Top 4 Best Places to Buy Emeralds Online (2020 Review)

Looking for the perfect place to buy emerald jewelry online?

You're in the right place! In this Learning Jewelry guide I'll answer common questions like:

  • What Should You Look For When Buying Emeralds Online?
  • Are Emeralds Good For An Engagement Ring?
  • How Do You Know You're Getting A Good Deal?
  • What Are The Red Flags To Watch Out For When Buying?
best place to buy emeralds online review

Top 4 Best Places to Buy Emerald Jewelry Online

If you need the list quick, here are my top picks for finding quality lab-created diamonds from reputable online dealers. Keep reading for more information about each of these shops. 

  1. James Allen (best pricing and selection)
  2. Helzburg (best mid-range)
  3. Kay Jewelers (best for lab created emeralds online)
  4. Leibish & Co. (best high-end)

#1. Buying Emeralds At James Allen

james allen emerald gemstones


If you're looking for a nice emerald at the best price, look no further than James Allen. Using their 360 degree zoom technology, you can inspect the jardin, or the garden in which emerald inclusions grow. 

Unfortunately, they don't allow you to actually view the gemstone in the setting, so you'll have to use your imagination a bit. 

James Allen has the largest selection of emeralds, literally thousands. They are all of varying qualities. The prices of a loose emerald range from under $500 to $200,000.

James Allen 1.23 carat emerald gemstone

All of their emeralds are treated, so they will have to be re-treated over time. But we'll go over treatments later. 

James Allen has a team of gemologists ready to answer and assist you with any questions about their gemstones. They are available 24/7. They also offer a free lifetime warranty with their settings that covers routine works such as prong tightening or rhodium plating.

#2. Buying Emerald Jewelry At Helzburg

helzburg emeralds

Helzburg diamonds offers a decent collection of emerald jewelry ranging from rings to earrings and various pendant styles.

To be honest I was pleasantly surprised by the collection Helzburg has on emerald jewelry. About half of their collection comes in round cut emeralds but they do have 10 other cut styles including my favorite (princess).

Overall, a decent selection of emerald jewelry, and very high quality. What I didn't like was their online shopping experience.

I have no doubt Helzburg has high quality product, but it's very hard to use their hover-to-zoom technology on their website, so it's hard to see what I'm going to be getting until I actually receive my order.

Why I Like James Allen More: On top of the poor website tools, I also did some additional research by asking Helzburg's associates a couple of questions that I couldn't answer from their site. They were nice at first, until they realized I wasn't purchasing.

Correction, they were still nice, but I could tell they weren't thrilled to be doing extra work for a sale. James Allen has much better customer service that is available 24/7 and are helpful no matter what I need.

Read More: What are the top green gemstones for jewelry?

#3. Buying Emerald Jewelry At Kay Jewelers

kay emerald jewelry

Kay Jeweler's has both an online and in-store presence, but mainly in-store. They carry mostly lab created emeralds and set in sterling silver. You won't be able to see any emerald engagement rings in store.

If you want a natural emerald from Kay's, they're going to have to order a loose stone in. It's also not great quality and looks very opaque. But they will tell you it is high quality. 

The LeVian collection and Dana Augustine events are going to be your best bet for natural emeralds from Kay. You can request emeralds at their LeVian events, but they are very expensive.

They are high quality, but branded. This is the easiest way to get the best emeralds from Kay's. 

Why James Allen is better: James Allen carries natural emeralds that can be set in gold or platinum. They create the ring for you in a matter of days, not weeks or months. You can compare and contrast different emeralds using their 360 viewer tool. With Kay's, you gotta just close your eyes and hope for the best, which I'm not too keen about, are you?

le vian emerald bracelets

#4. Buying Emerald Jewelry At Leibish & Co

leibish & co emerald jewelry

If you're looking for the best emerald gemstones, Leibish & Co will be your go-to. They offer gorgeous untreated loose emeralds ranging from $4000 to beyond $50,000.

They are also untreated, so they'll retain that deep green color. They have a few pages of loose emeralds to choose from. You'll also know the origin of the stone.The have a variety of shapes too that can be added to either a ring setting or to create an emerald necklace. 

leibish green colombia gemstone

I like that they let you magnify the emerald to check for all its characteristics They allow you to view a video of the settings, but you can't see what your emerald will look like in it either. 

I highly encourage you to purchase from Leibish & Co, if you have the money. But for the rest of us who may not be able to spend that much, James Allen will be better suited and have a better selection for their price. 

Why James Allen is Better: Leibish and Co does have gorgeous high quality emeralds, but James Allen has more emeralds suited for the everyday buyer. They have many different loose emeralds under the minimum price of what Leibish & Co. has to offer.

FAQ When Buying Emerald Jewelry Online

What Are Emeralds?

Most people are familiar with emeralds, as they are the birthstone of May. Emerald is the green variety of the mineral beryl. It gets its green color from traces of vanadium in beryl.

It is also a sister stone to both aquamarines and morganites, which are also varieties of beryl you'll see in the jewelry market. 

Are Emeralds Good For An Engagement Ring?

Emeralds are not recommended for an engagement ring because of their brittleness and treatments.

Most jewelers will not work on chips or breaks in an emerald because they're a 7.5 on Mohs scale of hardness. Color treatments like will become damaged out in the sun which doesn't work for everyday wear.

The exception to this advice is an untreated emerald, but they are rare and very pricey. 

Mohs hardness scale

Image by the National Park Service. Public Domain.

Is Emerald Jewelry More Expensive?

It depends on where you get it from, the quality, and what it is set in. If you are looking at a 14K yellow gold Columbian emerald pendant marked as AA quality, it's going to be more expensive. But if you've got lighter green emerald with inclusions all around, it won't be as expensive. 

If you buy emerald jewelry at a physical retailer like Jared or Kays, you'll notice they don't carry natural gemstones or even set them in 14K for the most part, unless it's through their LeVian collection.

And emeralds through LeVian cost way more than they need to. Often times you'll have to order a stone in and custom make an engagement ring in 14K gold. These stores will then charge an arm and a leg for the work, and take weeks doing so. Any of the online guys we've mentioned won't do that.

What Should You Look For When Buying Emerald Online?

You've probably heard of the 4Cs by now, a diamond grading system put forth by the Gemological Institute of America. With gemstones, they follow the same basic guidelines, but without the actual grades. 

Cut

Normally, the cut is the most important C of the 4Cs. However, this is when we're talking about diamonds. With colored stones, it's a little different. There is no cut grade standard for colored stones. While you normally see emeralds faceted, they are available in cabochons as well. 

james allen emerald gemstone cuts

You can pretty much get an faceted emerald in any shape, but the emerald cut emeralds are going to have some of the best color and light return that you can buy. Whichever shape you choose, make sure it is even and not lopsided.

Color

Emeralds are most valued by their color and their color tone, hue, and saturation.

Tone is how is basically how dark or light the stone is. A colorless beryl would receive a 0.  An gemstone color tone can be Very Light, Light, Medium, Medium Dark, Dark, and Very Dark. If the emerald is too light, it's classified as green beryl. Medium to Dark is optimal for high quality emeralds. 

gem tone scale

Hue is the color that can be seen through the light in a gemstone. The GIA hue scale is red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and purple. Emeralds can be green with secondary hues of either blue, or yellow. If an emerald has a slight bluish green hue, it could be seen on a grading reports as: slbG.

This is slightly bluish green. The main color is always capitalized. Colombian emeralds are valued for their strong bluish green hues. Zambian emeralds also have bluish hues. Often times, emeralds from Zambia can be too blue and 

Colored Gemstone Hue Example

colored gemstone hue example

Hues may not be exact color

be of less value. Lastly, the saturation is the intensity of the hue. The overall grading system for gemstone takes into account the hue, tone, and saturation.

Gem Saturation Scale

Clarity

Emerald clarity is different than most gemstone clarity. Eye clean emeralds are very difficult to find, and if you do, they are very expensive. It's very normal to have visible inclusions in an emerald.

Avoid any with too many inclusions though, because they can compromise the stone, or make the stone look too cloudy and less like a faceted stone. 

There are 3 categories of clarity for colored gemstones under the GIA. Different gemstones fall under different types. They are Type I, Type II, and Type III. Type I is almost completely free of inclusions. Type II are usually included. Type III are almost always included.

Emeralds are a Type III colored gemstone, meaning that even high quality emeralds are almost always included. Each Type sub-grades of IF, VVS, VS, SI1,SI2, and I1, I2, or I3. It's very similar to the clarity scale for diamonds, but diamonds don't have types and also have VS2 and VVS2. 

Carat

Like most gemstones, carat is a subject C and it's the same with emeralds. Emeralds increase quickly on price based on their size and color. Keep in mind, it's difficult to find a high quality 2 stone than it is to find a high quality 1 carat. Sometimes you'll see loose emeralds or emerald rings referred to in carat weight or in millimeters such as 4x6. 

blue nile emerald necklace

Red Flags When Buying Emeralds Online?

If you're wanting natural emeralds, watch out for the terms "synthetic" and "simulated" Synthetic emeralds are created in a lab rather than the ground. Lab created emeralds are cheaper and have better color and clarity. They're real, but just don't have the biological history that mined emeralds do. 

You may also see jewelry being advertised as simulated emeralds or emerald in the title of the item, but then says that the stone is cubic zirconia or green zircon in the fine print. Here's an example of a stone that's not an emerald at all from Kohl's:

kohls emerald heart ring

Color and clarity treatments are pretty normal for emeralds. It's very difficult to find a beautiful, high quality emerald without treatment. If you do, it'll be very expensive.

There's a lot of different treatments that emeralds get, but there are a couple that are worth noting. Always ask about the treatment. Some places won't tell you the treatments, but give you a disclaimer, like Kay's:

kay natural emerald earrings

You always want to know what treatments were used on your emeralds, because most treatments will wear off over time. Exposure to prolonged light could alter the color of your emerald because of treatments.

Then you have to pay a jeweler to re-treat it. It's best to get an untreated emerald, but not many can afford it and it's hard to find. How to get the Best Deal When Buying Emeralds Online?

I'm going to leave you with three lasting tips to remember when buying emeralds online. 

Make sure you can see the stone

You want to look an emerald all over, looking for inclusions, chips, or color zoning. A 360 viewer should be able to identify them when buying online.

If one is not available, you may look to see if you can view it in some sort of high magnification or see it in-person at a showroom. You want to be able to observe the jardin in an emerald. 

Buy from a reputable dealer

There are many private dealers at gemstone auctions and on social media sites that are selling simulated or high treated emeralds advertised differently.

There is no overall grading report system for colored gemstones, you can obtain a certificate from the GIA stating whether there's been emerald treatments and if it's legitimate. 

Put in a protective setting

If you're wanting an emerald stone as a center stone, make sure to put in a protective ring setting. Exposed edges leave the brittle emerald even more vulnerable. Consider a ring setting like a halo, bezel, flush, or even a tension setting. I would avoid high profile cathedral solitaires. 

Emerald in Protective Tension Setting

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