March 30, 2020

Emeralds

A gemstone once prized by the Pharaoh Cleopatra, even in the first century AD, Pliny the elder stated that “nothing greens greener”, since then emeralds have certainly not lost their appeal.

Picture from Muzo Emeralds.

Emeralds are of the Beryl family, the same as aquamarine, which grows in long hexagonal prisms. Emeralds are found in Colombia, India, Siberia, South Africa, Zambia and Brazil. Colombian emeralds are highly prized, as a significant proportion of the best quality stones are discovered there.

As a mineral species they are usually highly included (containing foreign minerals, or deformities within the mineral lattice), so when an Emerald is found with very few inclusions, the price soars. Emeralds from Colombia typically have three-phase inclusions (Solid, Liquid and Gas), which is a tell-tale sign of their origin. A typical emerald is “bottle green” with medium-dark tone and high saturation, if there is little saturation and a light tone then the gem is classed as “green beryl”.

When choosing an emerald, colour is undoubtedly the most important factor, they can have a bluish green tone or a yellowish green hue, which varies depending on their origin, and can vary within each deposit.

Image from GIA.


A significant percentage (over 95%) of emeralds are oiled which helps to improve their clarity. As members of the beryl family, they are formed with internal fractures and inclusions. Oils help to lower the relief of these inclusions and make them appear less, this is a normal and widely accepted procedure in the industry. A gemstone that comes with a certificate should tell you any treatments and to what extent.

Emeralds have a hardness of 7.5-8 on the mohs scale of hardness, the same as Sapphire, however the stone is brittle and can break along cleavage planes, so needs to be handled with care when setting. The inclusions within an emerald are known as “le jardin”, as it looks like a garden and reflects the colour of new spring growth.

Emerald and diamond ring

Lisboa - An Emerald an Diamond Five Stone Engagement Ring

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