KNOW YOUR GEMS

EMERALD

EMERALD
Family Name Beryl

The world’s earliest known gem is characteristically green.

History

Emerald is famous for its distinctive green color. Emerald initially emerged from the mines of ancient Egypt. The earliest Emerald mining estimates to 3500 to 330 BC. Emeralds – small, discolored, and heavily included as they were – quickly became adornments for the powerful and priestly classes. Cleopatra Mines of Egypt operated for about 1700 years. Cleopatra used emeralds for their royalty, and she was known for her passion for Emeralds. The ancient Greek and Roman civilizations attributed all kinds of magical qualities to Emeralds.

Their belief spread through the centuries and the allure of Emerald got enhanced. Indians were also using emeralds in their jewelry and religious ceremonies for over 500 years. It was believed Emerald's green color represented rebirth and fertility. Muzo mines were considered as the primary source for large crystals of Emerald. Many of these crystals were brought to India, and the Indian cutters earned the reputation of master cutters of rough Emeralds. During 1739 when Persia's Nadir Shah sacked Delhi, apart from some large Emeralds, he got away with India's prized mogul collection diamonds.

  • INTRODUCTION

  • Characteristics

  • TYPES

  • CARE AND CLEANING

Emerald, one of the most important gemstones, is a variety of the mineral Beryl. Beryl in its pure form is colourless, but the presence of minute amounts of metallic oxides contribute towards its colour, giving rise to many different colours depending on the different types of metallic oxides present.

Medium-light to medium dark tones of green beryl (Green due to the presence of chromium and/or vanadium) is called 'Emeralds.' Very light coloured stones are merely called green beryl. The word 'Emerald' itself is derived from an ancient Greek word for green, 'Smaragdos'.


Description

Emerald is the birthstone for May. Top quality Emerald must be an intense medium dark stone of slightly yellowish or bluish green with a velvety (soft) body appearance and a minimum of flaws. Only 1% of all stones found can be categorized matching the above specifications, and therefore top quality stones are scarce. The most exceptional quality of Emerald in two and three carats or larger will fetch a higher price than a diamond of equivalent quality and carat weight.

HARDNESS & TOUGHNESS

Hardness 7 ½ to 8 on Mohs Scale
Toughness Weak to Good
Fractures Conchoidal
Luster Vitreous to Resinous
Clarity Type III
Cleavage Very difficult to see in one direction almost never seen

Chemical formula: Be3Al2SiO6
Colours: Green
Crystal System: Hexagonal
Refractive index: 1.57 - 1.58

Emeralds are notorious for their flaws. Flawless stones are very uncommon and are noted for their great value. Some prefer Emeralds with minute flaws over flawless Emeralds, as this proves authenticity. Flaws are often hidden by treating the Emeralds with oil or synthetic lubricants, and this is a common practice in the industry. Though Colombian Emeralds have traditionally been the highest quality Emeralds with the finest green color, a new source of Emerald from the African country of Zambia has been producing deep green Emeralds with fewer flaws.

Zambian Emeralds: - Top quality Zambian Emeralds are sharp, bright green and have a slight grayish tinge. The color range of this variety of Emeralds extends from bluish-green to a dark velvety. Mica, Hornblende, Tremolite, and Actinolite contribute to the internal inclusions of Zambian Emeralds.

Sandawana Emeralds: - Found at the Belingwe Native Reserve area in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia), these are top quality stones that have a deep green emerald color. Stones above a third of carat are rare, due to the flawed nature of the crystals mined in this area.

Colombian Emerald: - Columbia in South Americas has always been the producer of finest Emerald. Columbian Emeralds are comparatively clear, pure green, slightly bluish – green stones. Trapiche Emerald is a distinctive type of Emerald with a cloudy appearance and a unique growth pattern. On cutting Trapiche Emerald, it exhibits the same properties as other Emeralds except for a cloudy translucent appearance.

Brazilian Emeralds: - These stones are almost free from flaws. There are stones with distinctive features strong enough to be classified as Emeralds out of the most of the light green gems material formed in Brazil, which is graded as green beryl.

African Emeralds: - These Emeralds are found in African lakes. They are characteristically yellowish-green but sometimes bluish-green. The quality of these stones can be compared with the Colombian Emerald, up to eight-carat sizes. Larger stones are also found which are suitable for cabochon cutting or carving.

Russian or Siberian Emeralds: - This variety of stone is less bluish, lighter in color, and much more included than Colombian Emeralds. They are characteristically more yellowish green and are formed in the Ural Mountain mines.

Type of Cleaning Needs Expert Advise
Steam Cleaning Never
Ultrasonic Cleaning Never
Warm, Soapy water Usually safe. Avoid vigorous scrubbing