gemstones have been beloved throughout human history, evoking rebirth, renewal and spring. The word “emerald” comes from the Greek word “smaragdos,” which means green stone. Variations of its rich color suggest soothing, lush green gardens. The Roman Emperor Nero is said to have used slices of emerald placed before his eyes to view gladiator fights.

Emerald is a variety of the beryl species and is related to aquamarine and green beryl.

Emerald is the May birthstone and the gemstone for 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.


Emeralds range from deep greens to a green-blue hue.


Emerald gemstones can be cut into many shapes and sizes, but are most often cut in an “Emerald cut,” a rectangular step cut. Emerald is the only gemstone to have a cut named after it.


The first known emerald mines were found in Egypt. Since then, Colombia has been a leading source of emeralds for centuries. Other sources include Afghanistan, Brazil, China, Madagascar, Russia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Emerald gemstones have also been found in North America in Hidden, North Carolina, and the Yukon Territories in Canada among other locations.


Emerald has a hardness of 7.5-8.0 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.


Fractures often occur in emeralds and some treatments have been developed to diminish the appearance of these fractures, improve the color and increase the transparency of the gem. These treatments include filling fractures with oil, paraffin, resins or polymers. Any treatments should be disclosed to the buyer.


Emerald can can be manufactured in a lab rather than mined. This information needs to be clearly disclosed to the buyer.

Care & Cleaning

  • To minimize scratching and wear, store each piece of fine jewelry separately in a soft cloth or padded container.
  • Emerald jewelry should not be exposed to heat or pressure, which could affect the fillings.
  • Emerald jewelry is best cleaned with warm, sudsy water and a tightly woven microfiber or other soft cloth.
  • Take all your fine jewelry to a professional jeweler at least twice a year for a thorough cleaning and inspection.

Find Emerald pieces at a trustworthy, JA Member Jewelry store in our Find a Jeweler directory.

Content © GIA. Image © Robert Weldon/GIA

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