St. Hildegard of Bingen, the noted lithologist, declared, “All the green of nature is concentrated within the Emerald.” …. but what else do we know about this gorgeous gem?
Emeralds are fascinating gemstones. They have the most beautiful, most intense and most radiant green that can possibly be imagined: emerald green. Top quality, fine emeralds are even more valuable than diamonds!
Emerald is the most precious stone in the beryl group. The name comes from the old French word ‘esmeralde’, which was derived from the Greek word ‘smaragdos’ meaning ‘green stone’.
Emeralds come in a variety of hues ranging from yellow-green to blue-green. Only gems that are medium to dark in tone are considered emerald; light-toned gems are known instead by the name green beryl.
The most desirable emerald colours are bluish green to pure green, with vivid colour saturation and tone that’s not too dark. The most-prized emeralds are highly transparent. Their colour is evenly distributed, with no colour zoning visible to the eye. If the hue is too yellowish or too bluish, the stone is not emerald, but a different variety of beryl, and its value drops accordingly.
The intensity of the green in the finest emeralds might not be equaled by anything else in nature.
Emerald is the stone for the 55th Wedding Anniversary. Jewellery would be the classic gift for this anniversary and there are many beautiful necklaces, earrings and bracelets made with emerald gems. Gifts for the couple might include a dark green item for the home like an emerald green artisan glass bowl, a green crystal figurine, emerald wine glasses or a sculpture.
Modern Birthstone – May
Star Sign – Taurus and Cancer
As the birthstone for May, the emerald, a symbol of rebirth, is believed to grant the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth. (I think I need a good chunk of this!)
The finest Emeralds are traditionally from Colombia, though Zambia has been a recent significant producer. Ancient Emeralds were mined in Egypt as early as 330 B.C. and were also sourced from Austria. Important Emerald deposits are in Brazil, China, Afghanistan, Russia, Mozambique, South African, and the U.S. (North Carolina).
Emerald is the name given the green variety of beryl and ranges between 7.5 and 8 on the Mohs scale.
Because emeralds usually contain many cracks, fissures, and inclusions, the majority of these stones are “oiled”. This means that they are immersed in oil which reduces the visibility of the inclusions, and also improves the clarity. Oiling is almost universal and because it is so common today, it is not considered necessary to disclose this fact.
Cutting Emeralds requires a highly precise set of skills. The cutter must consider the rough’s depth of colour, durability, and inclusions when making cutting decisions. Mistakes cause weight loss, which greatly reduces the value of a potentially valuable gem.
Four characteristics of emerald crystals make them difficult to cut. First, almost all emeralds have significant fractures. A cutter must design the cut to minimise the effect of those fractures on the finished stone.
The second factor is due partly to those inherent fractures: Emeralds are more brittle than a gem like corundum. This makes them vulnerable to damage during cutting, polishing, and setting, or even during careless daily wear. The emerald cut can help protect against damage because the vulnerable corners are faceted and provide a comparatively safe place for prongs.
Third, because colour is so important in establishing an emerald’s value, the cut must maximise the effect of hue, tone, and saturation. The cutter can affect colour by adjusting an emerald’s proportions and number of facets. The cutter can darken a pale stone with a deep cut, a small table, and fewer facets, or lighten a dark stone with a shallow cut, a large table, and additional facets.
Fourth, the bluish green to yellowish green dichroism of many emerald crystals encourages the cutter to orient the table so it’s perpendicular to the crystal’s length. That way, the more apparent colour in the cut gem is the bluish green that so many emerald lovers prize.
Emeralds are brittle stones and care should be taken when wearing or cleaning them. They should never be immersed in an ultrasonic cleaner or subjected to steam cleaning.
Folklore suggests that these stones will improve memory, intelligence, and enhance clairvoyance thus helping to predict future events.
Some wear Emeralds to enhance love and contentment.
Cleopatra prized emeralds above all other gems.
Click to discover more interesting facts about Diamonds or Aquamarine gemstones.