromium and/or vanadium trace elements, which makes it different from lighter green beryl.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) explains that the emerald is the “green” standard among colored stones and has been for thousands of years. It shares the same chemistry as beryl minerals, which means that they have the basic chemical components of: Be3Al2Si6O18.
An emerald can have traces of iron that make it slightly yellow. However, it will still have that key darker hue that comes from chromium/vanadium.
What is a green beryl?
Green beryl comes in the color of light green and is sometimes referred to as pale green beryl. While all emeralds are green beryl because they belong to the same beryl mineral species, not all green beryl are emeralds.
Green beryl get their green from the presence of iron trace elements. However, light-green-colored green beryl do not have the same trace elements as emeralds. This means that you should not find any vanadium or chromium in green beryl, even if it looks green at first glance.
Are there other variants of beryl?
Yes. Beryl can come in many colors: green (emerald), aquamarine (blue), morganite (pink), red, goshenite (colorless), pezzottaite (pinkish red to pink), and heliodor (yellow). Emeralds are by far the most popular beryl variety because even those who are not interested in minerals and precious metals know of emeralds.
Is an emerald worth more than a green beryl?
Yes. Natural emerald has a higher value than natural green beryl. Emeralds can easily go for thousands of dollars, and many world-famous emeralds cannot be priced because of their historical and cultural value!
On the other end of the green spectrum, pale green beryl prices are more easily capped. You can even buy a loose green beryl for under a hundred dollars.
The issue with green beryl is that they simply are not vividly green enough. Their colors are often less saturated, duller, and not as appealing to the eye. Meanwhile, emeralds are saturated, bright, and beautiful. The darker green of emeralds gives them a coveted spot in the jewelry world.
If you want to buy green jewelry, real emerald jewelry is likely the best choice. The color standards are high, and the emerald value is superior to the pale green beryl value. Light green beryl earrings may be cheaper than natural emerald earrings, but they will not usually look as good.
How to tell if an emerald is real?
When buying an emerald, it is important that you can be confident that you are buying a natural emerald stone that is real. Whether you’re looking for loose emeralds or ones that are already set in jewelry, authenticity is crucial. But what makes a real emerald? How do you verify the authenticity of an emerald?
Check for inclusions
An inclusion is anything that is trapped inside another mineral. Inclusions help check for emerald quality and authenticity. Emerald inclusions can come in the form of crystals within the emerald, gas bubbles, liquid, or fractures. With a 10x microscope, you can easily check for inclusions. Synthetic and imitation emeralds usually will not have the following:
- Fissures – Lines and fractures within an emerald can be fairly visible, even to the naked eye
- Chips – If you are buying a non-cut emerald, there will likely be chips and cavities along the crystal that reveal its flaws
- Spirals – If there are water droplets trapped in the emerald as it forms, you may see spirals in the gem
- Color zoning – While emeralds have a vibrant, dark green, they can also have uneven color zoning, which means small splashes of other colors like blue and yellow. If your gemstone’s color is evenly distributed and has no obvious color zoning, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is synthetic – it may simply be a high-value emerald!
- Fingerprints – Other than spirals, trapped liquid during the crystal formation process can also lead to fingerprints
Inspect the hue of the emerald
Since the value difference between a non-emerald beryl and a true emerald can be immense, it is a good idea to check your emerald’s color. You can compare the hue to other, less desirable beryl. Some of the most desirable emeralds are pure green and bluish green. Highly transparent emeralds also fetch extremely high prices as they are very prized.
Does the emerald sparkle?
Some gemstones sparkle if you hold them up to a light. However, authentic emeralds usually do not. There should not be any sort of intense flash of rainbow colors if you hold them under a light.
If you shine a blacklight onto the gemstone, you can see the resulting fluorescent colors. UV light accentuates a pure-green or blue-green hue when you shine it onto a natural emerald. However, synthetic emeralds will have a dark red fluorescence, and an imitation stone that is not an emerald will likely show a suspicious yellow or brown undertone.
Learn more about emeralds
From deep emerald lore and emerald ethics to fun gemstone trivia, we cover all sorts of emerald-related content. Learn more about these beautiful gemstones and keep up with the latest emerald news via our blog.