Are Colombian Quality Emeralds a Good Investment? – A Brief Overview

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In the wake of the housing market melt down and soft market scandals investments in commodities are on the upturn. Emeralds as precious gems have always held value in the market and Colombian quality emeralds can be a harvest asset for any serious investor.

Gems are, ounce for ounce, the most concentrated form wealth man has ever known. Emeralds are extraordinarily profitable, and like other gems easy to store and conceal. An emerald worth millions of dollars could be less than 4 inches long and easily fit in your hand. The price ceiling for high quality emeralds has recently doubled. It jumped from a standard $40,000 per carat for the highest quality emeralds to almost $90,000 per carat for a 9 carat cut Muzu International emerald, which recently sold at Christie’s Auction House in New York. Making it understandable how a one ounce fine Colombian emerald crystal could fetch millions at the current price levels.

Because of the rarity of large cut quality emeralds future prices are only expected to go up. Many investors are buying high quality emeralds to increase and maintain the value of their portfolios. While not everyone can afford investing at those levels, there are alternatives that can prove quite lucrative. As with any investment due diligence is advised before making a commitment. With gemstones, there is a confidentiality of ownership. At present gemstone and diamond transactions are not individually reported to governmental agencies. This however is subject to change, therefore it is recommend one consult a professional tax adviser for your personal reporting requirements.

Below is a brief overview to aid one in making an informed decision when considering an investment in emeralds.

Colombian emeralds, especially those, from the Muzo mines by far command the highest value in the market. Generally speaking they are known for exquisite appearance, large crystal size and few impurities. The Itoco emerald is a perfect example of this. Most emerald dealers agree overall Colombian emeralds are the finest. A high quality Colombian emerald will fetch a 10 to 20% premium over African and Brazilian of similar size and clarity.

Although high end Zambian emeralds do not command the prices of high quality Colombian emeralds, they do have the edge over Brazilian emeralds in today’s market. Zambian emeralds mostly tend to be a medium to light green with a bluish tint. Because of their bright lively color and extraordinary clarity Zambian emeralds were originally suspect to be synthetic by established dealers when first discovered in 1976. Tiffany’s was first to acknowledge Zambian emeralds as authentic in 1989. Since then their popularity has increased and jewelers and dealers alike now recognize them as natural emeralds. Zambia was the first emerald producer to provide an affordable alternative in quality emeralds. For those who can not afford the top grade Colombian emeralds, the non enhanced Zambian emerald may be a good runner up. Emeralds from Zambia are trending now for several reasons.

  • Like the cutters and polishers of Colombian emeralds, the Zambian emerald craftsmen apply the accepted way oiling using only clear oils.
  • Although Zambian emeralds as a rule do not command the prices of high quality Colombian emeralds most are good jewelry quality and some exceptionally large stone bring close to premium prices.

In the early 1960′s vanadium emeralds were discovered in Brazil. Being a form of beryl, but not (chromium) most dealers and gemologists refused to recognize them as emeralds and categorized them as green beryl. After three years of fighting for acceptance in 1963 G.I.A issued a lab report identifying vanadium-colored beryl as natural emeralds. 

Five Tips for Smart Investing

Think Big:

As with most gems large high quality crystals are far more valuable than smaller ones with the same qualities.

Point of Origin:

Large high quality emeralds no matter where they are mined are a good investment, but Colombian emeralds will return a higher resale premium.


While a deep green is usually considered a good commercial grade, that does not necessarily make it a good investment grade emerald. Brightness or ‘fire’ is an extremely important consideration as well as color when choosing investment grade emeralds.


The type of inclusions effect an emeralds value. Investment grade emeralds will not have internal fractures, carbon build ups (internal black spots) and will have a good loupe clarity. Translucent to opaque stones, although they often make for beautiful jewelry, should be strictly avoided when investing.


Clean emeralds over three carats often sell for more than comparable sized diamonds. When considering color and clarity its best to choose clean emeralds with a medium color over heavily included emeralds with perfect green color for optimum investment value.


Over all it is up to the individual in choosing an investment. However, being a rare commodity, high quality emeralds certainly can increase the value of ones portfolio. Although Colombian quality emeralds often are a very good investment it should be noted; this article is merely an overview and does not reflect after the fact market changes nor guarantee a return on ones investment.

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