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Colombian Emeralds

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Transparency is an important although sometimes illusive characteristic of emeralds. Because emeralds are often included, finding specimens with high degrees of transparency can be extremely difficult, and very transparent emeralds of significant size are extremely rare and highly prized.

Transparency can be defined as the degree in which light will pass through the gemstone so that objects are visible through it. Often, inclusions and flaws can block the passage of light.

Gemological institutions generally categorize transparency into five degrees, ranging from perfectly transparent to completely opaque. More specifically, the following terms are often used:
  • Transparent - An object seen through the gemstone looks clear and distinct;
  • Semitransparent - Objects look slightly hazy or blurry through the stone, much like the way you would see things if viewed through someone else’s glasses;
  • Translucent - Objects are vague and hard to see, or as if it were viewed through a piece of frosted glass;
  • Semi-translucent - Only a small fraction of light passes through the stone, particularly around the edges;
  • Opaque - Virtually no light can pass through the gemstone;


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