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?
Top 4 Best Places to Buy Emerald Jewelry Online
1. James Allen
If you're looking for a nice emerald at the best price, look no further than James Allen. Using their 360° 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.
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. Brilliant Earth
Brilliant Earth has a medium-sized collection of loose emeralds, but the inventory is frequently changing because people keep buying. At this point in time, they have around 50 loose emerald gemstones.
There's a mixed variation of shapes among both natural and lab created emeralds. The natural emeralds are treated by oiling, so make sure you don't steam clean. You'll find more about emerald treatments in the FAQ.
They have their natural emeralds divided in titles. Some natural ones remain untitled, while others are Premium and Super Premium. Just from looking, there's a few emeralds that I think don't really differ between unnamed and premium, but I can definitely tell the Super Premium from the Premium.
Many of the premium emeralds are translucent, not transparent. Translucent is more opaque.
Not only do they carry loose emeralds, but they've also got a small collection of preset emerald jewelry too. These include mainly earrings and necklaces, like this unique olive branch lab grown emerald and diamond pendant below:
Brilliant Earth prides themselves on ethics and gives back to the environment and community. All of their packaging is eco friendly, even down to the wooden jewelry box they give you.
As for warranties, they have the Brilliant Benefits Extended Service Plan, or the ESP for short. It's similar to the ESP at Kay's and Jared, but Brilliant Earth's warranty is up in three years. It's still based on a sliding scale, but you have to renew it if you want to keep it covered.
You also won't be able to add it if you're only shopping online without a diamond expert. You'll also want to give them a call after you purchase to have them add that on there. Super inconvenient I know, but maybe they'll change it in the future.
Why I Like James Allen More: James Allen's lifetime warranty covers routine maintenance for FREE. There's no activating it, having to call, paying for renewal. You have it automatically.
3. Blue Nile
Emeralds at Blue Nile don't come loose, but preset in different jewelry pieces. I like their selection because it's perfect for any looking for high quality emerald jewelry. Now, if you're looking for cheaper pieces under $500, you won't find a ton of options at Blue Nile.
All of their emerald jewelry is natural and set in either gold or platinum. If you're looking for rose gold, they only seem to have options in yellow or white. Blue Nile would be a good choice if you're looking to spend the same amount you would on a 1 carat diamond engagement ring on an emerald instead.
And for those of you with wallets bursting at the seams (we're jealous), you have the option of purchasing from Blue Nile's Extraordinary collection, featuring the best of Blue Nile with some hefty prices. Check out this gorgeous emerald, sapphire, and diamond ring valued at a staggering $52,000:
Gemstones from this collection will be natural and untreated while other outside the collection may be treated to enhance color.
Blue Nile is one of the oldest names in online jewelry, so they've got a great reputation for customer service and quality products. The thing they don't have is a warranty like James Allen.
Blue Nile gives you a manufacturer's warranty. This is just a fancy way of saying that if it breaks because of a flaw in the design, they'll replace it. Routine maintenance like rhodium plating white gold or tightening stones will have to be done out of pocket.
Why I Like James Allen More: While Blue Nile has some gorgeous pieces, I wish I had some loose emeralds to choose from. Personally, I feel more confident in buying jewelry I have more of a say in. Emeralds are known to have inclusions, so I'd rather be able to look under a viewer like James Allen's to really observe the characteristics to make sure I like where the inclusions are located.
4. Leibish & Co
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. They have a variety of shapes too that can be added to either a ring setting or to create an emerald necklace.
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.
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.
FAQs 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 these 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.
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 green gemstone types, they follow the same basic guidelines, but without the actual grades.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Read also: Emerald vs Jade: What's the Difference?
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 be of less value.
Colored Gemstone Hue Example
Lastly, the saturation is the intensity of the hue. The overall grading system for gemstone takes into account the hue, tone, and saturation.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.