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I'm just curious because I always thought an "emerald" was green...

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They're emeralds that aren't green? My, that's quite chaotic. – Arkive May 6 '11 at 18:47
They wouldn't be chaos emeralds, if they weren't chaotic. – RolandiXor May 7 '11 at 4:50
up vote 22 down vote accepted

In real life, Emeralds run the gamut from the standard green (the color "emerald", even) to a bluer / yellowish in the extremes, but even then they don't reach the full spectrum of the chaos emeralds.

Putting aside the very nature of them being video game constructs, the fact that the number of emeralds have changed (from 6 to 7), and that their colors have varied, it's otherwise likely that the chaos emeralds aren't really "emeralds" at all, but rather take their name for their association with the Master Emerald, which has always been a large, green gem (and thus, a "real" emerald).

This theory of course falls flat when you consider that the Master Emerald debuted in Sonic & Knuckles, while the Chaos Emeralds have existed since Sonic the Hedgehog (the 1991 game).

Bottom line? Someone in marketing thought "Chaos Emeralds" sounded better than "Chaos Beryls" or "Chaos Diamonds" (which are known for their varied colors) and that choice has propagated ever since, geology be damned.

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I seem to recall an explanation (or theory) that the reason there was only 6 Emeralds in the first game was because neither Sonic nor Robotnik knew about (or could get to) the 7th. (which explains why Sonic couldn't go Super Sonic). As for the colour differences, no idea. Also, the Master Emerald is younger than the Chaos Emeralds – Robotnik Oct 1 '15 at 1:41

Because it was called "Chaos Emerald" in the original Japanese.

When Sonic 1 was released in 1991, most Japanese gamers were able to read a small amount of English, but weren't fluent and had only a narrow vocabulary. This allowed game developers to get away with technically inaccurate English. A great example of this is the game Zero Wing, also released in 1991, featuring lines like "All your base are belong to us".

Sonic 1 called the gems Chaos Emeralds (カオスエメラルド - kaosu emerarudo). The American translation kept this name, since it was already in English.

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Circuit Beaver stalks again, I see. – Raven Dreamer May 7 '11 at 3:07
+1 for actual gamer history instead of speculation. =) – Steven May 7 '11 at 3:46
+1 for zero wing – Glen Wheeler May 9 '11 at 7:52

Well, there really isn't any "right" answer to this (unless you happen to know the person who originally designed them), but my guess would be that they're different colors to help distinguish them from each other, as well as the master emerald shards in later games. Think about it, it's more interesting to collect 7 different objects, (even if the differences are cosmetic) than it is to collect 7 identical objects.

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Boo to you sad repetitive Tri-Force! – Jack B Nimble May 6 '11 at 18:45
Are you nuts? Triangles are awesome. – Raven Dreamer May 6 '11 at 22:15
But it's not like there's seven of 'em. One piece, great. Two pieces, better. Three pieces, awesome... Six pieces, ok. Seven pieces, AHHH TOO MANY! :D – Jeff Mercado May 7 '11 at 1:43

One plausible explanation is that they actually meant Beryl, of which Emerald is the green version.

However, if you look at them, the Chaos Emeralds resemble cut diamonds more than anything else.

At a guess, a translator mistranslated it back at Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and the name has stuck ever since.

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The Brilliant Cut has neither been the only way the Emeralds have been presented, nor is it traditionally reserved for diamonds (it has more to do with the shape of the gemstone pre-cut). You're probably spot on with the Beryl, however. Much harder to pluralize, too. – Raven Dreamer May 6 '11 at 23:37
"Hey, I've gotten all of the Chaos Beryl...s...uhh..." – Kevin Yap May 7 '11 at 3:08
Also, try to imagine Japanese people pronouncing "Beryl". – Raven Dreamer May 8 '11 at 6:43
@Raven: I imagine after クイン・ベリル, contemporary with Sonic, nearly every Japanese person had some idea of how to pronounce it. – user2640 Mar 23 '12 at 21:55

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