Jewelry Blog

Guide for No Oil Colombian Emeralds

Very rare Columbian emerald art deco necklace

No Oil Colombian Emeralds are among the most valuable gemstones in the world, and in some cases, they can be worth more than diamonds of the same carat weight. 

This complete buying guide will explain exactly what no-oil Colombian emeralds are, how to find them, and why you should choose them for your engagement ring. Afshin Shaddaie is an author and lecturer on vintage jewelry and rare gemstones.

What Is a No Oil Colombian Emerald?

Buccellati vintage Emerald Ring  SKU 13327

A No-Oil Colombian Emerald is a natural emerald gemstone mined in Colombia with a certificate attesting that it has not been enhanced or treated with any oil. These are the most valuable and desirable types of emeralds in the world.

Emeralds are part of the Type III gemstone category. This means that they are usually heavy with inclusions. What sets no oil emeralds apart from other gemstones is the fact that they are allowed to have inclusions.

Jewelers usually treat internal fractures in emeralds with cedar oil. The oil fills the cracks within the emeralds, enhancing their clarity and even improving their color. While oil treatment is generally accepted by the gem trade, most serious collectors, investors, and buyers prefer no-oil emeralds

While oiled emeralds might seem perfect, they come with a lengthy list of disadvantages. For one, the oil will eventually dry out, so you will have to reapply it occasionally. Oiled emeralds are also harder to fix if they get chipped or fractured. Common household substances, or even hot water, can also erase the effects of oil treatment. 

Unlike other gems, which lose their value if they have inclusions, high-quality no oil Columbian emeralds are allowed to have these imperfections. Not only are inclusions accepted, but no oil Colombian emeralds can be even twice as expensive as treated emeralds of the same color, cut, and carat. 

The highest-quality types of no oil Colombian emeralds exhibit an intense, almost transparent, pure green color. Even the slightest secondary hues, such as yellow or blue, can decrease the value of the emerald. Due to their extreme rarity, no oil Colombian emeralds are often sold at a very high price. 

Shop Columbian Emeralds

Here are some of the Columbia emeralds that are available at our showroom.

History of Columbian Emeralds

Muzo Mine raw Colombian emerald
Raw Muzo Mine Colombian Emeralds.

While countless stories have been retold about treasure hunting and expeditions seeking gold, the history of emeralds dates back to ancient times. 

Before the pre-Columbian period, the first records of emeralds came from Ancient Egypt, when emeralds were considered to bring good luck and fortune. In Central America, emeralds were part of religious rituals. The quest for emeralds in what is now Columbia began in the 15th century when Spanish conquistadors came to the New World. 

Emeralds have always carried some sort of special meaning, which changed from civilization to civilization. Some claim that they have healing powers due to their calming green color. According to some other ancient legends, emeralds could help you see the future. Others believed that they could improve your intelligence, ease childbirth, and bring good luck to marriages. 

Mining was first developed in Pre-Columbia by the Muzo indigenous people. It took over 500 years for the Spanish to take over their mines. Once they brought back the emeralds that they had taken from the indigenous people to Europe, the global market for the Columbian emerald began. 

During the 19th and 18th centuries, emerald mines were the central issue of many civil wars and political problems. Even today, illegal emerald mining and illicit trade still represent a troubling concern in Colombia. 

Colombia’s most famous emerald mine is the Muzo mine in the western Boyacá province. Other Colombian mines with a long history of producing emeralds are the Coscuez mine, Las Pavas, and La Pita in the Western belt and the Chivor mine, the Somondoco mine, and the Gualí mine in the Eastern belt. 

Why Are Colombian Emeralds Best?

13249 Greenhaven Colombian emerald ring with sapphire halo
Greenhaven Ring from Estate Diamond Jewelry. SKU 13249

Colombian emeralds make up between 70% to 90% of the global emerald market. Most Colombian emeralds were found in the Boyacá province and the Cundinamarca department, located in the Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes. Some of the most famous Colombian emerald mines include Muzo, Coscuez, and Chivor. 

The Muzo mine remains the most significant emerald mine in the world. Not only does it produce many Colombian emeralds, but it also yields a specific type of emerald, completely unique to this mine. Emeralds from the Muzo mine have a grassy-green color with slight yellow hues. Colombian emeralds that come from other mines usually contain a much darker shade of green. 

What makes Colombian emeralds the best emeralds in the world is their quality. To be more precise, Columbian emeralds are the purest emeralds ever found. 

Their host rock – the rock miners dig them out from – lies behind their purity. While other emeralds are found in magmatic or igneous rocks, Colombian emeralds are dug out of sedimentary rocks. These rocks contain high levels of saline, which removes iron impurities inside the emeralds. 

The vibrant green color of Colombian emeralds comes from chemical elements such as beryllium, chromium, and vanadium. These chemical elements produce a unique green hue that makes almost every Colombian emerald unique. 

The most valuable Colombian emeralds have a dark green hue, and they can only be found in the deepest Colombian mines. 

No Oil vs. Oiled Colombian Emeralds 

loose no-oil Colombian emeralds against wood background

It is no secret that the majority of Colombian emeralds are treated in some sort of way. In fact, it’s quite a challenge to find an emerald that isn’t heavily treated, let alone untreated. 

Why are Columbian emeralds treated in the first place? Emeralds usually come with inclusions that occur beneath their surface. Whether an emerald has cracks, bubbles, embedded crystals, or any other types of fractures, the internal inclusions make the emerald seem cloudy or opaque. 

Emeralds are often treated with oils to enhance their appearance and quality. Oil is added to fill the cracks to make an emerald seem clearer. In most cases, natural oils are used for this treatment process. The most popular oil for treating emeralds is cedarwood oil. Others prefer to use synthetic resin or polymer fillers. 

In some cases, oil treatment is also used to improve the color of an emerald. However, if the color is intense enough to meet certain requirements, colorless oil is used for the treatment.  The level of emerald clarity enhancement can be measured from none to insignificant, minor, moderate, and significant. While the gem trade accepts natural oil treatments for emeralds, color-tinted oils are not. 

As mentioned, the main issue with oiled emeralds is that the oil dries out sooner or later, meaning you have to reapply it. Therefore, oil treatment is only a temporary solution.  If your emerald requires future repairs, oil treatment can make it very difficult or even impossible. 

As a result, no oil Colombian emeralds are very challenging to get a hold of. Therefore, no oil emeralds are extremely valuable. No oil emeralds are worth much more than a fully treated emerald with minimal to no inclusions. 

How Much Do No Oil Columbian Emeralds Cost? 

Tempi Emerald Engagement Ring with diamond halo
Tempi Emerald Ring from Estate Diamond Jewelry. SKU 12419

As mentioned before, the price of a no oil Colombian emerald can equal a diamond with the same carat weight. This just goes to show how valuable no oil Colombian emeralds are. 

There are several factors that can influence the overall price of an emerald. Just like diamonds, they can be graded according to the four Cs (color, clarity, cut, and carat). Naturally, color is the most important quality-determining factor. Emeralds must exhibit a pure green, almost transparent color to be valuable. 

No oil Columbian emeralds come with inclusions, an obvious sign that they haven’t been treated in any way. However, even though they are bound to have some inclusions, the fewer they have (without treatment), the better. While cut and carat are essential to some degree, they don’t determine the price as much as the first two factors. 

No oil Columbian emeralds that aren’t heavily included can cost tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, even though they weigh less than one carat. In fact, one carat of a no oil Columbian emerald is usually estimated at around $100,000. 

Of course, there are some no oil Columbian emeralds that are worth a fortune. For example, the Rockefeller Emerald, at 18 carats, was sold for approximately $5.5 million. Another famous example of a Colombian emerald is the Elizabeth Taylor Brooch by Bvlgari, which cost around $6.5 million. 

Since no oil Colombian emeralds are so rare, their price is bound to increase in the future.

Famous Examples of Colombian Emerald Jewelry 

Emeralds have a long, rich history. People have waged wars over them in the past, and they are still highly sought after even to this day. Here are some of the most famous Colombian emeralds that have made their way into history: 

The Duke of Devonshire Emerald

Duke of Devonshire Emerald Muzo Colombian
Duke of Devonshire Emerald

The Duke of Devonshire Emerald is one of the largest uncut Colombian emeralds in the world. It weighs approximately 1,383.93 carats. It was found in the Muzo mine in Colombia, which is the most famous emerald mine in the world. Today it’s in the Natural History Museum in London. 

The Rockefeller Emerald 

Rockefeller Emerald Colombian Ring
The Rockefeller Emerald

One of the most famous Colombian emeralds is the Rockefeller Emerald. It’s almost perfectly transparent, and it didn’t go through any type of treatment. It weighs 18 carats, and it’s worth $5.5 million, and currently belongs to a private collection. It has an octagonal step-cut and a beautiful deep green color. 

The Chalk Emerald 

Square Cut Chalk Emerald Ring With Diamonds
The Chalk Emerald 

This Colombian emerald is 37.82 carats (or 7.564 g). In 1972, it was donated to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum as part of its National Gem and Mineral Collection. 

The Patricia Emerald 

patricia emerald on black background
Patricia Emerald

This famous emerald was discovered in 1920 and was named after the daughter of the man who owned the mine at that time. The Patricia Emerald weighs 630 carats and has a di-hexagonal cut. New York’s American Museum of Natural History is its current home. 

Gachalá Emerald 

Gachala Emerald Raw Green
Gachalá Emerald

Discovered in 1967 in the Vega de San Juan mine, the Gachalá Emerald is also quite famous. The uncut emerald weighs approximately 858 carats. Its current home is the Smithsonian Institution in New York. 

The Raw Beauty of No Oil Columbian Emeralds

14613 emerald engagement ring with baguette diamond accents
Chitina Ring from Estate Diamond Jewelry. SKU 14613

Emeralds have been considered the most beautiful gemstones in the world for thousands of years. They symbolize elegance, wealth, and royalty. Even though most emeralds are treated with fracture-filling oil, it’s still possible to find no oil Colombian emeralds. 

If you choose a no oil Colombian emerald for your engagement ring, you can’t go wrong. Such an engagement ring is bound to bring you good luck. 

Tips for Shopping for a No Oil Colombian Emeralds 

UGL Diamond Certification on Table

If you are planning to buy a no oil Colombian emerald, here are some things that you should keep in mind: 

1. Make Sure That Your Emerald Is Not Treated 

It’s very challenging to find no oil Colombian emeralds. There’s also a fair chance that you might not be looking at it. 

According to the US Federal Trade Commission, if the emeralds you are selling have been treated, you are obligated to disclose that information. Still, many people aren’t aware of this policy, so it’s not difficult to scam a buyer. 

You should always look for emeralds with certifications proving they are natural. 

2. Ask About the Four Cs 

The four Cs apply not only to diamonds but also to other gemstones. For emeralds, the most important quality-determining factor is color. It’s hard to find emeralds with a pure green hue, as they usually exhibit slight yellowish or bluish undertones. 

Clarity is, of course, also very important. However, remember that visible inclusions are a clear sign that the emerald hasn’t been treated. It’s possible to find an emerald with minimal inclusions, though they are very expensive and exceptionally rare. 

Emeralds usually have a rectangular shape, after which it was named the “emerald cut.” In terms of size, it’s also possible to find emeralds of different carat rates. The no oil Columbian emeralds of the highest quality are worth $10,000 per carat. 

3. Decide Which Metal Goes Best With the Emerald 

Gemstones are always accompanied by either gold, silver, or platinum. Due to their deep green color, emeralds are best paired with platinum. If you choose gold, it might emphasize any secondary yellow hues your emerald might have. Of course, this decision ultimately depends on personal preference. 

4. Expect Inclusions 

As mentioned before, untreated, natural gemstones are bound to come with inclusions. Finding a no oil Columbian emerald without a single fracture would be almost impossible. If such a gemstone exists, it is probably in possession of a private collector. 

How to Make a Ring for a Colombian Emerald? 

14611 Emerald engagement ring with cluster diamond halo
Carpre Ring from Estate Diamond Jewelry. SKU 14611

So you’ve decided that you want a Columbian emerald for your engagement ring. The next step is to choose the one you like best. We recommend that you first take a look at the emerald ring selection that we have to offer. 

Once you find an emerald ring that catches your eye, you can contact us here.  It’s a good idea to reserve the ring so that nobody else can buy it before you. 

On the other hand, you also have the option to design your own Columbian emerald ring.  All you have to do is pick one Columbian emerald from the EDJ catalog and decide on the cut, and we will do the rest. 

If you prefer this option, you will go home with a custom-made, 100% unique Colombian emerald engagement ring. 

Contact Us

Group of Emerald Engagement Rings on Tile Surface

EDJ offers a stunning collection of emerald engagement rings that you can go through here. However, most of the rare Colombian Emeralds are not on display on our website. The full collection is very rare and viewable by request only.

Here’s what you need to mention so that we can help you:

  • Your budget
  • What type of Emerald Jewelry are you looking for? (ex: Ring, Earrings, Brooch, Necklace, Bracelet, or loose stone)
  • (Optional) Approximate carat size of emerald

Please Note: We also buy No-Oil Colombian Emeralds provided that they have good certificates accompanying them.


About Afshin Shaddaie

Afshin moved to New York City in the 1980s, and a few years later, he began his career in the fine and rare jewelry scene. He teamed up with Michael Khordipour, and they've been curating vintage jewelry ever since. He also regularly contributes to Forbes, Rapaport, CNBC, The Knot, and Insider. Afshin constantly travels to international shows and private viewing events in the hope of finding rare vintage rings that will be important enough to make an impression. He is available for appointments at our New York showroom when he's not traveling. In 2019, Afshin authored his book called The Engagement Ring Guide for Men. He is considered one of the world's foremost authorities on vintage jewelry and antique diamonds. His favorite jewelry era is Art Nouveau, and he loves rare Italian jewelry from the 1950s - 1970s. The Natural Saltwater Pearl is his favorite precious jewel.