Emerald vs Green Garnet: Which is More Valuable?

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Wondering about the differences between emeralds and green garnets?

Perfect, I got you! In this post, we'll dive in and compare these two gorgeous green stones and answer popular questions like: 

Emerald vs Green Garnet
  • Are green garnets rare?
  • Are synthetic emeralds rare?
  • Why does the price range for emeralds vary so much?

Main Differences Between Emerald vs Green Garnets

  • Emeralds are common, whereas green garnets are rare.
  • Emeralds are almost always treated, whereas green garnets are almost always untreated.
  • Emeralds come in medium to dark tones, whereas green garnets can be light green to dark green.
  • Emeralds are precious stones, whereas green garnets are semi-precious.

Emerald vs Green Garnet Origins

Their colors may be the same, but both emeralds and green garnet come from very different places. Let's check it out.


An emerald is the most popular green gemstone chosen for an engagement ring due to its striking color and rich history. Emeralds have been around for ages, just like garnets. But emeralds are one of the four most precious gemstones in the world alongside sapphires, rubies, and diamonds.

Emeralds come from the gemstone family of the mineral beryl. Beryl is responsible for other popular gemstones like morganites and aquamarines. Emerald is the dark green variety of beryl, not to be confused with green beryl, the light green variety. 

Emerald jewelry has been a favorite throughout history to royals and people of high status. One of the most notable ones being the beautiful and elegant Cleopatra. Though emeralds rarely come from Egyptian deposits anymore, they are found in a number of different countries including:

  • Colombia
  • Afghanistan
  • Brazil
  • Zambia
  • Ethiopia

Green Garnets

Most people are familiar with garnet and know it as the red colored January birthstone. Though red garnets are predominantly available in fine jewelry retail stores, other varieties of the garnet family go through life virtually unseen.

Did you know that the garnet mineral group can be a variety of different colors? Not only that, but there are different blends and species of garnet that fall under the same color variety. Green garnets are a great example of this.

Different garnet species can produce green garnet gemstones. The most well-known green garnet stones are:

  • Demantoid Garnet
  • Grossular Garnet
  • Tsavorite Garnet
  • Hydrogrossular Garnet
  • Uvarovite
  • Topazolite
  • Mali Garnet

Due to their rarity, a lot of people don't know about the existence of these green colored gems. Green garnets are found in a few places in the world including:

  • Tanzania
  • Kenya
  • Madagascar



Grading the color of emeralds can be very complex, which is one of the reason why their prices have such a large range. Faceted emeralds are usually translucent to transparent, with the best stones being the latter.

Fine color emeralds should have medium tone with 10-15% bluish green secondary hues. These are the traditional look for the coveted Colombian emeralds. Other emeralds may appear apple green, dark green, or a bright blue green color. Emeralds may also have yellowish green secondary hues which aren't as valuable, but still appealing to many.

Colombian Emerald, No Oil

Blue Green Zambian Emerald

Emeralds are one of the few gemstones whose quality isn't highly impacted by the presence of inclusions. Of course, natural emeralds with high clarity are rare and expensive. But the type of inclusions in emeralds are described as an aesthetic.

They are give the nickname "jardin", which is French for "garden." This was to describe the way the inclusions in an emerald looked like a web of vines growing inside the emerald crystal.

The best shape to show the emerald green shade of this gorgeous May birthstone is the emerald cut. The flat table and wide surface area of emerald cut stones are best for revealing its color distribution and saturation.

Natural untreated emeralds are extremely rare. You can expect that all majority of natural emerald gemstones in the jewelry market have been treated to improve color or clarity. Some gemstone treatments are considered acceptable and don't have a big impact on price or value. Heat treated or irradiated emerald treatments are considered normal and permanent.

But not all emerald treatments are okay. One of the most common emerald treatments is oiling. Oiling can greatly improve the color of emeralds, but it isn't permanent. There are different levels of oiling. Oiling has to be redone by a jeweler once it fades, so its better to choose emeralds that don't have heavy oiling.

High quality blue green untreated emeralds are the most rare and valuable.

Synthetics and Imitations

Synthetic emeralds are different from treated natural emeralds. These are emeralds that have been created in a laboratory environment instead of mined from the earth. Scientists are able to re-create emeralds by simulating the conditions needed to produce emeralds.

Lab Created Emerald

Natural Treated Emerald

By adding trace elements of chromium and vanadium, they are able to produce synthetic emeralds with the same properties as mined emeralds. Additionally, most emeralds produced in a lab have much better clarity and transparency than natural transparent emerald gems. Instead of the traditional inclusions of vines, lab created emeralds generally have smaller needle like impurities in their crystals. These aren't visible to the naked eye.

Other green gems and green colored materials are often used to simulate emeralds. Glass and green colored cubic zirconia (CZ) are the most common simulants. Other stones may be tsavorite garnet, demantoid garnet, epidote, malachite, or green sapphire. 

Green Cubic Zirconia Simulated Emerald for $15 on Amazon

Green Garnet

As you can see, there's a lot of green garnet species. Different green garnet varieties will produce different green hues. Demantoid garnets get their green hues from chromium. Tsavorite garnets get their emerald green color from trace amounts of chromium and vanadium, just like a real emerald stone.

Demantoid Garnet credit: the justified sinner 

Both Mali garnet and topazolite garnets produce a yellow green color. For Mali garnets, the yellowish green stones are the most valuable. Hydrogrossular garnets produce opaque light green gemstones that can imitate jade colors.

One of the biggest reasons people choose green garnet stones is because they're a more affordable alternative to emeralds. Demantoid garnets and tsavorite garnet are similar colored gems to emeralds. Tsavorite garnet has emerald green hues with perfect saturation to simulate and can have the 10-15% bluish green hues that Colombian emeralds have. These can only be found in East Africa.

Tsavorite Garnet

Grossular garnets come in a rainbow of different colors, including a prized light mint green hue. These rare and valuable green garnets are called Merelani mint garnets.

But the rarest green garnet is uvarovite. You'll pretty much never find this green gems as faceted stones. The only way they appear in a mineral specimen formation called druzy crystals. Their deep green colors are gorgeous and can also be a bright green stone too.

Merelani Mint Garnet credit: Robert M. Lavinsky

Druzy Uvarovite & Rare Cubic Crystal  credit: géry60 

As far as brilliance goes, you can expect green garnets to sparkle because of their high refractive index. This is one of the advantages they have over emeralds. The fire is best seen in light green and bright green hues. Dark green gemstones will detract from the brilliance. But if dark green hues are your thing, just be aware that's the trade you make. They still make gorgeous green gems.

The clarity of garnets change within the species and varieties. Red garnets often have high clarity, whereas orange garnets have lots of inclusions. Green garnets fall somewhere between. Demantoid garnets are known for having interesting horsetail inclusions that give the green stone character instead of detracting.

Unlike emeralds, garnets are rarely ever subjected to gemstone treatments. In fact, their crystal structure creates a crusty residue when heated like many other gemstones are.

Synthetics and Imitations

Lab created green garnets are available, but generally at places like Etsy. Being a semi precious stone, you're not likely to find natural or synthetic green garnets in fine jewelry stores. Lab created green garnet is going to be very cheap and have all the same properties as their natural versions.

Green garnets are beautiful green gemstones in their own right, but many choose them to imitate the look of an emerald. There are other gemstone and gem materials that can be crafted to imitate a green garnet. It's not often another green gemstone impersonates a green garnet, but more likely to be green glass or radiant green colored cubic zirconia.

Green Colored Glass Imitation for Green Garnet or Emeralds

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Emerald vs Green Garnet: Price

Determining the value and price of an emerald is very difficult, which is why they have emerald specialists to do so. If you're paying a high price for a loose natural emerald, it's absolutely essential to have a gemstone certificate verifying the quality of your emerald from a reliable laboratory, like GIA certification. This can help you make sure you don't get ripped off as well as disclose any treatments that have been done to your emerald.

Emeralds are the highest prices when transparent with the bluish green hues of Colombian emeralds without treatments. A treated emerald stone like this would go between $9,000 to $13,000 per carat at best clarity. On the other hand, a 3 carat Colombian emerald with no oil treatment would go for $82,000.

Emeralds that aren't transparent and have more translucency can go for around $500 for a one carat stone. These are always treated to improve color, but are still real emeralds.

Though all green garnets are considered rare, they don't come at the same kind of prices high quality emeralds do. The price will increase quickly as the carat weight increases with green garnet. Green garnets with a saturated green color and balanced tone are most desirable.

Demantoid garnets weighing 1 carat can go for around $1200. High quality well-cut demantoids can go for more.

High quality tsavorite garnets can run around $800 for a one carat green stone. One with bluish green hues can go for more.

One carat mint green Merelani garnets can go for around $200. Quite a bargain for a rare shade of green garnet. Other yellow green grossular garnets can go for around $600 for a 1 carat green gemstone.

Finally, the extremely rare uvarovite comes in at the very affordable $2 per carat of apple green druzy crystal specimens.

Emerald vs Green Garnet Value

An emerald engagement ring is a popular gemstone alternative to diamonds. However, it's not as durable. Still, it's possible for emeralds to last years and years with the proper care and protection.

You don't have to worry about heat or sunlight damaging emeralds, though we don't really recommend wearing any precious gemstones or semi precious gemstones in prolonged sunlight. They also have a better scratch resistance than green garnets.

The scratch resistance of a gem is measured on the mineral scale of hardness. Emeralds are considered a hard stone, but not a particularly hard gemstone like a diamond, sapphire, or ruby gemstone. On the Mohs hardness scale, emeralds rate a 7.5-8. These will hold up better to dust than green garnets.


Image by the National Park Service. Public Domain.

The biggest caveat in emerald wearability is going to be the clarity and treatments that have been done to the stone. For example, highly oiled emeralds are going to look a lot worse as the oil fades when you wear it every day. Make sure the proper maintenance is done to take care of your emerald ring.

Common inclusions in other gemstones don't have a big impact on durability so long as they aren't surface inclusion, often called blemishes. The same is true for a diamond. Emeralds have so many inclusions (unless you have an expensive high clarity emerald or a less expensive transparent lab emerald), it can leave vulnerabilities to chipping and cleaving if accidentally struck.

For this reason, it's advisable to make sure the corners of your emerald engagement rings are properly protected with a prong setting or bezel setting. Low impact jewelry like emerald earrings or emerald necklaces don't have to worry about this so much.

Just like every other detail of the garnet family, the overall durability of a garnet engagement ring depends on the variety. As a whole, garnets are considered to have good wearability. Garnet engagement rings can last for years and year if the proper care and maintenance is done for the stone and its setting.

On the Mohs scale, green garnets can range from 6.5-7. At a 7, they meet the necessary scratch resistance to household dust and dirt. However, most people won't be able to know where in this range their particular garnet lies due to the complex structure of the garnet gemstone species. So, it should still be cleaned regularly and stored properly.

Conclusion: Two Fabulous Green Gemstones

Both emeralds and green garnets are beautiful and unique, each in their own way. From the small range of hues of emeralds to the many different hues of green garnets, there's a green stone for you.

Green garnets are more rare than emeralds, but emerald quality is much harder to judge and comes in a wider price range. Both green gems are suitable for every day wear, though extra care should be given to emerald engagement rings with protective settings.

On the other hand, green garnets don't have the same scratch resistance as emerald gems, so they should be properly cleaned on a regular basis if worn often.

I hope you've learned the differences between emeralds and green garnets as well as the pros and cons of each stone. You should feel confident in knowing the difference between green garnets and emeralds. 

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