History and Legend of Emeralds
Emeralds are one of the world’s most famed gemstones known for their sparkling green lustre and elegance. These precious gems are historically the most sought after and most expensive stones due to their exceptional beauty and rarity. Emeralds have embellished the thrones of royalty throughout history and are the most precious and expensive of all gems. When compared to diamonds, carat for carat, emeralds cannot be surpassed.
Emeralds were the first gems sought after and coveted. Before other cultures appreciated diamonds and other gems, Egyptians mined and fashioned gems at the world’s oldest source for emeralds, now known as Cleopatra’s mines. Egyptians, Romans and Turks worked on this mine dating back to 330 B.C.
Emeralds have long been the symbol of wealth and power worn by royalty and highly regarded citizens. Ancient cultures believed that emeralds symbolized love and rebirth, faith, kindness and goodness. They were also said to quicken intelligence as well as the heart. Associated with beauty, health and happiness, they were believed to heighten fertility and sexual desire in females. It is also said that emeralds cured snakebites, protected against illness, and were a symbol of immortality.
Ancient sacred writings of Hinduism, titled Vedas, state that the emerald could give mental power and wisdom. These writings also say that emeralds would make the wearer very persuasive and a charismatic speaker. The stones were worshipped by the Incas and included in biblical information about the apocalypse.
Emerald is the birthstone for those born in May. It is often presented as a gift for the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries. Emerald is the stone for Cancer on the Zodiac chart.
Emeralds in the Spotlight
Many emeralds have been distinguished in historical times and are highly guarded in museums around the world. Keen gemstone lovers can browse these one-of-a-kind stones to enjoy their beauty and brilliance. The largest collections of emeralds are found in the Crown jewels of Iran, most notably the Pahlabi Crown and the Nadi throne, the latter of which contains over one thousand carats of emerald. The 1383 carat Duke of Devonshire is a highly included deep green color. This gem was given to the Duke of Devonshire by the emperor of Brazil in 1836.
The 1500 carat Crown of Andes is set with 453 emeralds, which were taken from ancient Inca treasures. The main stone weighs 45 carats and 17 pear-shaped emeralds hang from the crown. The crown was created by local families of an ancient Inca city during the plague of 1590. It was created for the Blessed Mother for saving the Inca people from the plague. The 632 carat Patricia Emerald “The Patrizius” is from the Chivor mine in Colombia in 1920. Named after the patron saint of Ireland, the uncut crystal is known for its large size and rare 12-sided dihexagonal shape. The gem was donated by Fritz Klein and can be viewed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
The Origins of the Emerald
Emeralds are known as one of the world’s first mined gems. Emerald mining occurs in various geographical locations throughout the world. Each location produces distinctly unique gemstones which are highly sought after.
Historically, Egypt’s Cleopatra mines were the world’s largest producer of emeralds. However, Colombia and Brazil are now the top producers of these fine gemstones. Colombia is famous for producing the most vivid green stones found in today’s day and age. The main mines in Colombia are located in Muzo, Coscuez, Chivor, Gachala, Plenas Blancas, La Pita and Totumos. Muzo and Chivor are known for producing green with bluish overtones and Coscuez is known for producing yellowish overtones. Brazil produces a variety of colors ranging from light green to medium dark blue green.
Today there are emerald sources in many parts of the world including in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia and various parts of South Africa.
Zambian emeralds have gained popularity over the past decade. Zambia has the second largest emerald deposit but it is undeveloped and restricted to 40 mines in the northern region. Zambian emeralds are high quality, however are lacking in neon green in comparison to Colombian emeralds. They are usually very clean, with medium to fine green with a bluish cast. Emerald mining also occurs in Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Nigeria, and in the mountainous Habachtal region in Austria.
The USA and Japan together purchase more than 75% of the world’s cut emeralds.
Looking at the Emerald – Cut, color & Shape
Emeralds are the most precious gems in the world and the most valuable member of the beryl family. They are a form of beryl crystal which is a combination of the common elements of aluminum and silicon with the rare element of beryllium. The difference between emerald and green beryl is microscopic trace elements of either chromium or vanadium which give emerald its distinctive green tint.
When it comes to emeralds, color is paramount. Emeralds are offered in a variety of tinges and hues ranging from yellowish-green to bluish-green, however the finest emeralds have a deep, intense, glowing green.
Although emeralds are highly regarded and more expensive than diamonds, they are rather soft when compared in hardness. Emerald rates a 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale compared to a diamond at a perfect 10. When compared carat for carat, an emerald would definitely surpass a fine quality diamond in price. These exceptional gemstones look stunning in all types of jewellery and will radiate for years to come.
Emeralds come in many shapes and sizes providing exceptional variety to any gemstone lover. The most common shapes of this fine gem are pear and emerald-cut. The emerald-cut is the most popular and classical of all. It became popular for emerald due to the natural shape of the rough crystal and its cleavage. Round shapes over half a carat in weight are very rare and always command high premiums. Cabochon cuts are the oldest technique when cutting emeralds. This technique occurred prior to the world discovering any other faceting methods.
Keeping your Emerald Beautiful
Emeralds will continue to be brilliantly beautiful for millions of years with the proper care. Caring for your emerald gemstone is easy.
Here are some tips to help you keep your emerald beautiful:
- Store each piece separately in a soft bag to avoid scratches, particularly to keep emeralds separate from harder gems such as diamonds.
- Simple is best – clean your emeralds gently using a soft brush with warm water and a mild detergent.
- Avoid cleaning with ultrasonic cleaners or steamers as these may remove the oil enhancements. The heat and motion involved in these treatments can also cause fractures and even breakage.
- Oil enhancements should be inspected and replaced every few years.
- If a piece of emerald jewellery needs to be re-set at any point in time, be sure to work with a qualified jeweller who is familiar with the somewhat brittle and fragile characteristics of emeralds.
- Remove jewellery before engaging in physical activity or when working with your hands.
- Simple and regular cleaning will help keep your gems sparkling for generations to come.
Finding the Perfect Emerald
The more you learn about gems, the more successful you will be at acquiring quality gems at fair prices for your collection. An educated client makes the best decisions.
Subtle differences in quality can make a difference in beauty and the price of gems. Therefore, it is important to select your jewellery from a professional who can provide you with honest and ethical information.
Here are some tips to help you find the perfect emerald:
- Buy the best gem you can afford
- Request a report from a recognized gemological laboratory before you purchase verifying color, clarity, size, finish, etc.
- Make sure you know about any enhancements performed on your emerald, such as oiling, as it may require ongoing maintenance.
- Buy from dealers you know and trust that stand behind their products.
- Look for inclusions.
- There are almost never “deals” when it comes to natural gems.
Please contact us to start exploring your options for purchasing and collecting emerald gemstones.