Q: Is it safe to buy gemstones on the internet?
A: Yes. In fact, it is safe to buy just about anything on the internet. But not from just anybody. The difference is who you buy from. As an online shopper it generally is not hard to discern a good vendor from a bad one. Many times your instincts will tell you. It might be recycled stock photos, unrealistic prices, poor grammar, or a general feeling that these are the same guys who sell sapphires on Ebay for $0.99. We’re not that kind of gem dealer. We have worked long and hard to make Embassy Emeralds a leading online seller of quality Colombian emeralds and we’re proud of it. We think this hard work is apparent in our website, in the quality of the emeralds we sell, and in the attention we give the customer. These all build trust and to an online gem dealer that cares about its reputation, trust is everything. We simply would not be able to stay in business without it. At Embassy Emeralds, we are committed to building a relationship of trust with our customers. Give us the opportunity and you won’t be disappointed.
Q: How do I know my credit card and personal information will be safe?
A: Embassy Emeralds understands and appreciates the importance of security. After all, we travel to Colombia ourselves to bring you these fine gems. But on the subject of secure ordering, we assure you your information is safe. Transactions with Embassy Emeralds are protected with SSL encryption by GeoTrust, a leading Certificate Authority.
Q: Does Embassy Emeralds have a physical store or showroom?
A: No, we do not. For practical reasons, Embassy Emeralds is an online entity only. Not having a physical store also keeps our overhead low, which enables us to sell emeralds to our customers at very competitive prices.
Q: Does Embassy Emeralds have a 1-800 number I can call?
A: We are an internet business, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But we are a small business and often our work is conducted at times outside the typical 9-5 work day. This gives us a great amount of freedom in our schedules allowing us to conduct business operations at any time of day, any day of the year. We regret any inconvenience this may cause our customers, but we promise to be remarkably prompt and responsive to any questions or concerns you may have. Please do not hesitate to email them to us. You can expect a quick response by email or by phone, usually within hours.
Q: What is the mailing address for Embassy Emeralds?
A: We do not prominently feature our mailing address because of junk mail and security concerns but we will post it here in this FAQ. Any questions and concerns are best addressed through email and we encourage you to consider that as your first choice when contacting us.
Attn: Garrett Fifer
17259 Old Brennan Hwy
Tinley Park, IL 60477
Q: When I place my order, where will it ship from?
A: If we have the emeralds or jewelry in our inventory, it will ship from Elgin, Illinois, which is near Chicago. If the item is sourced from Colombia it will first be shipped to Elgin, Illinois to be packaged and then on to you. Shipping from Colombia may take a few additional days because of the distance and customs procedures.
Q: Are the emeralds sold on Embassy Emeralds genuine?
A: Embassy Emeralds sells only 100% genuine Colombian emeralds and we guarantee their authenticity. We buy only from reputable and trusted sources and we personally handpick which stones we sell. You will never find synthetic or laboratory produced emeralds listed on Embassy Emeralds. If we should ever list any stone that comes from anywhere other than Colombia, we will explicitly indicate the origin in the stone's product description.
Q: Why are gems certified?
A: Gems are certified to verify the authenticity of the stone. A gem certificate will have a photograph of the stone and include information such as the weight, cut, origin, measurements, enhancements, and any other relative features noted during the certifying inspection. The certifying agencies employ trained gemologists who use a variety of scientific methods and test equipment to thoroughly examine the gems. Use the following links to view examples of an AGTA gem certificate or a GIA Certificate done in Colombia.
Q: Why aren't all stones certified?
A: The biggest reason not to certify is cost. The cost to certify a stone generally ranges from $150 - $300 from a recognized, reputable, and independent organization; although some labs are now offering cheaper, yet limited certifications. There are many agencies and organizations that may issue gem certifications, and some may do it for less, but jewelers and insurers do not recognize many of these 'unknown' certificates. Also many certificates might be issued by the sellers themselves, creating conflicts of interest. If you require a certification, the best advice is to buy stones certified by an independent organization that is industry recognized. If there's any doubt, look up the certifying agency or organization on the web and form your own opinions based on what you find.
Q: Where do the emeralds come from?
A: All of our emeralds come from the world-renowned mines of Muzo, Chivor, Coscuez, or La Pita in Colombia and we travel there ourselves to choose which emeralds to bring to you. Colombian emeralds are well known and accepted to be the very best emeralds in the world.
Q: Isn't it dangerous to travel to Colombia and be involved in the emerald trade?
A: Yes and no. The security situation in Colombia has improved significantly over the past 5-10 years or so, making travel there much less dangerous than it was. That is not to say that traveling to Colombia is totally safe. It can be, but security must be a consideration in whatever you do. As far as the emerald trade is concerned, security is a big concern. For years violence and danger had surrounded Colombia's emerald industry until the government stepped up to make the situation a bit safer. The mining areas can still be dangerous. But the biggest concern is crime when you’re dealing with large sums of money or high value items such as gemstones. We understand and accept the risks. How else could we bring you these magnificent green treasures?
Q: What is the best way to mount or display my new emeralds?
A: The best way to mount your emeralds is whichever way makes you the happiest. Many buyers have had visions of beautiful emerald jewelry in their heads for so long they can describe their dream ring or necklace in detail, though the pieces have never even existed yet. If you're not one of those people or you just need some help, let us know. We'll be glad to give some suggestions. We can also arrange work with some of the fantastic jewelry designers we have relationships with. In the end, we know you'll end up with fine jewelry that is truly special and meaningful to you. Custom made jewelry pieces, such as the ones you might make with your purchase, often become family heirlooms that will continue to bring joy to you, your family, and friends for generations to come.
Q: I have more questions about emeralds, who can I ask?
A: Questions are always welcome, as they give us an opportunity to provide you with better service. Please send any questions you may have to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get back to you in less than 24 hours. In some instances we may ask for a call back number to discuss your question by telephone. You're also welcome to use this email to send any comments, suggestions, or other concerns you may have regarding the website, the merchandise, or our service.
Q: How will the package be marked for shipping?
A: For security reasons, we will never use the word 'emerald' on the shipping labels or documents affixed to the outside of the package. The return address will appear as Trident Enterprises LLC and the contents will generally be listed on customs forms (if applicable) using a tariff code or the words 'Green Beryl', which is a more scientific name for 'Emerald'.
Q: How much are emeralds worth per carat?
A: We often get questions like this, and they are never easy to answer. The correct answer is that an emerald is worth what people will pay for them and that price depends on the quality and rarity of the stone. Several factors, but in particular, the 4 C’s of Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat become the quality bases of any valuation to be made. You’ll find a discussion of the 4 C’s on our About Emeralds page. If you were to apply those 4 C’s as you browse a varied selection of emeralds, you’d quickly understand their importance in making a determination of an emerald’s quality. In a given selection you’d see cloudy, milky colored stones; emeralds that lack true emerald green color; ‘eye-clean’ stones; heavily included stones; badly cut or chipped stones; as well as small and large stones.
All of these variations are out there, so it would be impossible to assign a single market price to all emeralds. Instead they are evaluated on a more individual basis or sometimes in the ‘lots’ by which they may be purchased from the supplier. The lowest quality emeralds, which probably do not deserve that name, might be found for perhaps $10-$80 per carat if priced fairly in emerald markets. They may be green, but would probably lack the typical coloration and other gem qualities that a specimen of Green Beryl requires to be classified as an ‘Emerald’. Still, there are many who will market these poor quality stones as emeralds at ridiculous prices. Above that, you have stones that you might classify collectively as ‘commercial quality’. That term can be used to describe emeralds in a very broad quality range that would be found in most of the emerald jewelry available to consumers. Prices per carat for these stones vary greatly and can reach a few thousand dollars per carat, but size and the 4 C’s will have a lot to do with it. Beyond that, pricing of very fine emeralds is another world all together. Some may be affordable at perhaps as low as $1,000 but others may reach up to an amazing $50,000 per carat if you can believe it. Though a $50,000/ct emerald would be impossibly rare, very large, absolutely flawless, and would certainly have some important history or other significance to it. Even emeralds in the $5,000-$10,000 price range are rare, but certainly obtainable.
Q: What is the proper way to care for my emeralds?
A: It is not difficult to care for your new emeralds, but you must be aware of a few things you shouldn't do.
For the best results, clean your stone with very mildly soapy water and a soft, non-abrasive cloth, rinse thoroughly, dry, and enjoy. To understand why emeralds must be cleaned in this way, we suggest you read the other FAQ questions concerning emerald treatments.
- Never clean your emerald using an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner
- Never use harsh chemicals or solvents on your emerald
- Never boil or heat the emerald, it may crack or remove the stone's treatment
- Do not wash dishes with your emerald ring on. Grease and dish soap film will collect on the stone and deny you its brilliance.
Q: Are all emeralds treated?
A: For the most part, yes. It is widely known and accepted throughout the jewelry industry that all but perhaps 5% or less of emeralds sold today have been treated in some way. The same figures apply to other types of gemstones such as Ruby and Sapphire as well. That does not make them any less valuable. If anything, treatments, when done correctly and in moderation, make the stones more beautiful, more pleasing to the eye, and therefore more valuable.
Q: What kinds of treatments are applied to emeralds?
A: The most common treatments applied to emeralds are colorless oils, resins, and epoxies. The treatments are done in order to fill tiny cracks and fissures that occur naturally within the stone. These treatments can greatly improve the emerald's appearance, making the tiny crack features in the stone much less visible and enhancing its ability to capture and reflect light. Though you may not have been aware that gemstones are treated, it is rarely done to deceive buyers about the quality of the stone.
Q: How valuable are emeralds compared to other gemstones?
A: Compared to other gems, emeralds are one of the most valuable, even more valuable than diamonds in some cases. Some of the finest Colombian emeralds on the market today fetch prices in excess of $10,000 per carat. Those are truly special and rare stones but they do exist and are available to people who must have the very best of the best. If you fit that description and you wish to explore purchasing the ultimate in emeralds ($3,000+ per carat), please send us an email with your name and phone number to email@example.com and tell us what you have in mind. We'll contact our sources immediately to begin the search.
Q: Why are Colombian emeralds better than emeralds from other sources?
A: Not all emeralds are created equal. Emeralds have very distinctive characteristics depending on where they come from and the mineralogical conditions under which they were formed. Colombian emeralds are considered the best because of their rich green, sometimes greenish-blue, color and the sizes they are sometimes found in. They tend to be more included than emeralds from other emerald producing countries, but that only makes the 'cleaner'stones that much more rare and valuable. Despite the inclusions, if you were to place comparably sized typical emeralds from Colombia, Brazil, and Zambia side by side, an overwhelming majority of people would agree that the Colombian emeralds are much more desirable.
Q: Do inclusions in the emerald make them less valuable?
A: Not necessarily. All emeralds are included, so people accept it, and at times, even value this trait. Inclusions or features within the stone are often referred to as its 'garden'. They are not considered 'a bad thing' unless they negatively impact the stone's integrity or significantly affect its ability to capture, reflect, and manipulate light. Emeralds with inclusions that would be unacceptable in other gemstones are bought and sold every day at prices well above those of other 'non-included' gems. One has to look at each type of gem as its own distinct, individual species of stone and appreciate the differences, because each gem type is unique. While on the subject of inclusions, it is also worth mentioning that stones from different sources often have certain inclusion traits that help determine the authenticity of the stone, as well as the origin. Trained eyes may even be able to tell which mine the emerald was taken from. In this way, inclusions can be helpful.
Q: If the stone is not cut perfectly, will it be evident when I have it mounted in a piece of jewelry?
A: It depends. Most of the time small deviations in the cutting of the stone will be hidden by the mount. In smaller gems, these deviations will be negligible and will not be noticeable. Some errors in cutting, if severe enough, can affect the gem's ability to manipulate light. You will not find these stones sold by Embassy Emeralds. We handpick all of our stones with an eye for quality.
Q: Who is the man in the suit on the front page?
A: Though I’ve been told I look much better now, I’ll admit it. That is a picture of me, Garrett Fifer. It was taken about the time I founded Embassy Emeralds in 2005. People actually ask us this question, so here it is in our FAQ.