Emeralds are a variety of the mineral beryl (Be3Al2(SiO3)6,) colored green by trace amounts of chromium and sometimes vanadium. Beryl has a hardness of 7.5 - 8 on the 10 point Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Most emeralds are highly included, so their brittleness (resistance to breakage) is classified as generally poor. The word "emerald" comes from Latin smaragdus, via Greek smaragdos, its original source being a Semitic word izmargad or the Sanskrit word, marakata, meaning "emerald" or "green.
Emeralds, like all colored gemstones, are graded using four basic parameters, the four Cs of Connoisseurship; Color, Cut, Clarity and Crystal. The last C, crystal is simply used as a synonym that begins with C for transparency or what gemologists call diaphaneity. Prior to the 20th Century jewelers used the term water as in "a gem of the finest water" to express the combination of two qualities, color and crystal. Normally, in the grading of colored gemstones, color is by far the most important criterion. However, in the grading of emerald, crystal is considered a close second. Both are necessary conditions. A fine emerald must possess not only a pure verdant green hue as described below, but also a high degree of to be considered a top gem