Emerald vs. Jade: Which is Better?

Emerald vs. Jade: Which is Better?

Are you curious about the distinctions between emeralds and jade? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

Emerald vs. Jade

In this guide, I will provide answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding these stunning green gemstones including:

  • Does Emerald Make a Good Engagement Ring Stone?
  • Is Jade Pricey?
  • Is Emerald Created in a Lab Real Emerald?

Origin – Emerald vs. Jade

Emerald: A Precious Stone with Rich History and Global Demand

Emeralds are the epitome of luxury and elegance in the jewelry industry. They are one of the core precious stones, along with diamonds, sapphires, and rubies. Emeralds are in high demand due to their unique beauty and rarity.

Emeralds are a type of mineral called beryl, and their color ranges from light to dark green. Other popular colored stones from the beryl family include morganite and aquamarine. The first emerald deposits were discovered as early as 500 BC, and they have been used in jewelry since ancient times.

In ancient times, emeralds were not cut into faceted gemstones but remained in their hexagonal crystal shape. Early emerald jewelry consisted of drilled beads or cabochons. Cleopatra was known to have an emerald mine in Egypt and was often adorned with emerald jewelry.

Bishop, Heber R. The Heber R. Bishop Collection of Jade and other Hard Stones. Handbook no. 10. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1909, p. 53.

Today, emeralds can be natural or lab-created. The most notable emerald deposits come from Zambia, Columbia, and Brazil, but they can be found in many other countries, including the United States.

Jade: A Beautiful and Highly Prized Mineral

Jade is the collective name for two minerals: nephrite and jadeite. Jadeite is the rarest and more prized of the two. Jade has a rich history and cultural significance, as it has been used by ancient civilizations such as the Maori, the Chinese, and Mesoamerican cultures like the Aztecs.

Jade stones were often carved into figurines, ornamental designs, or beads. Even today, jade is not faceted but is still highly valued as an art form. The intricate and beautiful designs carved into jade stones are highly sought after and prized by collectors.

China and Myanmar are the two most well-known sources of jadeite. The US abolished its embargo on jadeite from Myanmar in 2016.

Nephrite jade (Precambrian) (Granite Mountains, Fremont County, Wyoming, USA)

The other green gemstone kind of jade, nephrite has similar symbolism and applications to jadeite but is more common and less expensive. China, Canada, and Russia are among the nations where nephrite is found.

Appearance – Emerald vs. Jade

Emerald Color: Distinctive and Beautiful

Emeralds are a variety of beryl, but not all green beryl can be considered emerald. To be called an emerald, the green beryl must meet specific coloring standards, with better tone and saturation than the misty sea green or translucent light green color of regular green beryl.

green beryl – Cleveland Museum of Natural History” by Tim Evanson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The color of natural emerald comes from chromium impurities, and the hues of emeralds can range from yellowish-green to bluish-green. The saturation of the color should be richly green, and lower saturation results in a grayish-green color.

Emerald Optics and Treatments: Common Inclusions and the “Jardin”

Inclusions are very common in emeralds and are referred to as the “jardin,” which means “garden” in French. The inclusions resemble vines in a garden growing within the stone, and they do not impact the price as much as they do for other faceted stones.

Clear emeralds are rare and, therefore, more expensive. However, emeralds with black inclusions are unappealing and should be avoided. When purchasing an emerald, a beautiful jardin can add to the gemstone’s attractiveness, even if it has lower clarity.

And here is an unattractive emerald with graining and black included.

The majority of natural emeralds in the jewelry market have received treatments to alter their color or inclusions. While not all emeralds are treated, it’s important to know the treatments used on an emerald before purchasing it.

A grading report from a legitimate grading lab like the GIA can tell you if the emerald has been treated. Different treatments have different implications. For instance, coatings on an emerald have to be reapplied, while some heat-treated emeralds may alter with additional heat, and others are permanent. Knowing the treatment can help you make an informed decision when purchasing an emerald.

Emeralds Imitations and Synthetics

Lab-created emeralds are real emeralds that are formed in a lab instead of the ground. Because they can be produced under controlled conditions, scientists are able to create eye-clean versions with deep green colors more easily than natural emeralds. However, lab-created emeralds are also significantly cheaper than natural emeralds.

Emerald imitations are materials that are made to look like emeralds but are not actual emeralds. Some examples of emerald imitations include green glass, green cubic zirconia, and green synthetic spinel. While they may look like emeralds, they are significantly less expensive and do not have the same properties or value as natural or lab-created emeralds.


It is important to note that “light emeralds” do not exist. Some gem sellers may try to pass off green beryl as an imitation emerald, but the price difference between the two can be significant. There are also other green gems that are commonly confused with or passed off as real emeralds, such as green sapphire, green jadeite, peridot, and even green glass.

Jade Color

Jade and onyx are often associated with green and black respectively, but these gemstones occur in a range of colors beyond their commonly perceived hues.

Jadeite, for instance, can come in various shades of green, but it can also be colorless, white, red, black, purple, orange, yellow-green, honey brown, brown, and even blue. Nephrite, on the other hand, has a more limited color range, including milky beige (also known as mutton fat jade), green, brown, grayish brown, dark brown, yellow, yellow-green, and black.

Black nephrite jade ventifact (Precambrian; Granite Mountains, Wyoming, USA)” by James St. John is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Jade Optics and Treatment

Due to its lack of faceting, inclusions are not a significant factor in the value of jade. Imperial green, which is only found in jadeite, is considered the most valuable color, while high-quality green jade can range from opaque to translucent.

Jadeite carved pendant (G 9221 00)” by greyloch is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

As for treatments, jade is often treated with impregnation to improve its color or texture. This treatment can be stable, although it can wear off over time, affecting the appearance of the stone.

Jadeite jade that is not of imperial green quality is often color-enhanced, with the most common method being dyeing. This treatment lowers the value but can make the color resemble imperial jade. It’s important to ask your jeweler if the jade has been treated.

Nephrite is denser than jadeite and is not typically dyed, but it can still undergo other color enhancements such as bleaching, heating, and infusion. Both nephrite and jadeite can be treated in this manner.

Jade Imitations and Synthetics

Lab-created jade, whether nephrite or jadeite, is not currently available. However, there are many imitations of jade that can be mistaken for the real thing. Some of these imitations include serpentine, dyed chalcedony and quartz, aventurine, malachite, prehnite, and glass.

The most common and popular imitation of jade is glass, but other opaque stones like carnelian and jasper can also be used to imitate different color varieties of jade. It is important to be aware of these imitations when shopping for jade, especially if you are looking for a specific color or quality.

Price and Value – Emerald vs. Jade

The primary factor that affects the price of emeralds is their color. The most valuable emeralds come from Colombia, with the highest quality stones having a bluish-green hue and a secondary blue tone of 10-15%. These top color Colombian emeralds can cost between $3200 to $9000 per 1 carat.


Emeralds with Very Good to Good color quality can range in price from $900 to $8000. Prices for emeralds can vary widely, from under $1000 to over $50,000.

Emeralds are a popular choice for alternative engagement rings, but they are not recommended for people with an active lifestyle as they rank 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale and require more maintenance than sapphires, rubies, or diamonds to keep them in good condition.

The price range for emeralds can be quite broad due to a variety of factors that affect their value. The size and weight of the stone, as well as its clarity and any treatments it may have undergone, can all play a role in determining its price. In addition, emeralds with unique features or characteristics, such as those with rare color variations or those that have been owned by famous individuals, can also command higher prices.

Unlike emerald, jade is not valued solely based on its quality and color, but also on the artistry of the gem carver and the size of the piece. The more intricate and larger the jade carving, the more valuable it is. Thus, thicker jade jewelry pieces such as bangles or pendants with large jade gemstones can be very expensive.

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In addition to its value as a work of art, jade is also highly durable with no cleavage, unlike other semi-precious gemstones like emerald. Although emeralds have imperfect cleavage, it is not the sole factor affecting their value, which is primarily determined by their color and quality.


Here are some bullet points highlighting the differences between emerald and jade:



  • Jade is a durable gemstone that is difficult to break
  • Always ask if jade is dyed before purchasing
  • Jade cannot be faceted into a transparent gemstone
  • Jade is commonly used for pendants and other jewelry, but not for engagement rings



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