Everything You Need to Know About Buying Emeralds in Colombia

Colombian emerald | © Engin_Akyurt / Pixabay
Colombian emerald | © Engin_Akyurt / Pixabay
Photo of Chris Bell
2 August 2017

Colombia is famous for several different exports, but few people know that Colombian emeralds account for 70–90% of the world’s emerald market and are said to be among the purest emeralds in the world. While buying emeralds in Colombia is easy to do, there are several things prospective emerald buyers should be aware of, so here is everything you need to know about buying these jewels so that you get the best deal possible.

Colombian emeralds are globally famous for their quality, and many people come to Colombia with their eye on taking home a beautiful emerald of their very own or as a gift. However, there are important things to be aware of when looking to purchase a Colombian emerald.

A recently mined Colombian emerald | © Chris Bell

The most important thing to be aware of when buying a Colombian emerald is the quality of the stone versus the price, which can be as low as US$30–50 and as much as US$10,000, or maybe more! This huge price differential largely depends on the quality of the stone: those that cost closer to $50 are younger emerald formations which are more opaque and light in colour, and probably have a more turquoise colouration.

On the other hand, the emeralds that are going to have you parting with thousands of dollars formed over almost 40 million years and are translucent and dark green. Even a tiny little stone of this quality is going to cost a minimum of a few hundred dollars. While the colour of the stone is key in determining price, it’s also important to inspect the stone for inclusions – such as air bubbles or internal crystals – which can lower the price. A lighter stone with fewer inclusions than a darker one is likely to cost more, in spite of their respective colours.

A variety of Colombian emerald | © MAURO CATEB/Flickr

It’s also important to be aware of buying fake emeralds. First of all, make sure to buy from a reputable dealer (see below), but you can also spot fakes for yourself easily enough by holding your ‘emerald’ up to a light or magnifying glass and checking for inclusions. A completely perfect stone, without a single inclusion, is, in fact, likely to be fake. Also be aware of a possible scam: some dealers have been known to switch the real emerald for a fake after the sale is complete. Make sure to re-inspect your stone after the purchase.

The best place to buy emeralds in Colombia is undoubtedly the emerald market in Bogota. As the vast majority of Colombian emeralds are mined in the regions of Cundinamarca and Boyaca, most stones pass through the nearby capital. Bogota has a dedicated Emerald District near La Candelaria neighbourhood, between 12th Street and 6th Avenue, and this is definitely the best place to buy emerald jewellery in the city. There is also the Emerald Trade Center of Bogotá on Avenida Jiménez, which is a great place to pick up a good quality stone.

Where it all started..!! #emerald #colombianemerald #onlythebest #southamerica #future

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Interested parties can also purchase quality Colombian emeralds in Cartagena; the most reputable and well-regarded spots are the Caribe Jewelry and Emerald Museum and Lucy Jewelry. The latter, in particular, is a good option, as they refuse to pay commissions to guides who bring in customers, which keeps the price low for the consumer.

If you do decide to buy emeralds or emerald jewellery in Colombia, then you can rest assured that you will be buying a beautiful stone from the home of the world emerald trade. Simply inspect the stones, negotiate the price, and shop at a reputable shop, and you won’t run into any problems with your Colombian emerald experience.

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