Emerald Facts and Buying Guide
by Sheweta Dhanuka
It is birthstone for those born in the month of May and anniversary stone for those completing 20th, 35th and 55th year of marriage. It is the ideal gift for someone you love provided you have a bulging pocket and the genuine instinct to buy a genuine stone, as the market is flooded with imitations, synthetic gems and simulators. To make the purchase of a true stone buyer needs awareness and information about this captivating gemstone.
Emerald, the name is derived from a French word ‘esmeraude’. This word had its origin from Latin and Greek word ‘smaragdos’ meaning green stone. It was discovered millions of years ago in the mines of Egypt known as Cleopatra Mines. Since then it is an important part of the jewelry. Every generation considered it as a valuable asset.
It is birthstone for those born in the month of May and anniversary stone for those completing 20th, 35th and 55th year of marriage. It is the ideal gift for someone you love provided you have a bulging pocket and the genuine instinct to buy a genuine stone, as the market is flooded with imitations, synthetic gems and simulators. To make the purchase of a true stone buyer needs awareness and information about this captivating gemstone. Thus, this article provides the required knowledge and facts that would also act as a buying guide for them. All the important characteristics of the gemstone are discussed here like four important Cs of gemstone, price, source, precautions etc.
Colour – It is green coloured beauty and is available in almost all shades of green. The variations in the green colour occur due to the change in the chromium content present in the chemical composition of the crystal. No two mines or deposits producing the gemstone would have exactly the same composition some changes are obvious so different shades come into existence. With the increase in the amount of chromium the colour becomes rich and dark.
The colour shade of the stone is a very important characteristic as it is a mode of judging the originality of the gemstone. With the colour of the stone, its producing country is determined. Stones from Columbia are deep green in colour while Russia offer patchy and pale green colour. Zimbabwe stones too possess rich green colour but are of small magnitude. Emeralds from the gemstones land Brazil are bright light green in colour. Gems mined from India are bluish green and at present are valued most. Stones from Zambia are known for its bright colour and clarity.
Clarity – This stone is never a clean stone. It occurs in thousands of years thus would certainly contain some blemishes or inclusions. The inclusions are considered as the part of the stone and are very well accepted in the gemstone industry. Absolutely clean and clear stone is impossible to be offered by the Mother Nature. However, number of flaws would vary from one stone to another. It also contains surface cavities that are filled during the initial gemstone processing.
Cut – Cutting is a very crucial aspect as a good cut enhances the colour of the stone and augments its worth in terms of money. It is a hard and tough stone but still cutting remains a challenging job for the cutter. However, with the modern techniques it can be cut in different shapes viz. round, pear, oval, marquise, cabochon, square, emerald cut, step cut and many more. The most preferred cut is emerald cut, as the colour of stone is best visible in this shape. This cut is actually rectangular step cut.
Carat Weight – It contains vitreous luster. It is transparent to translucent in nature. The beauty of the stone is enhanced in large sizes. The carat weight suitable for jewelry items is between 0.5 -4 ctw. Gems beyond 4 carat weight are rare and priced very high. Rough more than 10 carat weight seldom occurs.
Price – It is priced very high. This treasured stone is valued on the basis of colour, clarity and carat weight. More bright and intense the green colour more is the price. Similarly with the increase in the carat weight the cost of the stone would also increase and finally less flaws in the crystal more is the worth. Different permutations and combinations of these three Cs are available in the market, buyer can select any of them depending upon their pockets.
Occurrence – It is the green coloured variety of beryl mineral. It is found in mica schists between granitic rocks or pegmatites rocks. Sometimes eluvial and aluvial deposits also hold this stone. The crystallization process occurs in excessive heat and pressure. During the process, some geological disturbances always takes place which results in inclusions in form of cavities, fractures or bubbles. Thus, it is never found as a crystal clear gem.
Source – Finest quality of this precious gemstone is obtained from Zambia and Muzo, Coscuez and Chivor mines in Columbia. The difference in the stones from these countries lies in the stone size & inclusions. Smaller stones with few flaws are from Zambia while larger stones consisting many inclusions are from Columbia. This country also produces rare stone with cat eye effect or six-rayed star. Countries namely Russia, India and Austria have huge deposits of this extremely wonderful stone. It is also procured from Brazil, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Afghanistan, Norway, Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria and the United States of America.
Enhancement – Each and every single stone is enhanced by some method in order to improve the appearance of the stone. The cavities present within the crystal are filled with hard clourless substance. Later it is treated with colourless oil or wax to hide the surface fractures. Under this treatment, oil is applied all over the stone such that oil seeps inside the stone and covers the breaks or cracks making it look less prominent. This process need to be repeated again after few years as effect of colourless oil diminishes with the passage of time. Oiling is the oldest method used for enhancing the clarity. These days a new method has been discovered to improve the clarity. The stones are treated with clear natural resin known as opticon. It gives better results than colourless oil. These two methods are accepted worldwide but the treatment of stone with green dye is non-acceptable.
Imitations – Emerald being the precious stone fetches high price therefore synthetic gems are preferred by many people across the world. Aluminum oxide is mixed with chromium and is heated under high temperature and pressure to create synthetic gems. United States and France are the major producers of these man made gems. These laboratory created gems are accepted in the gemstone trade ethics when sold to the buyer specifying that it is a synthetic stone.
There are few clever dealers who deceive the innocent buyer by selling stones that are even not properly created in the labs. They would merely join two pale green colour stones with bright green glue and irradiate with green dye. Later sell these nothing but fake stone at the price of genuine natural stones under the misleading names such as Biron Emerald, Chatham Emerald, Gilson Emerald, Kimberly Emerald, Lennix Emerald, Linde Emerald, Regency Emerald, Zerfass Emerald etc. These are only few names the list of such trade names is endless. Similarly glass dyed in green is also major simulator of this beautiful stone. Buyers need to be extra cautious while making the purchases of gems or its jewelry.
At the first glance it is very difficult to distinguish between the natural and synthetic gems. However, it is not impossible. Buyers can identify the original stone in two ways. First, check for the inclusions. Man made stones consist very thin inclusions as compared with the naturally occurred stones. Secondly, colour of the synthetic stones in ultraviolet light would appear reddish while the colour of genuine stones would remain same in every light source.
There are many other semi precious gemstones that are green in colour such as peridot, chrome diopside, tourmaline, zircon, hiddenite and green garnet. All these gems are unique in there respective characteristics and are priced accordingly. These stones have there own identification and value in the gemstone trade market. But unfortunately, few dealers sell them at the price of genuine Emeralds. Therefore, in order to avoid all the future shocks buyer should always prefer buying this most expensive gem from the reputable and authorized dealers only.
Uses – It is only used as a gemstone. It makes all sorts of jewelry items ranging from simple delicate rings, earrings and pendants to heavy necklaces. It is very well paired with diamonds. The jewelries are made up 18K or 22K yellow gold or white gold, platinum and sterling silver. Silver is relatively used less as it complements the precious stone less as compared with gold and platinum. Prong, bezel and bead setting can be used for making jewelries holding this marvelous gemstone. Out of these three types of setting, bezel setting is ideal for Emerald as it is protected from every corner. It is also cut and polished into cabochons and beads to make exquisite jewelry pieces.
Precautions – It is relatively a hard stone consisting the hardness of 7.5-8 Mohs. Inspite of having high on the hardness scale it requires special care and precautions. As it is treated with colourless oil to enhance the clarity, it should be protected from harsh chemicals and acids present in the cleaning solutions and cosmetics else the oil would be washed off. Also excessive heat and sudden temperature changes are harmful for the stone. It should be protected from sharp blows and scratches else some internal cracks can be developed inside the crystal.
It should neither be soaked in water or cleaned in home ultrasonic cleaner else the oiling would be damaged or removed from the stone and the inclusions would be clearly visible through the naked eyes. In the same way soapy water, steam, hot water or even the moisture is harmful for the stone as water can seep into the fractures and dissolve the oiling. Instead clean the stone with dry soft cloth and store in a separate jewelry box lined with soft cloth or cotton or velvet. Gems should be cleaned once in couple of years and not regularly. Repairing of the jewelry items holding this valuable gemstone should be done with an extra care. First the stone should be removed and then only the repairing work must be done. These precautions are too little effort as compared to the price paid to acquire this fascinating gemstone.
Belief – In ancient times, this amazing gemstone was associated with Venus, the Goddess of Love. Lovers wore the stone to know about the faithfulness and loyalty of their partners. It also symbolized wealth and financial power of royal families. This gem was widely used in Roman and Russian crown jewels. Indian kings and queens also admired its beauty and used it in their ornaments. Few emperors from India adored emerald so much that they would inscribe the religious text on the stone and wore it as talismans. Most beautiful women in universe Cleopatra used to treasure this stone a lot. It was said to improve the intellect and future instincts of the wearer. It was believed to cure and heal many chronic diseases.
Today, astrologers associate this incredible stone with good luck, growth and prosperity. It is a boon for businessmen as it offers them huge profits. It is believed to offer marital bliss as it develops mutual love and harmony among the partners. From the health purpose it is said to strengthen heart and kidney functioning. Also associated with curing the eyesight problems, circulatory and neurological disorders. It is even good for spiritual growth.
This unique stone with lovely green colour is full of hope, energy and love. Green colour represents harmony, beauty, joy and eternal love. It is a sacred stone that would certainly flourish its wearer with ample of wealth but to possess an Emerald, first the buyer have to pay a premium price!!