The Emerald Stone
One of the most beautiful and popular precious gemstones around today is the emerald. Known for its enchanting deep green color, commonly referred to as “emerald green,” the emerald is a variety of the mineral beryl. The green color is the result of traces of chromium or sometimes vanadium that is present in the stone.
Emeralds generally contain many inclusions and are therefore considered poor in terms of toughness. The large amount of inclusions also means that emeralds are not graded based on magnification, but rather, on what the eye can see. In fact, as long as there aren’t any visible flaws, the stone is considered flawless.
The Origin of the Emerald
Colombia is the world’s largest source for emeralds, responsible for somewhere between 50% and 95% of the world’s emerald production depending on the year and quality of the stone. In contrast to the production of other gemstones, the production of emeralds in Colombia has increased drastically over the past decade. The primary emerald mining locations in Colombia are Muzo, Coscuez, and Chivor. After Colombia, Zamabia is the world’s second largest source for emeralds, as the Kafubu River has many deposits. Additionally, emeralds are found in Afghanistan, Australia, India, France, Switzerland, the United States, and many other locations.
Grading the Emerald
Emeralds are graded according to the 4Cs: Color, Clarity, Cut and in the case of emeralds, Crystal. Crystal refers to the transparency of the emerald. In addition to having a rich green color, an emerald must display great transparency in order to be considered valuable. In terms of color, only emeralds that are medium to dark in tone are considered emeralds. Lighter stones are known as green beryl. The highest quality emeralds, color-wise, are those with a tone of 75%. Just to bring things into perspective, a stone with 0% tone would be colorless and one with 100% would be opaque black. Beryl comes in many others colors, and some are considered gems as well. These include the aquamarine, yellow heliodor, pink morganite, and colorless goshenite. Since an emerald’s glow is more detectable in larger stones, they are generally sold in bigger sizes than some other gemstones.
Myths and Beliefs
As May’s birthstone, the emerald carries with it many myths and beliefs. These include the belief that the stone is holy. Emeralds have been also known to symbolize rebirth, love, and eternal youth. There was once a myth that emeralds give one a supernatural ability to foretell the future, and even cure women of epilepsy. The name “emerald” is derived from a combination of two languages, Greek and Old French, and means simply, green gemstone.
Different Types of Emeralds
As mentioned earlier, only certain stones created from beryl with a green color are considered emeralds. However, in addition to emeralds of different sizes, color combinations, and clarity levels, there are some very unusual emeralds. One such emerald is the rare trapiche emerald, which is found in Colombia. It is easily discernible by a radial pattern with six points, constructed from spokes that look like rays, made from dark carbon impurities.
Many gemstones have one or several stones that are so large or unusual that they have become famous. In the case of emeralds, there is the Mogul Emerald and the Devonshire Emerald. The former is a 217-carat emerald that was sold in 2001 for $2.2 million. The latter famous emerald was given to the Duke of Devonshire, hence the name, as a gift, in 1831. Its weight was recorded as 1,386 carats and the precious stone is now housed in the Natural History Museum in London.
Emeralds are not mythical stones mentioned in tales from times long ago, neither are they old fashioned and outdated. These unique stones are elegant and full of life and quite relevant to today’s modern jewelry industry. Any gemstone enthusiast or collector, as well as individuals with an appreciation for fine jewelry, should consider adding an emerald to his or her collection.