Your Comprehensive Guide To Different Emerald Colours

Emerald, also called the panna stone in Hindi, has accrued an association with the colour green since it was first mined in Egypt in the 4th century. The name of the gemstone which has captured human attention up to the modern day comes from the Vulgar Latin word esmaralda, which is derived from the Ancient Greek word smaragdos, meaning “green gem”. But did you know that emeralds range from yellow-green to blue-green, and with varying darkness and hues? Become an expert in the colours of emeralds, one of the most desired coloured gemstones in the world.

Emerald grading scale

Emeralds are graded according to the gemstone grading scale, which ranges from Natural AAA (highest quality) to Natural AA (medium quality) and Natural A (lowest quality). Three characteristics are considered in this process:

  • Hue: Colour gradation, ranging from light to dark;
  • Tone: Intensity of colour determined by how much light the gemstone absorbs;
  • Saturation: Degree of the main colour in the gemstone, which is what we’ll be breaking down below. An emerald gemstone that is primarily green, exhibiting less than 15% of a secondary colour, is usually more expensive.

Gem-quality emeralds also typically have an even colour distribution throughout, meaning the colour looks similar when viewed from different angles.

necklace with gem-quality pure green emerald stone

Meaning of emerald green

While it isn’t the only green gemstone, emeralds have a prestigious position due to their relative rarity, density, and mesmerizing, transparent colour. Emeralds sourced from Colombian mines in particular are treasured for their luscious, warm viridescence.

The colour emerald green has come to symbolize harmony, prosperity, and wealth. This connection arises due to green’s correlation to nature, as well as the calming effects of the cool colour. In colour psychology, colours made up of short wavelengths, like blue, violet and green, are the easiest for our eyes to pick up. Some researchers believe that because less strain is required to perceive it, green calms the nervous system.

Bluish green emeralds

Bluish green emeralds on an emerald colour chart have a slight blue tinge. Zambian emeralds are known for leaning slightly bluish green. For some jewellers, this offers a depth and visual interest that can be desirable. Emerald gemstones sourced from the African country contain more iron content, which besides making it appear cooler-toned may contribute to its heightened hardness compared to Colombian emeralds.

Pure green emeralds

Emerald stones that are primarily green are the most sought-after. Colombian emeralds are renowned for exhibiting an intense medium to dark green saturation. A factor that contributes to a pure green colouration is even distribution of light through the gemstone uninhibited by inclusions. This means that an emerald stone should also have a high level of clarity to be classified as Green on the Continuous Hue Circle chart defined by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

three emerald stones with slightly different colours of green

Yellowish green emeralds

Finally, on the warmer end of the spectrum, there are yellowish green emeralds. In fact, any beryl stone that surpasses yellowish green into yellow territory or bluish green into blue territory can no longer be classified as emerald, but as heliodor (yellow or gold beryl) and aquamarine (blue beryl), respectively. Yellowish green emeralds have a slightly yellow undertone and are less in demand as they don’t appear as richly saturated.


The different colours of emerald or panna gemstones are determined by their hue, tone and saturation which is also affected by the number of inclusions and fractures within them. For an eco-friendlier alternative to natural emeralds, which are obtained through mining processes that hinder human health and adversely impact surrounding landscapes, we offer our signature lab-grown gemstone under BIRON®, which is an emerald that conveys a deep, pure green indistinguishable to the naked eye from the coveted Colombian emerald.

FAQ about emerald colours

What are the different emerald stone colours?

Emerald gemstones range from bluish green to yellowish green. In the middle of the scale, there are pure green emeralds, which are the most prized for their rich saturation. In order to be pure green, panna stones must have high clarity.

What impacts the colour of emeralds?

Emerald stone colour is determined by their chemical makeup, source origin, and presence of inclusions. For example, emeralds from Zambia have relatively more iron than emeralds from Colombia, which makes them more cool-toned. The purity of colour is greater when there are fewer inclusions.

How sustainable are Colombian emeralds?

Colombian emeralds are the most sought-after emeralds in the world. However, there is a limited supply of them since these precious stones require a specific formation environment and form over thousands of years. Created emeralds like those produced by BIRON® offer a sustainable alternative.

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