Diamonds Vs. Emeralds: What’s the Difference?

People love to wear precious gemstones, like wearing diamonds on special occasions such as weddings and marriage anniversaries. But if ever there was a competition between diamonds and other stones for popularity, emeralds can give them a run for their money! 

Emeralds are green or yellowish green in color (hence the name), whereas diamonds are clear. Their most common shape is round brilliant, but emeralds usually come in rectangular shapes because they are too brittle for round cuts.

The two can only be confused if the diamond is greenish in color. However, colored diamonds are extremely rare. In most cases, it is easy to look and tell the difference between the two. In this article, I’ll talk all about the key differences between these two popular gemstones.

Diamonds Vs. Emeralds What's the Difference

Comparing Diamonds To Emeralds On 8 Parameters

Diamonds are well known for their fire, sparkle, and brilliance. Emeralds are famous because they are rarely available in nature and can sometimes be even more expensive than diamonds. The vivid green color of an emerald can be absolutely mesmerizing. 

There are a lot of differences between diamond and emerald gemstones in terms of color, appearance, cut, brilliance, and hardness. Let’s discuss them below.

1. Composition

The emerald gemstone is made from Berillium aluminum silicate and is usually green because of chromium or vanadium. 

Diamonds are composed of 99.95 percent carbon, and the rest is trace elements. In fact, the color of “colored” diamonds comes from impurities in an otherwise perfect structure of carbon molecules.

2. Hardness 

The hardness of emeralds is rated 7.5-8 on Mohr’s scale, whereas if we talk about diamonds, they are scaled as a perfect 10. As is well known, diamonds are the toughest substance on earth, and emeralds can’t beat them on this parameter.

Also read Why Are Diamonds So Hard?

3. Inclusions

All colored stones are graded based on four parameters (the 4C’s): color, carat weight, clarity, and cut. The clarity is one parameter where you can distinguish differences between the diamond and emerald gemstones. 

Inclusions In Diamonds

Inclusions are impurities present in the gemstone. A diamond can get contaminants when it is subjected to high temperature and pressure during formation. In fact, diamonds with zero inclusions are rarely found in nature. 

The thing is – you cannot notice inclusions with the naked eye. You need a strong microscope to see these inclusions. A diamond with more inclusions has lower clarity and less value in the market. But if a diamond has fewer inclusions, it will have high clarity grade and is sold at a higher price. 

There are numerous types of diamond inclusions. For instance, pinpoint inclusions or tiny black spots on the diamond are the most common ones. Additionally, you may find small cracks or small holes in the diamond. 

Reputed gemstone laboratories have graded the clarity of diamonds into numerous grades. If the diamond clarity grade is FL, then it is completely flawless, and no blemishes are seen in the diamond. But if it is graded as I1, I2, and I3, then inclusions are seen in diamonds in a magnificent microscope. 


Inclusions In Emeralds

Now let’s talk about emeralds. They are naturally formed in the earth and are created by high pressure and temperature. The inclusions in emeralds differ from one location to another. But an emerald with low inclusions is rare and considered more valuable in the market. 

There are usually more inclusions in emeralds as compared to diamonds. But they are not given as much priority in pricing as they are in diamonds. The naked eye can see these inclusions easily. Some of them get hidden because of the green color. 

The visible inclusions in emeralds help gemologists understand the origin of the gemstone. For instance, if the emerald has three-phase inclusions, it originated from Columbia. In fact, most emeralds in the world come from Columbia.

Similarly, if the gemstone has two-phase inclusions, it indicates that it originated from India. The inclusions can be of numerous types, like lines running parallel to each other or cavities in emeralds.

4. Price

Most people think that the price of diamonds is relatively higher compared to that of emeralds because emeralds are brittle. But emeralds can be at par with diamonds and may even be more expensive. 

For instance, if a diamond has an I1 clarity grade with an M color grade, its price will be lower than an emerald with a similar carat.  But if the emerald has many inclusions or impurities, its price will be lower. 

The price of a diamond or an emerald depends on various factors like the cut quality, clarity grade, color grade, and carat weight. You cannot always say that a diamond will be more expensive.

Related article: What Is The Most Expensive Color Of Diamond?

5. Brilliance

This is another factor that needs to be considered while differentiating a diamond and an emerald. A gemstone does not sparkle when it is mined from the earth. It has to be cut and polished to gather all the light and then reflect it to the eyes. If a gemstone is not cut or polished, light can leak from the crown or sides and make it look dull. 

The gemstone’s brilliance is determined by refractive index value (RI). The refractive index of a diamond is 2.4, whereas the emerald has a refractive index between 1.57 to 1.58. The RI value is higher in diamonds because designers cut the facets in such a way that it enhances the total internal reflection. 

For instance, round-cut diamonds have a higher number of facets than other cuts. Hence the brilliance of a diamond is higher than other stones and even diamonds of other shapes. 

For emeralds, they cannot be designed or cut into any shape because they are brittle and break easily. It may be impossible to cut them with as many facets as a round-cut diamond. Hence, in most cases, they are not as brilliant.

6. Cut

Most people think the gemstone cut like a pear shape, heart shape, or rectangular shape exists when it is mined from the earth. But in reality, the craftsman does a lot of hard work in giving a specific shape to the gemstone. 

The diamond’s cut affects the brilliance, fire, and sparkle.  A diamond with a lower cutting grade will have low brilliance and less sparkle and is usually less expensive than emeralds. Various diamond shapes are available in the market, like baguette cuts, round cuts, pear cuts, heart shapes, and many more.  

Related article: What Is the Best Cut for a Diamond

The round-cut diamonds have a large surface area and more brilliance and fire than other diamond cuts. Artisans usually cut the emeralds to hold their natural weight. 

On the other hand, there are a few characteristics that make emerald crystals quite challenging to cut. Firstly, they are brittle compared to diamonds. Hence the craftsman finds it challenging to give shape to the emerald crystals. 

Secondly, the cutter must cut the gemstone in such a way that it should maximize the hue. For instance, the artisan can lighten the dark gemstone with a shallow cut or by adding facets. 

There are many shapes of emeralds, but the rectangular cut is quite common in the market. This is because there is less waste of the emerald gemstone when cutting. The cutting is also easier for the craftsman; additionally, the facets are open in this cut, giving it a rich green color.

7. Color

The primary and most visible difference between emeralds and diamonds is color. The diamonds you see in jewelry stores range from colorless to tints of yellow. The Gemological Institute of America has designed a color scale to grade diamonds.  


The scale starts with D (colorless ), then the color increases and ends in Z(yellow tints). Colorless diamonds are expensive compared to yellow tint color-grade diamonds. There are even fancy colored diamonds like yellow, pink, and red, but they are graded outside this scale. 

Colored diamonds are extremely rare and hence quite expensive. 

For emeralds, their color is usually yellow-green or blue-green. The secondary colors in most emerald gemstones are yellow and blue. The green color is because of chromium, vanadium, or iron traces.

8. Style And Settings

Diamonds have numerous shapes and come in various popular settings like pave or solitaire settings. 

Emerald gemstones do not have many styles and settings compared to diamonds because of their brittle nature. 

There are various cuts in emerald stone, but the most common is called the emerald cut. The most popular setting in emerald gemstones is the halo setting or bezel setting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Is Better, Diamond Or Emerald?

It’s challenging to say which is better, between diamond and emerald. Most people think that diamonds are expensive compared to emerald gemstones. But emeralds are rare gemstones and can sometimes be more costly than diamonds.

Which is better depends on the eye of the beholder, as the saying goes!

Can You Wear Emeralds Every Day?

Most people think that emerald gemstones cannot be worn every day. These stones are softer than diamonds but can be worn daily as they are rated 7.5 to 8 on Mohr’s scale. 

But, like any other gemstone, you should remove it while doing strenuous activities.

Why Are Emerald Diamonds Cheaper?

A skilled craftsman gives shape to the rough diamond to have good fire, brilliance, and sparkle. 

But emerald-cut diamonds are a bit cheaper because there is less wastage of rough diamonds in the cutting procedure compared to round-cut diamonds. 

Related articles:

Wrap Up 

Diamonds and emeralds both are valuable gemstones. It’s difficult to say which one is better than the other. Wearing any of these gemstones will give you a stunning look on a special occasion. 

These gemstones differ in various aspects, not just color. 

For instance, a diamond is harder compared to an emerald. Secondly, the inclusions in a diamond can be seen through 10 magnification, but the naked eye can see emerald inclusions. Likewise, they differ in parameters like cut quality, price, and brilliance. 

Related article: Which Moissanite Looks Most Like a Diamond


James Allen Logo

James Allen is our most recommended online jeweler that guarantees a wonderful online shopping experience. You will find the most beautiful and best quality diamonds available for very competitive prices.

James Allen Diamond Rings