We all know the old rule of thumb. Dig down to about Y=11 and build a branch mine with two rows of blocks between each tunnel. That’s because in the old ore distribution system, diamond, redstone, iron, lapis lazuli, and gold were all found in significant quantities at this one level. There was no variety in block height aside from the much newer copper which was more likely to be found around Y=48. All of this was changed with the release of Minecraft 1.18 and that remains true today in 1.20. There are certainly more efficient ways of getting lots of emerald, but if you’d rather not deal with trading, in this guide we explain where emerald ore can now be found.
What Did Minecraft 1.18 Change?
Just about everything, it turns out. The build height is now 320 with blocks found as high as 256. Y=0 is no longer roughly the layer of bedrock. Instead you can dig as deep as Y=-64. That’s a whole lot of new blocks to fill!
In an attempt to make things more diverse and reward the exploration of different biomes, Mojang has completely rebalanced ore generation. That means you’ll need to target different world heights for the various materials going forward.
What is the Best Level/Height to Find Emerald?
Emerald used to appear consistently between Y=5 and Y=30. It didn’t matter what height you were at as long as there was earth on that level, but you also had to be in a mountain biome. Which has never really made sense to me. What does it matter if there are mountains above us if we’re this far below ground?
Now the ore starts generating at Y=-15 and becomes more and more common as the mountains you mine are higher and higher into the sky. Emerald has the highest odds of spawning at Y=225. Much like with iron ore, this now means that you should be searching for the highest mountains possible. Keep in mind that it still must be a mountain biome, but at least the ore is now actually found in the mountains.
If you don’t know what level you’re at, hit F3 to display your current information and look for the XYZ values. This is also where you can confirm you’re in a mountain biome.
At this level you should also be able to find iron ore and coal in significant quantities.
Want to see the changes for yourself? Here’s the official ore distribution map from Mojang.
It’s a bit hard to parse, but you see that really small striped green pattern in the comparison? That means emeralds were equally likely to spawn at all of those levels. In the new distribution on the left, the ore now becomes more and more prevalent as you reach height values above 200. It’s similar to iron in that there’s actually less emerald at the very top of the world generation cap, but at least it’s a less pronounced drop off.
While you’re here you can use that chart to figure out where to get the other ore types, but we’ll also be writing up guides to help decipher it all since it can be a big confusing. You can find our explanation for diamond ore here and our iron ore guide here.