Emerald Clarity


How Clarity Affects the Value of Emerald

Unlike most gemstones, clarity is not relatively important in determining value of emerald. It is defintely not as important as color. This is because inclusions are so common in natural emerald and are not thought to impede its beauty.

Good clarity is still desirable, however to the extent that light is able to play inside the stone, and it is transparent. While perfect clarity is not necessary to make an emerald exceptionally valuable, an absolutely opaque emerald is not worth much: in fact even the best color of emerald, if it is completely opaque, can no longer be considered precious.

Here are some illustrations of how different levels of clarity appear in emerald:

Terrible Clarity: These emeralds have so many inclusions (cracks, whispy white particles, etc.) that we cannot see into the stones at all. These are not “gem quality” emeralds for this reason. They are not very valuable Poor Clarity: This emerald cabochon is not very transparent: light does not play inside the stone because of many very small inclusions. Typical Clarity: Most emeralds you find in jewelry look more or less like this. They are very included but transparent enough to catch some light now and then and give you a little bit of sparkle. Perfect Clarity: Here is an example of a perfectly clear emerald. We can see all the way into the stone: there is no “haziness” nor visible inclusions. Good clarity allows the stone to be faceted: maximizing reflected light and sparkle.

If an emerald has been made into a bead or a cabochon, you know the clarity is poor. (For more info on different ways of cutting gemstones, see general gemstone information). As a rule, only the highest quality gems are faceted.


There are certain kinds of inclusions or impurities that make an emerald more valuable. One example is the 3 fold inclusions or garden inclusions found in a few Colombian emeralds.

This is a microscopic photo of an emerald with “garden inclusions.” These emeralds are rare and can be very valuable to collectors.  The reason is that the 3-phase inclusions are proof that the emerald is from the Muzo mine in Colombia – a source that is famous for producing the finest emeralds in the world, and is also becoming depleted.

Here is an example of a 2-phase inclusion. These are common in emeralds as well (though rare in gemstones generally) and can be an indication that the emerald was mined in India.

How COLOR affects the value of an emerald
How CUT affects the value of an emerald
How CLARITY affects the value of an emerald
How SIZE affects the value of an emerald
Emerald treatments and synthetics
Emerald meaning and symbology
Summary of how to value emeralds

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