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What is Emerald Clarity

Emeralds are formed naturally within the earth in various locations with different conditions and mineral compositions. High pressure and heat also come into the mix as the emerald is being formed. For this reason, each emerald has a different look and combination of inclusions. Clarity refers to the presence of inclusions or the lack of them. Emeralds that have less inclusions are naturally more valuable and more rare. Heavily included emeralds can look less beautiful as their ability to reflect light is lessened and their color is hidden by the inclusions. However, all emeralds do have some inclusions, and with proper cutting these won't detract from the beauty of the emerald. Learn more about emerald color.

Types of Inclusions in Natural Emeralds

Various inclusions can form naturally within an emerald. Each inclusion has a different appearance and affects the value of the emerald in different ways. Inclusions can typically be seen with the naked eye and all inclusions can be seen with a 10x microscope.

Fissure Inclusions


Also called feathers, fissures are very commonly seen in natural emeralds. Unless fissures are found in a large number within the gemstone, they do not detract significantly from the look of the gemstone. These inclusions can look like lines or fractures within the emerald.

Cavity Inclusions

Cavities & Chips

These are the outline of a crystal shape within the emerald. The crystal is not actually present but has left a small cavity within the emerald.

Growth Tube Inclusions

Growth Tubes

These are tubes that run parallel to one another within the structure of the emerald.

Spiral Inclusions


This twisting inclusions is formed when drops of water are trapped during the formation of an emerald within the gem.

Fingerprints Inclusions


This natural shape resembles the look of a finger print and is formed by liquid filled bubbles in the emerald during formation.

Color Zoning Inclusions

Color Zoning

Most emeralds are primarily green but do have other secondary colors such as blue and yellow. Uneven colors is when the color does not look uniform across the surface of the emerald. Inclusions can often cause color zoning making portions of the emerald look white or transparent. Color zoning is also something impacted by the cutting of the emerald. Cutters try to preserve the green hue and tone to make the color even.

Clarity Enhancing Treatments

Enhancement techniques are used to improve the look of the color and clarity of the emerald. Oftentimes, natural emerald do have clarity imperfections that can be permanently improved with these treatments. Unlike sapphires and rubies, emeralds are not treated with heat. It is rare to find an emerald that does not have color or clarity imperfections. 99% of emeralds are oil treated to enhance appearance. With Clarity uses only oil treated emeralds, that are chosen for their beauty and long-lasting appeal.

Oil Treatment: Emeralds typically have fissures, that are formed naturally within the earth. The filling substance which is typically oil is drawn into the cracks within the emerald. This improves the appearance of the emerald by minimizing the look of cracks. However, this treatment cannot significantly alter the look of the emerald. It also does not significantly improve an emerald that does not have many surface-reaching fissures.

Resin or Polymer: treated or filled with resin or polymer are treated in a similar fashion as those with oil. These treatments fill the emerald with a foreign substance that can detract from the overall look and value of the gem.

Wax Treatment: Another less common treatment involves heating wax and using it to fill the cracks within an emerald. However, this treatment is less desirable as it can leave behind a yellowish or gritty look when looked at under a microscope.


Do all emeralds have inclusions?

Yes, most emeralds will have some inclusions, and stones that have fewer inclusions are more valuable and rare. On the other hand, emeralds with a high number of inclusions do not reflect light well, which negatively affects their appearance making the gem look lackluster.

What are the types of inclusions in natural emeralds?

Various types of inclusions can form within an emerald, like fissures, cavities, chips, spirals, fingerprints, and growth tubes, amongst others.

Do emeralds undergo treatment?

Yes, almost all emeralds are usually oil treated to enhance their appearance. Wax treatment and resin or polymer fillings are also used to improve the color and clarity of the emerald.

Can emerald inclusions be seen with the naked eye?

A poor-quality emerald can have several inclusions that can be seen with the naked eye. In the case of high-quality emeralds, you’ll need a jeweler’s loupe to see the flaws.
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